Southwest Airlines requiring all employees to get COVID-19 vaccine

All Southwest Airlines employees will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a press release published by the company on Monday. 

"Southwest Airlines must join our industry peers in complying with the federal government's COVID-19 vaccination directive," said Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines chairman and CEO. "I encourage all Southwest Employees to meet the federal directive, as quickly as possible, since we value every individual and want to ensure job security for all."

Southwest employees must be vaccinated by Dec. 8 or be approved for a religious, medical, or disability accommodation, the company said. 

The move follows a similar policy by United Airlines, which recently began the process of firing employees who refused to get inoculated. 

Nearly 600 United employees faced termination last week before the company announced that the number of employees facing termination for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 had dropped nearly by half, to 320, after more of its 67,000 U.S. workers provided evidence of vaccination.

RELATED: United Airlines says some workers who faced firing over COVID-19 vaccine policy got shots

United Airlines announced in August that it would require U.S. employees to get vaccinated, calling it an important safety measure. Employees faced a deadline this Monday to upload images of their vaccination cards showing that they had gotten at least one shot.

The airline policies follow a sweeping workplace vaccine requirement from the Biden administration requiring employers with more than 100 workers to require COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly tests for the virus. Federal workers are also required to get vaccinated, as are members of the U.S. military.

In the face of the most recent COVID-19 surge, more companies have announced their own vaccine requirements in hopes of increasing pressure on employees to get the shots.

Lawyers with the Justice Department determined that federal law does not prohibit public agencies and private businesses from mandating COVID-19 vaccines under emergency use authorization according to an opinion posted by the DOJ in August, FOX News reported.

The U.S. hit a critical milestone last week: 200 million people in the U.S. have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

More than 214 million people, or 64.6% of the total U.S. adult population, have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.