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vax up or pay up

Delta Air Lines announces a $200 monthly health insurance surcharge for unvaccinated employees

Delta Air Lines isn't requiring its employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. But if they don't, they'll be facing a surcharge of $200 a month.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian announced Wednesday that the airline's employees who choose not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and are enrolled in the company's healthcare plan "will be subject to a $200 monthly surcharge" beginning on Nov. 1. 

"The average hospital stay for COVID-19 has cost Delta $50,000 per person," Bastian said. "This surcharge will be necessary to address the financial risk the decision to not vaccinate is creating for our company." 

Bastian added that as the Delta variant of COVID-19 spreads, all of the company's employees who have been hospitalized with the coronavirus in recent weeks weren't fully vaccinated. Delta employees who are unvaccinated will also have to get tested for COVID-19 every week "while community case rates are high," Bastian said. 

This move comes after the Food and Drug Administration officially approved Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, which was expected to lead more companies to announce vaccine mandates. As The Washington Post notes, United Airlines previously said it would require its U.S. employees to get vaccinated.

"We know some of you will disagree with this decision to require the vaccine for all United employees," United CEO Scott Kirby said. "But, we have no greater responsibility to you and your colleagues than to ensure your safety when you're at work, and the facts are crystal clear: everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated."