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United Airlines CEO calls on companies to mandate COVID-19 vaccination

FILE PHOTO: United Airlines president Scott Kirby speaks before the departure of the "Flight for the Planet", the most eco-friendly commercial flight in history of aviation, according to the airline, from O'Hare International Airport to Los Angeles, in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., June 5, 2019. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

(Reuters) - United Airlines may make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for employees, and other companies should do the same, United Chief Executive Officer Scott Kirby told workers at a meeting on Thursday, according to a transcript reviewed by Reuters.

A United spokeswoman confirmed that the company was “strongly considering” making vaccines compulsory, though it isn’t a policy yet.

“I think the right thing to do is for United Airlines, and for other companies, to require the vaccines and to make them mandatory,” Kirby said.

“If others go along and are willing to start to mandate vaccines, you should probably expect United to be amongst the first wave of companies that do it.”

CNBC had earlier reported the news of Kirby wanting to mandate the vaccine for employees.

Private U.S. companies can require employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but are unlikely to do so because of the risks of legal and cultural backlash, experts have said.

Companies are still in the early stages of navigating access and distribution of vaccines against the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, but inoculation is considered the key to safely resume operations at crowded warehouses, factory lines and on sales floors.

Reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Chicago and Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi

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