Alongside many large employers in Germany, Lufthansa has today started to vaccinate its employees. The move comes as the country removes its vaccination priority list, meaning that anybody aged 12 or above is now eligible for a vaccination. Previously, vaccines were generally issued in strict order of priority.
The COVID-19 vaccination has largely been seen as the way out of the aviation industry’s largest crisis to date, brought on by the pandemic. Many countries have prioritized their most vulnerable citizens for vaccines, meaning that some keen to have the vaccine have faced a lengthy wait. Increasingly, it has now become their turn.
Lufthansa begins employee vaccinations
Lufthansa has begun to vaccinate its employees across three sites in Germany. The airline group’s medical services can now vaccinate employees as the German government removed the priority list on Monday, meaning that every German resident over 12 is now eligible to be vaccinated.
According to the German government, 702,000 doses of the BioNTech vaccine will be delivered to company doctors across the country this week, followed by around 602,550 next week. According to Lufthansa, the airline expects to be able to vaccinate 2,000 individuals in the first week.
Understandably, the airline is focusing the initial vaccines on those working in customer-facing roles such as cabin crew and check-in staff. Theoretically, the airline doesn’t need to focus on older employees or those with health conditions, as they should already have been vaccinated as part of the country’s general immunization campaign.
Commenting on the rollout, Dr. Michael Niggemann, Chief HR Officer at the airline, commented,
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, our employees have also been making an important contribution to society. With our flight and cargo services, we give travelers the security of being able to perform socially or economically important tasks, for example. We are pleased to now be able to offer our employees a vaccination.”
A quicker route to vaccination?
The move will surely be welcomed by those who can be vaccinated. For those lucky enough to be offered the vaccine by the German flag carrier, they will likely get it faster than through other measures. As mentioned, on Monday the government removed the prioritization of vaccines. This doesn’t mean that everybody will be vaccinated at once.
In Hessen, the federal state containing Lufthansa’s Frankfurt base, around 470,000 from the previous priority groups are still waiting for vaccines. This means that individuals without priority likely won’t get a vaccine until July at the earliest at a state vaccination center.
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Are the vaccines mandatory?
The COVID-19 vaccine isn’t mandatory in Germany, nor is it at Lufthansa. The German flag carrier recommends that employees get vaccinated but won’t be making them as things currently stand. This is in contrast to some other airlines.
United Airlines will only hire vaccinated individuals from next week (except those who cannot be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons). Meanwhile, Lufthansa’s codeshare partner, airBaltic, has recently begun rehiring crew laid off due to the pandemic. These individuals also need to be vaccinated to be offered positions at the airline.
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