News & Reviews Amtrak requires mandatory employee vaccinations

Amtrak requires mandatory employee vaccinations

By Bob Johnston | September 23, 2021

| Last updated on May 30, 2024

Office staff return to worksites now delayed until Jan. 10, 2022

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People in glass-covered passenger rail car
A conductor reminds Sightseer Lounge passengers to “mask up” after eating aboard the westbound California Zephyr in October, 2020. All Amtrak employees will now be required to be vaccinated. Bob Johnston

WASHINGTON — Aligning its health policies with newly established federal mandates, Amtrak is eliminating the ability for employees to opt for weekly COVID-19 testing in lieu of vaccinations, effective Nov. 22.

In an Employee Advisory issued this week, Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn outlined how the company will help facilitate its vaccination requirements and ways in which employees are able to submit proof that they have received the shots.

It establishes cutoff dates between Oct. 11 and Nov. 8 for meeting the Nov. 22 deadline, based on the varying times the  vaccines require for patients to become fully protected.

Amtrak has partnered with Walgreens drugstores to stage clinics on site at nine company locations across the system, where pharmacists will be available “to have private discussions and answer any questions you may have about the vaccine.” Or employees can request a voucher to get inoculations at any Walgreens and “will continue to receive up to four hours of straight time pay for getting vaccine shots.”

Amtrak had previously required employees to submit proof of vaccination by July 1 (unless they instead insisted on being tested — an option that will be no longer available) or face disciplinary action for missing the deadline. The company announced that penalties for missing that date are being waived, but the advisory did not spell out specific consequences if the new Nov. 22 deadline is missed.

Workers may opt out of getting the vaccine based on medical reasons or “sincerely held religious beliefs;” the advisory supplied internal links that explain company policies that allow for those exception requests, which must be submitted by Oct. 11.

Flynn announced that an employee town hall would be held on Oct. 4 to discuss the changes. He concludes, “Complying with this mandate by getting vaccinated is the simplest and most effective thing we can do to protect ourselves and our families, customers and coworkers.”

7 thoughts on “Amtrak requires mandatory employee vaccinations

    1. J ROBERT – To answer you question, the United States doesn’t have a list of what qualifies as a recognized religious denomination and what does not qualify. Some countries do but we don’t. For better of for worse, in the United States your religion is whatever you say it is. In America, if people claim to worship purple antelopes flying upside down through the sky preaching against vaccination, then that’s their religion.

    2. Charles, I’m a member of the “First Church of the Gooey Death and Discount House of Worship” right here in Del Rio, Texas, the gold buckle of the bible belt. Does that qualify? Of course I’m not an Amtrak employee so it doesn’t matter.

    3. Some of the Covid vaccines rely on the cloned DNA from a fetus taken over 30 years ago. There is a religious objection to using an unborn fetus as part of medical research or for medicinal purposes.

      While technically the vaccine contains absolutely no material from the fetus, the fact one was used for development is objectionable to some.

      I want to know is why members of the US Postal Service Union is exempt? Why are illegal immigrants? I can understand the military as anthrax and other bio-weapon vaccines are required as part of joining the service.

  1. Yes, good. It has been proven by the CDC that all who are vaccinated have only a very rare chance of getting a serious Covid infection requiring hospitalization.
    Many dying today are unvaccinated people.

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