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Southwest Airlines gives employees until December to get COVID-19 vaccine

Delta remains the only major carrier without a mandate in place.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Southwest Airlines has joined other major carriers in mandating its 54,000 employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in order for them "to continue employment with the airline."

The airline made the announcement Monday following a "thorough review of President Biden's COVID Action Plan." Biden's plan requires that companies with more than 100 employees have vaccine mandates or weekly testing. Southwest employees have until Dec. 8 to get fully vaccinated or get an approved exemption.

United Airlines was the first major airline to announce a vaccine mandate for its employees. United said in late September it would begin terminating nearly 600 employees for refusing to get vaccinated. 

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American Airlines and Alaska Airlines announced similar vaccine mandates days ago. That leaves Delta as the only major airline that is letting unvaccinated employees continue to work and travel.

But even as these mandates occur,  there are concerns that it could cause issues as some unvaccinated employees, like pilots, deny the shot.

"There are going to be some unintended consequences, and we won't know those until we're staring them in the face," Robert Mann, a former Airline Executive who is now an airline analyzer, told WCNC Charlotte's sister station, WFAA.  

Contact Richard DeVayne at rdevayne@wcnc.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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