Tyson Foods workers in Alabama and across the U.S. will have to provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to stay on the job, the company announced Tuesday.
“Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the single most effective thing we can do to protect our team members, their families and their communities,” said Dr. Claudia Coplein, chief medical officer at Tyson Foods in a statement. “With rapidly rising COVID-19 case counts of contagious, dangerous variants leading to increasing rates of severe illness and hospitalization among the U.S. unvaccinated population, this is the right time to take the next step to ensure a fully vaccinated workforce.”
Employees in Tyson’s offices have until Oct. 1 to get fully vaccinated, while all other workers are required to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1. Frontline workers who get vaccinated will receive $200 from the company, and workers who seek medical or religious accommodation will be exempted from the mandates, the company said.
Approximately 56,000 of the company’s 139,000 workers in the U.S. have been vaccinated, Tyson Foods said in a press release.
“We did not take this decision lightly. We have spent months encouraging our team members to get vaccinated – today, under half of our team members are,” said Tyson’s president and CEO Donnie King in a memo to staff. “We take this step today because nothing is more important than our team members’ health and safety, and we thank them for the work they do, every day, to help us feed this country, and our world.”
Meatpacking industry workers, who often work in close quarters beside other employees indoors and for long hours, in Alabama and across the country have suffered high levels of COVID-19 cases and deaths.