United States

GE mandates COVID-19 vaccines for U.S. workers

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The General Electric logo is pictured on working helmets during a visit at the General Electric offshore wind turbine plant in Montoir-de-Bretagne, near Saint-Nazaire, western France, November 21, 2016. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

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CHICAGO, Oct 19 (Reuters) - General Electric Co (GE.N) has asked its U.S.-based workers to get COVID-19 shots or seek a medical or religious accommodation by Dec. 8 in order to comply with U.S. President Joe Biden's executive order.

As part of efforts to control the pandemic, which has killed more than 700,000 Americans, Biden, a Democrat, last month signed the order requiring federal contractors to mandate COVID-19 shots for employees and get them vaccinated by Dec. 8.

As a federal contractor, GE said it is complying with the executive order. The company updated its vaccine policy for more than 50,000 U.S. workers last week.

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The Boston-based conglomerate is the latest U.S. employer to impose such a requirement, which has sparked a political fight.

While supporters of vaccine mandates see them as necessary to pull the country out of the nearly two-year-old pandemic, critics are calling them unconstitutional and authoritarian.

The White House has said vaccine requirements have driven up COVID-19 vaccination rates by 20 percentage points.

The measure has drawn a sharp reaction from some Republicans, with Texas Governor Greg Abbott last week barring COVID-19 vaccine mandates by any entity, including private employers.

Union Pacific Corp (UNP.N) and its three unions have sued each other over the vaccine mandate.

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Reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh Editing by Chris Reese and Alistair Bell

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