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United Airlines, American Airlines to begin administering COVID-19 vaccines to employees at O’Hare

O’Hare International Airport’s two biggest airlines will begin administering COVID-19 vaccines to eligible employees at the airport on Thursday.

Both United Airlines and American Airlines received doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Chicago-based United’s vaccines will be available by appointment at the airline’s health clinic for employees in Terminal 2, according to a letter to employees from Omar Idris, vice president of Chicago-based United’s O’Hare hub.

Employees who live or work in Chicago and are at least 65 years old or are members of the flight crew are eligible and were expected to receive information on how to register as early as Tuesday evening, according to the letter.

American said all of its O’Hare-based employees are eligible to get the vaccine, but customer-facing employees will get first priority for appointments. Vaccines will be administered in a former airline lounge in Terminal 3 by Premise Health, the same company that helps run United’s clinic.

American is holding a virtual town hall with its Chicago Vice President Franco Tedeschi and medical staff so employees can ask any questions they have about the vaccine.

It wasn’t clear how many doses either airline would receive.

While United CEO Scott Kirby has said he supports making the vaccine mandatory for employees if it can work out the logistics of making it available to all workers and if other companies follow suit, both United and American said vaccinations remain voluntary.

“This is the most critical part of the recovery for our industry,” Idris said in the letter to employees. “Widespread vaccination — along with wearing a mask, social distancing, and hand washing — will help stop the spread of COVID-19 as we welcome more customers back in the coming months.”

This article originally appeared on Chicago Tribune

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