With the announcement of a healthcare surcharge starting Nov. 1 and testing requirements beginning next week for unvaccinated employees, Delta has already seen an increase in its vaccination rate from 74 to 79 percent.

Delta’s Chief Health Officer Dr. Henry Ting participated in a media briefing with the Infectious Diseases Society of America on Thursday morning. He discussed with Helen Talbot, MD, MPH and Alexander Alonso, PhD, SHRM-SCP the developments in the workplace throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – touching on topics from testing, vaccinations, government response and more. Watch the full briefing on idsociety.org.

“At Delta Air Lines, our approach to this has been a marathon, and we realize that this is not a rush to any finish line – that this is a long game,” Dr. Ting said. “We’ve implemented initiatives and programs to strongly encourage our employees to get vaccinated through multiple steps that we believe are aligned with our core values, which include listening to our employees, listening to our customers and meeting them where they are with education, efficacy and communication so that we can move them with us toward the goal of vaccination.”

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By making vaccinations readily available and putting in place financial incentives such as an additional day of paid time off and $100 in health rewards, Delta was able to vaccinate nearly 70 percent of its employees by June 2021. Through an employee lottery that gave over $1 million to vaccinated employees, Delta increased its employee vaccination rate to 74 percent.

With the announcement of a healthcare surcharge starting Nov. 1 and testing requirements beginning next week for unvaccinated employees, Delta has already seen an increase in its vaccination rate to 79 percent.

In addition, the airline has been requiring vaccination for all new employees as of May 17, 2021. “We’ve seen no drop off in people willing to join us,” Dr. Ting said.

As noted in a Bloomberg article, Dr. Ting emphasized throughout the briefing that the remaining 20,000 unvaccinated Delta employees are made up of a large portion of people who are deciding on their own timeline after they’ve gathered information they feel that they need.

“To all those people, I’m trying to continue to educate, advocate and communicate with them about the importance of the vaccination and accelerate their timeline,” Dr. Ting said. “We believe in the importance of vaccinations to save lives. And every person I convince to get vaccinated or change their mind is a potential life saved.”

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