Boeing Joins Other Federal Contractors in Dropping Vaccine Mandate

A court has blocked enforcement of President Biden’s executive order that had instructed federal contractors to require coronavirus vaccines for employees.,

Boeing said on Friday that it had suspended a vaccination requirement for employees after a court blocked enforcement of an executive order by President Biden that instructed federal contractors to impose such mandates.

The announcement comes after several other companies, including Amtrak, General Electric, Union Pacific and BNSF Railway, recently dropped their vaccine mandates, citing the court order. Some employers have also said that the vaccine mandate has made it harder to hire people at a time when workers are in short supply.

Boeing said that about 92 percent of its more than 110,000 U.S. employees were fully vaccinated or had secured exemptions from the mandate. Overall, about 72 percent of all adult Americans have received the one or two shots of coronavirus vaccines regulators have determined provide protection from the virus. Some companies that required employees to be vaccinated months ago, like United Airlines, a Boeing customer, have said close to 100 percent of their employees have been vaccinated.

“After careful review, Boeing has suspended its vaccination requirement in line with a federal court’s decision prohibiting enforcement of the federal contractor executive order and a number of state laws,” the company said in a statement. “As we have throughout the pandemic, we will continue to monitor and follow federal, state and local requirements.”

But in a note to employees, Boeing also strongly encouraged all workers to get a vaccine and booster shots, highlighting how companies are struggling to strike a balance on coronavirus vaccines, an issue that has become freighted with politics as many conservatives rail against mandates. Managers are contending with two contradictory pressures: from workers who do not want to be required to get the vaccine and from employees worried about getting sick or infecting vulnerable family members and friends.

“According to the C.D.C., the vaccines are safe, effective and our best tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Dr. Laura Cain, Boeing’s chief medical officer, said in the note. “I want to strongly encourage our employees to get vaccinated or get a booster if they have not done so to help protect their teammates, families and communities.”

On Tuesday, Amtrak said it was dropping its mandate, though about 97 percent of its work force had already received a shot or an exemption from the vaccine mandate. Fewer than 500 Amtrak employees have not been vaccinated, its chief executive said. The government-owned railroad acted after federal contractors like G.E., Union Pacific and BNSF Railway did away with their mandates last week.

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