(The Hill) — More than 96% of Tyson Foods’ employees have been vaccinated against COVID-19, the company announced on Tuesday, just days before its deadline for all its U.S. team members to be inoculated against the virus. “We couldn’t be happier to say that, as of today, over 96% of our active team members are vaccinated – or nearly 60,000 more than when we made the announcement on August 3,” Tyson Foods CEO Donnie King said in an employee memo. “This is an incredible result.”
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Roughly 120,000 people are employed by Tysons in the U.S., which means more than 4,000 workers remain unvaccinated. Tyson’s announcement comes just days before its Nov. 1 deadline for all U.S. employees to be inoculated against COVID-19.
King unveiled the vaccine requirement in August, contending the shots are the “single most effective thing we can do to protect ourselves, our families and our communities.”
The company also offered a $200 bonus and up to 20 hours of paid sick leave to vaccinated employees. At the time, King said less than half of the company’s employees were vaccinated against COVID-19.
The company said all employees in Tyson offices would have to be vaccinated by Oct. 1, while all other employees would have to receive their jabs by Nov. 1.
King on Tuesday told unvaccinated former Tysons employees that “Our doors are open” if they decide to change their stance on getting inoculated. “I’d also like to say to those who remain unvaccinated — this is your choice, and we respect that choice. If you change your mind and want to rejoin Tyson — let us know. Our doors are open,” he wrote.
He also thanked the more than 96% of Tyson’s employees for complying with the vaccine requirement. “The pandemic is not over, and we haven’t yet won the race. But we know we’re in it together, and our future is bright. Once again, to all of our team members, and on behalf of our entire leadership team — thank you,” King wrote.
Tyson Foods made headlines last year when some of its meatpacking plants experienced COVID-19 outbreaks. Supervisors at a port processing plant in Waterloo, Iowa, were also the target of criticism after reports surfaced that they placed bets on the number of workers who would contract COVID-19.
The company fired seven employees who worked at the plant in December, following an independent investigation.