Tyson says all U.S. workers must get vaccinated against HIV

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Tyson says all U.S. workers must get vaccinated against HIV

- Tyson Foods Inc. is requiring all of its U.S. workers to be fully vaccinated no later than Nov. 1 for the vaccine. The move by Tyson, America's biggest meat manufacturing company, is among the most aggressive yet to prevent another wave of infections that shuttered food production plants in 2020.

Companies have mostly applied bonuses and incentives to ensure workers to get vaccines. Now that the delta variant is spreading around our country and threatening disruptions, some are gradually turning to mandates. Walmart Inc. announced vaccination requirements for some employees last week, the biggest private employer in the U.S. and Walt Disney Corp. announced company management plans for several employees. In another major signal, frontline personnel at U.S. department of veterans affairs will also have to get their shots.

Tyson said Tuesday that all company leadership must be vaccinated by Sept. 24, all other employees by Oct. 1 and all in-house workers by Nov. 1.

'With rapidly expanding Covid - 19 case counts of dangerous contagious variants leading to increasing rates of severe illness and hospitalization among the unvaccinated population, this is the right time to take the next step to ensure a fully vaccinated workforce, Claudia Coplein, Tyson Chief Medical Officer, said in the statement.

Tyson said some half of its workforce has received a vaccine.

Meat plants, along with nursing homes and prisons were prime hot spots for the HIV outbreak in the first half of 2020. Hundreds of workers contracted the virus and died while meat plants shut down, sending prices for beef and pork soaring while prices for animals plummeted. Companies such as Tyson tried to overcome the outbreaks by adding plastic dividers, hand sanitizer stations and installing medical staff.

The designs of slaughterhouses made social distancing difficult, with workers cutting meat nearly elbow-to-edge with one another. While plants have prevented a repeat of the shutdowns from a year ago, staffing levels remain below normal. Some businesses that rely on lower-income workers such as restaurants, supermarkets, warehouses and others have so far shied away from vaccine mandates for fear of exacerbating a labor crunch.

Exceptions to the vaccination mandate will involve work that seek medical or religious accommodation, said Tyson. Tyson said the issue would be subject to bargaining with unionized workers.

The United Food and Commercial Workers is urging businesses to provide vaccine policies directly with frontline workers and negotiate paid vaccine leave.

'While we support and encourage workers to be vaccinated against the Covid 19 virus and actively encouraged our members to do so, it is concerning that Tyson is implementing this mandate before FDA has fully approved the vaccine, UFCW International President Marc Perron said in the statement.