FILE – COVID-19 vaccine trials

(The Center Square) – Tyson Foods will require all of its workers to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by Nov. 1.

“Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the single most effective thing we can do to protect our team members, their families and their communities,” Dr. Claudia Coplein, the company's chief medical officer, said in a statement. “With rapidly rising COVID-19 case counts of contagious, dangerous variants leading to increasing rates of severe illness and hospitalization among the U.S. unvaccinated population, this is the right time to take the next step to ensure a fully vaccinated workforce.”

Tyson is the largest food company in the U.S. to require vaccines for its entire workforce, the company said. A subsidiary, Tyson Fresh Meats, has two plants in Nebraska: one in Dakota City and the other in Lexington.

But some other big employers in Nebraska such as Union Pacific Railroad, First National Bank of Omaha and Mutual of Omaha, are not requiring employee vaccinations, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

The same is true for smaller businesses such as restaurants.

“As an association, we have been encouraging our members to encourage their staff to get vaccinated,” Zoe Olson, executive director of the Nebraska Restaurant Association, told The Center Square. “We know we can’t survive another shutdown. But that is a decision each restaurateur makes. They are independent businesses.”

The largest challenge facing restaurants remains the labor shortage, she added.

“Business has returned with a vengeance,” she said. “Nebraska has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation. We simply don’t have enough bodies. It’s not just our restaurants. It’s for every business. Nebraska doesn’t have sufficient help.”

Mandating vaccines for workers could put a further strain on employment, she said.

The return of college students this fall could help.

“They have been and continue to be important members of our staffs,” Olson said. “Many of our colleges and universities in the state are mandating vaccines. Those are students who would feel safer working in our restaurants.”