SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Tyson Foods is requiring all of its U.S. workforce to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the Springdale-based food processor announced on Tuesday.

Tyson Foods is requiring employees at its U.S. office locations to be fully vaccinated by October 1, 2021.

All other employees are required to be fully vaccinated by November 1, 2021, subject to ongoing discussion with locations represented by unions, according to a Tyson Foods press release.

The company says this action makes it the largest U.S. food company to require COVID-19 vaccinations for its entire workforce.

“Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the single most effective thing we can do to protect our team members, their families and their communities,” said Dr. Claudia Coplein, Chief Medical Officer, Tyson Foods. “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.”

According to Tyson Foods, in support of efforts to fully vaccinate all team members, the company will also provide $200 to frontline employees, “subject to ongoing discussions with locations represented by unions,” once they receive both doses.

This is an expansion of Tyson Foods’ existing policy of compensating employees for up to four hours of regular pay if they are vaccinated outside of their normal shift or through an external source.

Tyson Foods says almost half of its U.S. workforce has already been vaccinated.

“We did not take this decision lightly. We have spent months encouraging our team members to get vaccinated – today, under half of our team members are,” CEO Donnie King wrote in a memo to employees. “We take this step today because nothing is more important than our team members’ health and safety, and we thank them for the work they do, every day, to help us feed this country, and our world.

Exceptions to the mandate will “involve workers who seek medical or religious accommodation,” according to Tuesday’s release.

All new hires to the company will be required to be fully vaccinated prior to their start date.