Delta has increased its employee vaccination rate to 82% in the three weeks since announcing a $200 monthly health insurance surcharge for unvaccinated workers, Chief Health Officer Dr. Henry Ting said in an interview with CNN.
Since the onset of the pandemic, Delta has strived to put its employees and customers first by making vaccinations readily available. That, in combination with financial incentives such as an additional day of paid time off and $100 in health rewards, allowed Delta to vaccinate nearly 70% of its employees by June 2021. Through an employee lottery that gave over $1 million to vaccinated employees, Delta quickly increased its employee vaccination rate to 74%.
During the interview Wednesday, CNN host John Berman asked a question that many may wonder: “Why not require it?”
“We know how to keep our employees and our customers safe,” Dr. Ting explained.
Dr. Ting noted layers of protection already in place on board aircraft, such as mandatory masking and hospital-grade air filtration. In addition, a real-world study recently conducted by Delta in conjunction with the Mayo Clinic and the Georgia Department of Health indicates that the risk of exposure to COVID-19 while traveling after all passengers test negative 72 hours in advance of your flight is less than 0.1%.
When coupled with existing layers of protection, the risk of transmission is less than 1 in 1 million between the United States and the United Kingdom, for example. As vaccination rates continue to increase, these numbers will only improve.
Delta has made tremendous progress already without a mandate and recognizes there is more work to be done. These additional steps are intended to drive the airline’s vaccine rates even higher and ensure the continued safety and wellbeing of its employees and customers, without asking existing employees – many of whom have been with the airline long before the COVID-19 pandemic – to choose whether to be vaccinated or keep their livelihood.
Delta has consistently followed the science to keep its customers and employees safe, all while keeping their values at the forefront of every decision. In a recent media briefing with the Infectious Diseases Society of America, Dr. Ting said Delta believes in the importance of vaccinations to save lives – and the airline continues to educate, advocate and communicate with unvaccinated employees to accelerate their timeline and get them vaccinated.