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Tyson Foods says 5,400 employees take COVID-19 shots after vaccine mandate

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A Tyson Foods employee puts on a second protective mask outside of the company's meat processing plant, which has been hit by a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Waterloo, Iowa, U.S. April 22, 2020. Jeffrey Becker/USA TODAY NETWORK via REUTERS

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CHICAGO, Aug 9 (Reuters) - About 5,400 Tyson Foods Inc (TSN.N) employees have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or received their first shots since the meat processor last week ordered its entire U.S. workforce to be vaccinated by November, the company said on Monday.

Major U.S. companies are changing policies on vaccinations and masking as the Delta variant of the coronavirus drives a resurgence of cases. read more

Tyson said last Tuesday that office workers must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1, while plant workers have until Nov. 1, subject to discussions with labor unions. At the time, about 56,000 employees had already been vaccinated, roughly 47% of Tyson's U.S. workforce of 120,000, according to the company. read more

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Employees had a "somewhat mixed" reaction to the mandate, Chief Executive Donnie King told reporters on Monday after the company reported stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings. Some workers got shots who previously "weren't really excited about the vaccination," he said. read more

King did not know of employees who quit over the mandate but said there could be "some short-term impacts."

"We don't want to lose anyone," he said.

Tyson came under fire last year as plant workers became infected and died from COVID-19. The company temporarily closed plants to contain outbreaks, tightening U.S. meat supplies.

The recent spread of the Delta variant has made it harder for Tyson to find workers, King said.

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Reporting by Tom Polansek; Editing by David Gregorio

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