At a time when South Africa is looking to climb out of a pandemic-induced economic…
Around 40 percent of the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) employees remain uninoculated as the deadline for civilian federal government workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 approaches.
“We have about 60 percent of our workforce has been vaccinated, that number needs to go quite a bit higher over the next few weeks,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in an October 13 interview with CNN.
The deadline is set for November 22, the Monday ahead of Thanksgiving, during a week that happens to be one of the busiest travel periods of every year. Now, there are only a little over five weeks left to go.
That may seem like plenty of time until you consider Moderna’s two-dose vaccine protocol dictate requires the jabs be given four weeks apart, and a full 14 days need to have lapsed following the final dose of any vaccine for a person to be considered fully vaccinated.
Pfizer’s two doses can be given three weeks apart, making the last possible date for someone to get started on his/her vaccine course and still meet the deadline October 18. The latest possible date to start on Moderna’s vaccine schedule would have been October 11.
The last hope for many civilian federal employees who didn’t plan far enough ahead may be finding a single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The latest date on which they could receive the J&J product would be November 8, two weeks before the deadline arrives.
Pekoske said that he’s “very hopeful” that more employees, including checkpoint screeners, will meet the deadline and the agency will avoid worker shortages. TSA staffing shortages would almost definitely result in longer lines at checkpoints during the busy upcoming holiday season.
“We are building contingency plans, for if we do have some staffing shortages as a result of this, but I hope to avoid that,” Pekoske affirmed. A TSA spokesperson told The Points Guy (TPG) in an email, “We continue to urge employees in regularly scheduled town hall meetings, shift briefs, and broadcast messages to the workforce to obtain their vaccination.”
And, with the White House having just announced that it will lift restrictions for vaccinated foreign nationals starting November 8, there’s bound to be an influx of inbound and outbound international travelers in the coming months.
“Employees who choose to remain unvaccinated for COVID-19, and have not received or have a pending request for a legally required exemption will be subject to discipline, up to and including removal from federal service,” the aforementioned TSA spokesperson told TPG.
“We anticipate the vast majority of TSA employees will get vaccinated. Thousands of TSA agents upload their vaccination status every week,” the spokesperson added.