Vaccine Mandates May Cause Holiday Shipping Disruptions

Carolyn Crist

October 25, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

The Cargo Airline Association, a trade group that represents companies such as UPS and FedEx, warned the Biden administration this week that its Dec. 8 vaccine mandate deadline could disrupt the busiest shipping season of the year, according to Politico.

The association asked the administration to postpone vaccine mandates for the air cargo industry until the first half of 2022, otherwise holiday shipping and supply chain issues could grow even worse.

"We have significant concerns with the employer mandates…and the ability of industry members to implement the required employee vaccinations by Dec. 8," Stephen Alterman, president of the association, wrote in a letter, which was obtained by Politico.

Under the Biden administration order, federal workers must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8. Businesses that act as federal contractors, including major shipping companies, fall under the rule.

The deadline could cause significant supply chain problems, Alterman said, particularly at a time when companies such as UPS, FedEx, and DHL are already facing labor shortages. Some of these companies are also moving vital medical supplies, including COVID-19 vaccines, he said.

"Association members are now entering (or have entered) their peak seasons, with operations ramping up to support our customer base and the national economy as the annual holiday season approaches," he wrote.

These companies will be hiring hundreds of thousands of temporary workers to meet the needs of the busy shipping season, Alterman added.

"As a practical manner, we are extremely concerned that it will be virtually impossible to have 100% of our respective work forces vaccinated by December 8," he said.

"This problem is further exacerbated by the fact that we are already experiencing a worker shortage, both in the air and on the ground, and any loss of employees who refuse to be vaccinated will adversely impact needed operations," he added.

UPS and FedEx told Politico this week that the companies are reviewing the Biden administration order and urging employees to get vaccinated. The Cargo Airline Association also said it "agrees that the best way of stopping the spread of the coronavirus is for as many individuals as possible to be fully vaccinated."

At this time, however, Alterman said companies need more time to ensure their workers are fully vaccinated.

"Sliding this date into the first half of 2022 will allow association members to meet the demands of the e-commerce revolution during the holiday season while, at the same time, moving forward toward the 100% vaccination standard in the New Year," he said.

Sources

Politico: "Biden's vaccine mandate has cargo giants in a pre-holiday panic."

Politico: "Cargo Airline Association letter, Oct. 18, 2021."

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