Tyson Foods Inc has said that it is mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for its entire workforce, joining a growing list of major US companies as they face renewed pandemic restrictions due to the fast-spreading Delta variant.
Surging COVID-19 cases and new guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that requires fully-vaccinated individuals to wear masks have led many companies to rethink their plans.
Many of corporate America's biggest names have taken action following the CDC's guidance, including mask mandates from McDonald's Corp, Apple Inc and vaccination requirements by Walmart and Walt Disney.
US officials said on Monday COVID-19 cases, along with hospitalisations and deaths from the virus, have increased in the last week, even as vaccination rates have seen a pick up amid concern over the highly contagious Delta variant.
The CDC said there were about 72,000 new COVID-19 cases per day in the United States as of Saturday, a 44% increase over the previous week and higher than the peak set in the summer of 2020.
"Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the single most effective thing we can do to protect our team members, their families and their communities," said Dr Claudia Coplein, chief medical officer at Tyson Foods.
"With rapidly rising COVID-19 case counts of contagious, dangerous variants leading to increasing rates of severe illness and hospitalization among the U.S. unvaccinated population, this is the right time to take the next step to ensure a fully vaccinated workforce."
Vaccination For US Employees
Tyson said on Tuesday its employees at US office locations should be fully vaccinated by 1 October, while other locations have until November. It added that nearly half its US workforce were vaccinated.
Labour unions and meat companies have been pushing states to increase the pace of vaccine rollout in the food sector to protect workers and avoid supply-chain disruptions from COVID-19 outbreaks, such as closures of slaughterhouses last year.
In March of this year, meatpacker JBS USA said that more than 20% of its employees received a COVID-19 vaccine, while rival Tyson Foods Inc said more than 10% of its workers have received a shot.