COVID-19: Alaska Airlines contemplating vaccine mandate as cases surge

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Alaska Airlines may join some of its rivals in requiring vaccines for its employees in an effort to combat the highly contagious COVID-19 delta variant.

The carrier told FOX Business that it is "looking closely at whether we will require that employees are vaccinated" following a surge in cases and hospitalizations. 


However, if the airline does implement the policy it wouldn't be effective "until at least one vaccine is fully approved by the FDA," the airline said in a statement.  

So far, the government agency has only given emergency-use approval for Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson's vaccine candidates. 

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ALKALASKA AIR GROUP, INC.58.57-0.88-1.48%

If this were to occur, the airline said it would have "appropriate religious and medical exemptions." 

"The contagiousness and health risks of the COVID-19 virus and its variants affect our employees and the communities we serve," the airline said. "Safety is our highest value and we have an imperative to protect one another from this virus." 

An Alaska Airlines 737 comes in for landing at Portland International Airport. (iStock / iStock)

In doing so, Alaska would join similar efforts by Hawaiian, United and Frontier airlines. 

Hawaiian was the latest major airline to announce the mandate. CEO Peter Ingram sent a memo to employees on Monday saying that all of its U.S.-based employees will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 starting Nov. 1. 


"Safety is the foundation of air travel, and it is ingrained throughout our operation and service. This is no different. By getting vaccinated, we protect ourselves and those around us," Ingram said in a section of the memo obtained by FOX Business. 

Meanwhile, United Airlines said it will require employees in the U.S. to be vaccinated by Oct. 25 at the latest. Frontier Airlines followed suit saying that it will require employees to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1 or face "regular" testing for the virus. 

However, American, Delta and Southwest airlines haven't wavered on their respective vaccine policies for employees. Instead, these carriers are strongly encouraging their employees and, in some cases, even offering incentives for workers to get vaccinated.  

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