United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby is making the rounds on national media in an attempt to defend his company’s vaccine mandate for all employees. His key word: safety.
United Airlines CEO Says Vaccine Requirement Is All About Safety
Speaking to Lester Holt on NBC Nightly News, Kirby laid out his reasons for making the vaccine mandatory:
We are not offering a testing option and it’s because safety is our number one priority at United Airlines and we don’t compromise on safety. And it’s clear. The data, the evidence is unequivocal that getting vaccinated is what is safest for each individual and safest for their co-workers. And because of that, we are going to require everyone to be vaccinated if they are working at United Airlines.
Kirby then lays out the basis for why the vaccination is safe:
The tipping point for me was seeing the statistics that 97% of the people in the hospital are unvaccinated and over 99% of the deaths are amongst the unvaccinated. That implies you are 300 times more likely to die if you are unvaccinated than if you are vaccinated. And once you have that statistics in your mind, at least for me as a leader, there simply was no choice but to do the right thing for safety.
This is a cogent argument that checks out and forms a powerful rationale for why the vaccine is so important not just for United Airlines workers, but for everyone.
Focusing on safety, Holt asks Kirby if vaccines are so much safer, why not require passengers also to be vaccinated. Kirby punts on the questions, saying that is up to the government to decide:
I think a passenger requirement really fits in the world of the government and government responsibility and requirement.
Certainly, mandatory vaccines would be a government fiat and face intense legal scrutiny. However, Kirby too quickly dismisses the concept of requiring passengers to be vaccinated in order to transport them. With so many millions of holdouts in the USA, such a rule would be bade for business. But could United require proof of vaccination to travel? Legally, there is a strong case to be made the answer is yes.
Kirby places great faith in the vaccine:
Obviously, the delta variant is just one more piece of evidence that shows how important the vaccines are and how effective and safe the vaccines are. The silver lining of what has happened with the delta variant is that it is driving much higher vaccination rates across the country and at the end of the day, that’s the only thing that is really going to get us out of the crisis.
You can watch the interview below:
Scott Kirby defends United’s vaccine mandate primarily on safety grounds, though utilitarianism (seeking the greatest good for the greatest number) and paternalism (helping people do what is in their best interest) are at play. While very narrow exceptions will be available, come autumn United employees who refuse the vaccine will be terminated.
image: NBC News / fair use exception