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Spirit AeroSystems will mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for Wichita employees

Hugo Phan
KMUW/File photo

All of the company's U.S. employees will be required to be vaccinated by Dec. 8.

Spirit AeroSystems will require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8.

The company told employees Wednesday that the mandate applies to all of Spirit’s 10,500 workers in the United States, including 9,000 in Wichita. Spirit also has domestic operations in Oklahoma, Texas, North Carolina and Maine.

Spirit said it’s following a directive from President Joe Biden that applies to contractors who do work for the federal government. Spirit, among Wichita’s largest employers, is involved in several U.S. defense programs and does work for other federal agencies.

The federal mandate includes employees not working directly on defense programs.

“The health and safety of employees has been a paramount concern as we have managed the challenges Spirit has faced during the pandemic and the requirements of the Executive Order,” the company said in a statement.

Spirit is in the process of collecting vaccine information from employees. Workers who are not vaccinated by Dec. 8, the deadline in Biden’s directive, will be terminated.

Employees will be allowed to request a vaccination waiver because of a medical condition or religious belief.

Spirit said it is working with local health care providers to administer vaccines free of charge.

Kansas Republican legislative leaders have formed a special committee to find ways to resist federal COVID-19 mandates.

If the state can’t block federal directives, the committee may try to stop Kansas businesses from imposing their own vaccine requirements and firing workers who don’t comply.

Tom joined KMUW in 2017 after spending 37 years with The Wichita Eagle where he held a variety of reporting and editing roles. He also is host of The Range, KMUW’s weekly show about where we live and the people who live here. Tom is an adjunct instructor in the Elliott School of Communication at Wichita State University.