“In a large company, it’s a handful,” he said in an appearance on CNN’s New Day Thursday. “The ones I’m aware of are in the single digit number of people. We’re going to have more by the time it finishes, but it’s going to be a very low number of people.”
Kirby said it’s important to get as many people as possible vaccinated in order to end the pandemic and get the economy — and air travel — fully functioning again. But while travel between some countries requires proof of vaccination, Kirby isn’t endorsing a vaccine mandate on domestic air travel or other forms of transportation.
“I don’t think [mandating vaccination for] air travel on its own will drive a huge increase in vaccination rates,” he said. “I think this employer mandate will drive a really big increase.”
Kirby said the administration’s policy requiring employer vaccine or testing mandates “is probably the most efficient way, as opposed to creating friction in airports, friction in subways, friction across the board.”
Airlines have insisted that federal rules requiring passengers to wear masks, enhanced air filtration and the frequent exchange of fresh air for cabin air during flights make flying safe, even during the pandemic.
About 20,000 United employees have provided proof of vaccination to the company since the policy was announced August 6, according to a memo sent to United employees Thursday. Workers who upload their proof of vaccination by Sept 20 will be eligible for an additional day of pay.
Unlike the federal policy announced last week, United does not allow workers who don’t want to get the vaccine avoid it through weekly Covid testing.