Netflix is making the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for U.S. productions, becoming the first major studio to set a vaccination policy.
The vaccine will be required for those in Zone A — which includes members of cast and crew — but the streaming giant plans to make a few exceptions involving age, medical, and religious purposes, Deadline reports.
Last week, the Hollywood unions reached a deal for the new safety protocols for returning to work, allowing producers "the option to implement mandatory vaccination policies for casts and crew in Zone A on a production-by-production basis," according to a joint statement.
The coronavirus has resulted in numerous delays in Hollywood productions since March 2020. Along with Netflix, large companies including Facebook and Google have also made vaccination mandatory for U.S. employees.
The big decision comes just as another wave of the coronavirus sweeps the country, with the Delta variant now the most common strain in the U.S.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the highly contagious strain, also known as B.1.617.2, makes up for 82.2 percent of COVID cases in the U.S. as of July 17 — up from 62.7 percent two weeks prior.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, said last month that he's "very concerned" about the Delta variant spreading in under-vaccinated, high-risk areas, and added that it could split the country into "two Americas:" one in which the virus is circulating widely and the other with low rates because most residents are vaccinated.
"When you have such a low level of vaccination superimposed upon a variant that has a high degree of efficiency of spread, what you are going to see among under-vaccinated regions — be that states, cities or counties — you're going to see these individual types of blips," he said, CNN reported. "It's almost like it's going to be two Americas."
As of Wednesday morning, more than half of the U.S. population, or 57.1% of Americans, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 49.3% are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. Of the vaccine-eligible Americans (meaning those aged 12 and up), 66.8 percent have received at least one dose and 57.6 percent are fully vaccinated.