Aug 3, 2021 - Health

Tyson Foods mandates COVID vaccines for all U.S. employees

A Tyson Foods Inc. facility stands in Lexington, Nebraska, U.S., on Friday, April 24, 2020.

A Tyson Foods Inc. facility stands in Lexington, Nebraska, U.S., on Friday, April 24, 2020. Photo: Dan Brouillette/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tyson Foods will require all of its employees in the U.S. to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, the company said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The move makes Tyson Foods the largest U.S. food company — with 139,000 team members — to require vaccinations among all its employees.

  • To date, less than half of all U.S. Tyson Foods employees, about 56,000, have been vaccinated.

Details: All employees working in Tyson Foods' U.S. office locations must be vaccinated by Oct. 1. All other team members have until Nov. 1 to get the vaccine.

  • Tyson will also provide $200 to fully vaccinated frontline team members.
  • Onsite vaccination events will be scheduled for employees, and the company will work with local health departments and healthcare providers to increase vaccine access, the company said.
  • Exceptions to the vaccination mandate will granted to employees seeking medical or religious accommodation, the company added.

What they're saying: "We did not take this decision lightly. We have spent months encouraging our team members to get vaccinated – today, under half of our team members are," Tyson president and CEO Donnie King wrote in a memo to staff.

  • "We take this step today because nothing is more important than our team members’ health and safety, and we thank them for the work they do, every day, to help us feed this country, and our world."

The big picture: The meatpacking industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, with many criticizing companies, including Tyson Foods, for not adequately protecting their workforces.

  • Tyson Foods was forced to close its doors at meat processing plants early in the pandemic due to coronavirus outbreaks.
  • The outbreaks at Tyson and other meatpacking plants strained supply chains across the U.S.

Go deeper: More corporations are requiring workers to get vaccinated

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