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San Francisco Airport Nation’s First to Mandate COVID Vaccines for All Workers

September 24, 2021 by Dan McCue
San Francisco International Airport at sunset. (Photo courtesy San Francisco International Airport)

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Starting this week, everyone employed at San Francisco International Airport must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to report to work, according  to a joint statement from the airport and Mayor London Breed.

The airport is the first in the country to adopt such a mandate.

“We know that vaccines are the most effective way to prevent COVID-19 transmission and reduce hospitalizations and death,” Breed said in a written statement.

“This new requirement supports our aggressive measures to protect the health and safety of our region and our continued economic recovery,” she said.

Airport Director Ivar Satero said the move was inspired in equal parts by the fact airport passenger traffic has begun to return to pre-pandemic levels and the approach of the upcoming holiday season.

Simply put, “we have an obligation to provide a safe airport facility for the traveling public,” he said.

The vaccine mandate applies to all San Francisco International Airport tenants and contractors.

Exemptions from the vaccination requirement can be granted by the employer for either medical disability or sincerely held religious belief,  the airport said in a written statement, adding that for employees granted an exemption, the tenant or contractor employer must establish a weekly COVID-19 testing and reporting protocol.

Tenants and contractors will also be required to submit reports on the status of their respective workforce until all on-site personnel are fully vaccinated, the statement said.

In August 2020, SFO became the first U.S. airport to establish an on-site rapid testing capability and now administers tests to an average of 500 travelers at various on-site locations every day.

Since then, it has partnered with San Mateo County, California to provide vaccines to health care workers and county residents over 65, and converted one of its multi-level garages to serve as a drive-through vaccination facility. 

In early May it also launched a vaccination clinic in its international terminal, offering vaccine doses to airport workers, local residents, and travelers. 

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