Biden Meets With Leaders Who Required Employees to Get Vaccines
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden met Wednesday with business, education and health leaders who’ve required employees to get Covid-19 vaccinations as the White House prods more Americans to get shots.
Biden met virtually with United Airlines Inc. Chief Executive Officer Scott Kirby, whose airline was the first in the U.S. to say it will require vaccinations from its staff. He also met with Howard University President Wayne Frederick, Kaiser Permanente CEO Gregory Adams, and Diane Sumpter, a small business leader. Those organizations have required all staff to get shots, with some exceptions.
The meeting, which was closed to reporters, is touting vaccinations while also highlighting the piecemeal approach taking shape across the U.S. in which certain businesses, health-care providers and schools are requiring vaccinations.
Biden has urged people to get shots as infections surge in the U.S., especially among the unvaccinated, fueled by the delta variant.
About 58.8% of eligible Americans, age 12 and up, are fully vaccinated, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The pace of shots has been rising over the past month, after falling sharply from a high set in mid-April.
Biden on Tuesday said it was hypocritical of governors to oppose federal interventions while also stepping in to block municipalities and school boards from requiring masks or asking about vaccinations.
Kirby said ahead of the meeting that the company’s decision to require vaccines for staff has been well-received but that requiring them for passengers would be up to government.
“Trying to require all customers to be vaccinated really is something that I think probably fits more appropriately in government, and government direction,” he said on MSNBC on Wednesday. “And it also would be logistically impractical to do domestically here in the United States.”
Employees who refuse vaccines won’t be able to work for United, he said.
“While it’s not universal, the response has been much more positive than I expected,” he said. “I think there’s going to be more and more employers doing the same thing.”
This month, Kaiser Permanente announced that vaccines would be mandatory for all employees and physicians. “Making vaccination mandatory is the most effective way we can protect our people, our patients and the communities we serve,” Adams said in a written statement. “We encourage all health systems and business and industry leaders across the country to play a role in ending the pandemic by doing the same.”
Howard’s Frederick announced this month that the university would require faculty and staff who will be on campus this fall to be vaccinated, with some medical and religious exemptions, after earlier requiring it of students who would physically attend classes.
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