SPRINGDALE, ARK. – Tyson Foods announced on Oct. 26 that 96% of its workforce has been vaccinated for COVID-19. The company announced on Aug. 3 that it would require all its 120,000 US-based workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 1

“Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the single most effective thing we can do to protect our team members, their families and their communities,” said Claudia Coplein, MD, chief medical officer for Tyson Foods, at the time of the announcement. “With rapidly rising COVID-19 case counts of contagious, dangerous variants leading to increasing rates of severe illness and hospitalization among the US unvaccinated population, this is the right time to take the next step to ensure a fully vaccinated workforce.”

Donnie King, president and chief executive officer released the news in a note to his employees:

“Throughout the pandemic, your health and safety has been our top priority. We have used every tool at our disposal to help keep you safe. And getting vaccinated is the single most effective tool to protect you, your families, and our communities against the COVID-19 virus. That’s why we decided, in August, to require all US team members to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 1.

“We couldn’t be happier to let you know 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 Aug. 3. This is an incredible result – not only for our company, but for your families and our communities across the country.

“And it’s due entirely to all of you: we hit this number thanks to the many, many thousands of individual conversations. To the laser focus of our operational leadership, health and safety and HR teams – and in particular, the leaders at our facilities. And not least, it is thanks to the dedication and courage of thousands of our team members, who stepped up and signed up to keep themselves, their families and their communities better protected against this deadly virus. Like many of you, I have worked at this company for decades, and I would be hard-pressed to think of a time when we came together as we did over the past few weeks. We did this together, and we should all be incredibly proud. Thank you, to all of you.

“I have also received many notes from team members who have helped convince others in their family, and in their community, to get vaccinated. Wherever you live, if you are one of these people, know that you have made your community safer. Thank you.

“Has this made a difference in the health and safety of our team members? Absolutely. We’ve seen a significant decline in the number of active cases, companywide.

“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.

“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.”

As an additional incentive, front-line workers received a $200 bonus after verifying they were fully vaccinated. The company will continue to provide four hours of regular pay compensation if employees are vaccinated outside of their normal shift or at an outside location. Since February, the company has hosted more than 150 vaccination events for employees.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW),the union representing 250,000 meatpacking and food processing workers, including 26,000 Tyson Foods workers, expressed its support for Tyson's vaccination efforts.

“As the largest union for Tyson workers across the country, UFCW is determined to keep all our members safe from this deadly pandemic, and ensure they are rewarded for their sacrifices," said Marc Perrone, UFCW International president. "Working together, the UFCW and Tyson set a new standard with this vaccine mandate and have proved what’s possible when we listen to workers and negotiate the implementation of vaccination mandates fairly and responsibly. We urge every company, across this country, to do what is right by their front-line workers and work cooperatively with their unions and employees to help end this pandemic and keep all of America’s essential workers and their families safe.”