0 min left

Will Alaska Airlines be the Next to Require COVID-19 Vaccinations?

After insiders at Alaska Airlines say three unvaccinated employees have died from COVID-19 infections, will the airline be the next to require workers to get vaccinated? Although the carrier is “highly encouraging” inoculation, they have yet to make a final decision on the practice.

After three Alaska Airlines employees passed away from COVID-19 in the past 30 days, will the airline be the next one to consider mandatory vaccinations? The Anchorage Daily News reports a captain with the carrier was the latest victim of the pandemic, leaving the Seattle-based company with a serious decision on their hands.

Despite Vaccination Encouragement, Shots Not Mandatory for Alaska Employees

Much like their Oneworld partner American Airlines, Alaska has not yet made vaccines mandatory for their employees. However, they are encouraging workers to get the shot as schedules begin to get busier.

According to those inside the airline speaking to the newspaper, the pilot had not received a COVID-19 vaccine. The other two employees who also died were allegedly not inoculated against the virus. The carrier did not comment on the vaccination status of the employees.

The current airline policy calls for those who are not vaccinated against the novel Coronavirus to quarantine for two weeks if they are exposed to someone who has a confirmed case. But with confirmed cases leading to deaths, the carrier is reportedly considering making vaccination a requirement for employment.

“As an employer with a duty to keep you safe and given the contagiousness and health risks of the COVID-19 virus and its variants, we are within our rights to make this decision and to ask you for information about your vaccine status,” an internal memo sent to employees reads, as quoted by the Anchorage Daily News. The memo goes on to note that a mandate would not come down until the vaccines receive full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

If they do make vaccination a requirement, they would be the fourth U.S.-based carrier to create a mandate. United Airlines was the first, followed by Frontier Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines. Other carriers say they are encouraging all workers to get the shot with incentives but have not made it mandatory.

Employment Experts Say Companies Can Ask Workers for Vaccination Status

Although it may sound intrusive, employment experts say that it is lawful to ask employees about their vaccination status and encourage inoculations. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission notes companies can request proof of vaccination, but must provide “reasonable accommodations” for religious and disability reasons.