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3 Alaska Airlines Employees Die of COVID

Airline is considering making vaccination mandatory
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2021 6:25 PM CDT
3 Alaska Airlines Employees Die of COVID
An Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-9 Max airplane takes off on a flight to San Diego from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

(Newser) – Alaska Airlines is considering making vaccination mandatory after the deaths of three employees from COVID-19 in the space of a month. Anchorage-based Capt. Eric Moss, 53, died Sunday, reports the Seattle Times. Sources tell the Times that Moss, a mechanic who died in late July in California, and a customer service rep who died in Seattle earlier this month were all unvaccinated, though airlines spokesperson Alexa Rudin says the company doesn't comment on employees' personal health information. It's not clear whether the employees were infected at work.

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"We are terribly sorry. We never want to lose any of our employees," Rudin says. "We have had very few COVID-related deaths. Our COVID case rates have generally trended at or below the US average." CNBC reports that the Seattle-based airline told employees last week that it is considering making COVID vaccinations mandatory after the FDA grants full approval to a vaccine. "As an employer with a duty to keep you safe ... we are within our rights to make this decision and to ask you for information about your vaccine status," the airline told its 20,000 employees. Earlier this month, United Airlines became the first US airline to make vaccination mandatory. Frontier Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines have now followed suit. (Read more Alaska Airlines stories.)

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