US Vaccine Mandates Start
Following the announcement that the Food and Drug Administration formally approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, many companies, government institutions, and even theme parks are requiring COVID-19 vaccinations.
CVS Health mandates full COVID-19 vaccination for some employees
Health conglomerate CVS Health Corp has mandated complete COVID-19 vaccination for its nurses, pharmacists and other employees who face patients, joining a string of U.S. firms seeking to slow the spread of the contagious Delta coronavirus variant.
The policy, announced on Monday, comes after the U.S. health regulator granted full authorization to the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech SE. The approval is expected to spur a string of similar mandates from corporate employers.
CVS said it would require all corporate staff to get fully vaccinated by October end and had asked recently hired employees to get their first COVID-19 shot before joining work.
The company, which operates one of the largest U.S. pharmacy chains, had said earlier this month that employees at its worksites were required to wear masks or face covers, regardless of their vaccination status.
Pharmacists at its retail stores will have until Nov. 30 to get fully vaccinated, the company had added.
Rival Walgreens Boots Alliance has said it is requiring staff at support offices to be fully vaccinated.
U.S. energy companies have already moved to require that employees receive vaccinations amid rising infection rates at home, with health surveys showing that energy workers remain among those most reluctant to get shots.
Disney Cruise Line mandates vaccination on Bahamas ship
Walt Disney Co's cruise division said on Tuesday it will require vaccination proof from all passengers above the age of 12 traveling from Florida to the Bahamas, as the COVID-19 Delta variant sweeps across the United States.
For sailings beginning Sept. 3, travelers under the age of 12 will have to provide a negative COVID-19 test, the cruise operator said in a blog. It also plans to cancel the Sept. 4 "Disney Fantasy" sailing.
Disney's cruise line had earlier said it did not insist on vaccinations, but the change in stance comes after the U.S. health regulator asked people at a high risk of severe COVID-19 illness to avoid cruises irrespective of vaccination status.
The Bahamas, a major hub for cruises, has also said it would not allow those ships to dock in the country unless all passengers 12 and older provide proof of vaccination.
Carnival Corp's namesake cruise line said on Sunday it requires vaccination proof for all passengers aged 12 and above.
Morgan Stanley will require employees to prove vaccination status
Morgan Stanley said on Tuesday it had asked its U.S.-based employees to offer proof for COVID-19 vaccination, as the big bank doubles down on rules for staff entering its offices.
Nearly 90% of its U.S.-based employees have attested to being vaccinated against COVID-19, the bank said, and they would be required to furnish proof by Oct. 1.
Earlier, Morgan Stanley had mandated employees, clients and visitors to attest to being fully vaccinated for access to its offices in New York and Westchester.
Big Wall Street institutions have been grappling with questions around employee safety and how to bring back workers, in the wake of the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus. While some firms have pushed back their return-to-office plans, others have chosen to stay the course.
Last week, Citigroup Inc said it would require U.S. employees returning to its New York headquarters and offices in some other cities to be vaccinated.
Citigroup to require vaccines for staffers returning to main U.S. offices
Citigroup Inc will require U.S. employees returning to its New York headquarters and offices in some cities to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the bank's head of human resources, Sara Wechter, said in a LinkedIn post on Tuesday.
The bank expects these employees to start returning to the office for at least two days a week starting Sept. 13, the post said.
The bank's decision would also affect employees in the Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and D.C. offices. The bank will also be providing rapid test kits for its employees.
These employees will be required to wear masks given fears around the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus.
For employees at other branches, Citigroup would "strongly encourage", but not mandate vaccination.
Wall Street remains divided over postponing back-to-office plans due to the Delta variant. Some major firms including Wells Fargo & Co and BlackRock Inc have delayed their return plans, while others including Bank of America Corp and Morgan Stanley have stuck to the previous guidance.
U.S. teachers' union shifts stance to back vaccine mandate as COVID surges
COVID-19 vaccinations should be required for U.S. teachers to protect students who are too young to be inoculated, the head of the nation's second-largest teachers' union said on Sunday, shifting course to back mandated shots as more children fall ill.
"The circumstances have changed," Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, told NBC News' "Meet the Press" program. "It weighs really heavily on me that kids under 12 can't get vaccinated."
"I felt the need ... to stand up and say this as a matter of personal conscience," she said.
U.S. health secretary mandates COVID-19 shots for health care staff
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has mandated its health care workforce to get vaccinated against COVID-19, Health Secretary Xavier Becerra announced on Thursday.
Staff at the Indian Health Service (IHS), focused on American Indians, and National Institutes of Health (NIH) will be impacted by this decision, according to an HHS statement.
Those affected include over 25,000 employees, contractors, trainees, and volunteers whose duties put them in contact or potential contact with patients at an HHS medical or clinical research facility.
"Our number one goal is the health and safety of the American public, including our federal workforce," Becerra said.
U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps will also be immediately required to get vaccinated, the statement said.
HHS is the latest federal department to make COVID-19 vaccination compulsory.
Earlier this week, the Pentagon said it will seek U.S. President Joe Biden's approval by mid-September to require 1.3 million military members to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also announced a similar move last month.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration is examining what authority businesses have to mandate vaccines as it considers what more steps can be done to halt the spread of COVID-19.
United Airlines Inc Chief Executive Scott Kirby said he believes more U.S. companies and organizations will begin requiring COVID-19 vaccinations, after a meeting with Biden.