More US employers mandate COVID-19 vaccines

Confectionery factory employees
Confectionery factory employees

SeventyFour / iStock

The list of major American companies who will soon begin mandating COVID-19 vaccines continues to grow, as both Tyson Foods and Microsoft announced that all employees will need to show proof of vaccination in the coming months.

Tyson Foods is the first major food industry employer to require vaccinations. All front-line workers will be required to be vaccinated by Nov 1. According to the Associated Press, the Springfield, Arkansas, company will offer a $200 bonus for all front-line workers who receive a vaccine. So far, only half of Tyson employees are vaccinated against COVID-19.

Throughout the past 18 months, Tyson meat processing plants were the site of major outbreaks, but the company now reports low numbers after investing $700 million in workplace safety.

Tyson's move has come under criticism from the United Food and Commercial Workers, the union that represents Tyson employees. Union leaders say they are concerned Tyson is implementing this mandate before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has fully approved the vaccine.

To that end, the FDA is on a fast-track to approve the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine by Labor Day, according to sources who spoke with the New York Times. The FDA has been urged by President Joe Biden and several public health experts to expedite the regulatory process, as many unvaccinated Americans said they would only get the vaccines once fully approved.

Full FDA approval also makes it easier for universities, government bodies, and even cities, to require vaccination.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID Data Tracker shows 401,229,975 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered in the United States, and 347,377,149 have been administered, with 49.7% of Americans fully vaccinated (57.9% have received at least one dose).

Over 90% of US cases are Delta

The latest CDC data show 93.4% of sequenced COVID samples in the US are the Delta (B1617.2) variant, with highest levels in the region that includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska, where Delta makes up 98% of sequenced samples.

Yesterday, the United States reported 106,557 new COVID-19 cases, and 616 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. The 7-day average of new cases is 92,005, according to the New York Times tracker.

And the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says COVID-19 cases in kids rose dramatically last week, with 72,000 cases reported in children, compared with 39,000 the prior week.

"After declining in early summer, child cases have steadily increased in July," the AAP said. As of Jul 29, nearly 4.2 million US children have tested positive for COVID-19.

Despite the rising activity of the Delta variant, the number of Americans resolute in their decision not to get vaccinated remains the same, according to the latest Kaiser Family Foundation survey. Fourteen percent of respondents say they will definitely not get vaccinated. More than half of the unvaccinated (53%) say they believe getting the vaccine is a bigger health risk than getting COVID-19.

Ninety percent of those who will not get the vaccine said they do not believe they can get seriously sick from the Delta variant.

Other US developments

  • A top medical official with the Louisiana Department of Health told NPR that the state is on track to exceed its highest number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, and that large hospital systems have had to cancel procedures and decline patient transfers.

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said yesterday that the state will not shut down again, despite the record-breaking surge in infections and hospitalizations, CBS News reported today.

  • The San Francisco Department of Public Health and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital said yesterday that they will allow people who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine to receive a second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, according to CNBC. The World Health Organization has said no boosters should be administered until 10% of the global population has been vaccinated.

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