Disney to Require U.S. Employees to Get Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer
The Walt Disney Company today informed thousands of their U.S.-based employees that they are required to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The move by the largest single-site employer in country comes as COVID-19 case counts surge across the country, most notably in Florida and California where the company has its largest employment sites.
In a written statement, Disney said:
At The Walt Disney Company, the safety and well-being of our employees during the pandemic has been and continues to be a top priority. Toward that end, and based on the latest recommendations of scientists, health officials and our own medical professionals that the COVID-19 vaccine provides the best protection against severe infection, we are requiring that all salaried and non-union hourly employees in the U.S. working at any of our sites be fully vaccinated. Employees who aren’t already vaccinated and are working on-site will have 60 days from today to complete their protocols and any employees still working from home will need to provide verification of vaccination prior to their return, with certain limited exceptions. We have also begun conversations around this topic with the unions representing our employees under collective bargaining agreements. In addition, all new hires will be required to be fully vaccinated before beginning employment. Vaccines are the best tool we all have to help control this global pandemic and protect our employees.
For now, the policy impacts only salaried and non-union employees working at any U.S. site, including theme parks, stores, and offices. Disney says it's in discussion with the unions that represent tens of thousands more workers at its theme parks in Orlando and Anaheim.
Cast members who are not fully vaccinated have 60 days to complete the process. According to the Food and Drug Administration, patients must wait either 21 days (Pfizer-BioNTech) or 28 days (Moderna) between the first and second dose of the two-dose vaccines, and are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after receiving the second dose. Patients are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after they receive the one-dose J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.
Disney has also put a hold on a plan that would return more remote workers to their on-site offices, but is advising those workers that they will also be required to be fully vaccinated before they can return to their desks.
The new policy also impacts all new hires, who must be fully vaccinated before starting work.
Disney notes that there are "certain limited exceptions" to the vaccination policy, but did not specifically respond to a request for comment on what provisions will be made for cast members for whom the vaccine is medically contraindicated. The company was also not able to provide any timeline on when the policy might be applied to unionized workers.
Disney cast members are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at no charge at employee health centers at both the California and Florida resort.