The federal government issued a requirement for all employees to be vaccinated or seek an exemption by the start of Thanksgiving week, but 40% of TSA workers remain unvaccinated putting travelers and the federal government on a collision course.
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Federal Employee Vaccination Date Looms
On September 9th, 2021, President Joe Biden issued an executive order detailing federal vaccine mandates that would require all federal employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccination or seek an exemption by Monday, November 22nd, 2021.
White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki answered a question from the press pool about the federal mandate and falling short of the requirements:
“Q […] And then if I could, the vaccine mandate for the civilian federal workforce is set to take effect on Monday. Can you provide us an update on what the implementation is going to be like? And are there any concerns about possibly having staffing shortages because of that?
MS. PSAKI: There are not. Let me give you just an update on this overall — again, for people who haven’t been paying as close attention. So, November 22nd is the deadline — not 12:01 a.m. that morning, but by the end of the day. But we don’t see it as a cliff. We’ll be providing more guidance in days to come.
We are the largest employer in the country. So it is — the U.S. government that is, of course — so it’s going to take some time to collect the data, even as it comes in that day. And once we have gone through the data and have that, we will share that with all of you publicly.
But especially as we know, we will — what we have seen is there is a surge in attestations and vaccination as we get closer to the deadline, which is certainly encouraging. But we want to have the final data Monday, through the day, before we release that publicly. It’s going to take a little bit of time to process.
But, no, we do not anticipate facing any governmental operational disruptions due to this requirement. And, in fact, the requirement will avoid disruptions, in our view, in our labor force because vaccinations help avoid COVID.”
The White House is indicating it does not see any potential disruption due to this vaccination requirement and has no intention to move the date.
Up To 40% of TSA Staff Unvaccinated
Reports have emerged that up to 40% of Transportation Security Administration staff is unvaccinated as of Friday, November 19th, 2021. More than any other sector of the federal government, the TSA will be the agency that millions of Americans interact with primarily this week ahead of the busiest travel week since 2019, and by some estimates, ever. The “four in ten” projection comes from a federal union estimate but not confirmed numbers. It could be higher or lower.
President Biden’s executive order could have pushed the date or indicated that it only required one shot of the two-shot options and rather than being fully-vaccinated, a partial vaccination status would suffice. They’ve not done that. Rather, the only wavering the Biden Administration has shown is that it will complete its accounting at the end of Monday and not the start of Monday, a semantics shift that is unlikely to produce a meaningful difference.
Some 22 airports as of 2019 had opted out of TSA screeners for airport security, but San Francisco and San Jose, California – two of the private contractor operated airports – are likely to face their own requirements not due to federal law, but rather due to their employer and state mandates.
When the President signed his executive order, he no doubt chose this date to ensure that workers would be ready for the busy Thanksgiving travel week. It gave two and a half months for employees to get vaccinated before the mandate took effect. With just one day left, even the biggest push would leave many outside of the requirement.
The President also issued an executive order requiring that private sector businesses with 100 or more employees vaccinate their staff or submit for weekly testing at a cost to the business owners or their staff directly. President Biden tasked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) with executing this directive under the auspices that COVID was an occupational risk.
The same mandate also applies to health care facilities that service medicare and medicaid patients, under the department of Health and Human Services. Just shy of one-third of health care workers remain unvaccinated, closely parralleling the overall US vaccination rate.
Unlike the federal employee version, the compliance date for the private sector mandate has slid and now, following lawsuits filed by some 26 states, is on ice for the time being.
Hydrick Thomas, president of the American Federation of Government Employees’ division representing front-line airport security officers, is less worried about enforcement of the mandate this week and instead is more concerned about the following travel period ahead of Christmas
“They are not going to be ready for Christmas if they get rid of everybody who chooses not to get vaccinated,” Thomas said. “If they don’t accommodate employees during these holidays coming upon us, we are going to have an issue with the screening process.”
If, however, Press Secretary Psaki’s indication that the requirement will remain in place and will be enforced, already short staffed checkpoints could face unprecedented crowds with dramatically fewer staff members. That puts travelers, nay, the American public between workers who have declined the shot for whatever reason and the federal government.
The two are on a collision course of resolve.
The federal government has set and maintained a date for all federal workers to become fully vaccinated, seek an exemption, or face termination. An estimated 40% of TSA workers remain unvaccinated ahead of what could be the busiest week for travel ever in the United States. Unvaccinated TSA workers and the federal government are on a collision course this week with the traveling public in the crosshairs. It’s unclear at this time, which party will blink first.
What do you think? Will the mandate stand? Will there be a surge in TSA workers who seek vaccination either before or shortly after the mandate deadline?
Those numbers seem to match the general population. If anything I imagine the Govt will amend this to allow for a first shot to qualify for remaining on the job with an extension to 30 days after and proof of the second. No way they will back down though. Too much is invested in this and the majority of the population globally is losing patience with the unvaccinated.
I’ll be flying on Tuesday from DFW. It will be interesting to see what happens given a potential AA meltdown and TSA staffing.
I’ll be flying tomorrow and be back by the end of the week, as is a lot of domestic travelers I would presume. I hope this dumb mandate doesn’t ruin anything for us responsible travelers.
Covid Killed More Americans in 2021 Than 2020, and the GOP Death Cult Is Mostly to Blame.
Every three days, COVID-19 kills as many people as the 9/11 attacks did.
Yes judging by what I routinely see manning the TSA stations, it’s clear that 95% of them are right wing Trumpsters…………NOT!!!!
Here at ATL, more than half are minorities, hardly ‘Trumpsters” I’d guess.
Compared to 2016, Trump increased the number of African-American and Hispanic-American voters who voted for him. Trumps gains in 2020 over 2016 were strongest with minority males.
Maybe those TSA agents paid too much attention to the anti-Vax stuff Biden and Harris were spewing back in the day. Sad.
“The GOP Death Cult Is Mostly to Blame.”
From the CDC webpage:
“Because of these and other challenges, some Black or African American people and Hispanic or Latino people are less likely to be vaccinated against COVID-19 than people in other racial and ethnic minority groups and non-Hispanic White people”
Not typical Trump voters.
In any case, there’s an outbreak in Austria, a hotbed of vaccinated Trump supporters…
Austria only has around 65% of its population vaccinated, and the biggest holdouts are two groups: right-wing-voting men and young adults without a university degree.
Great opportunity to disband TSA and all their nonsense such as the war on water – won’t happen sadly
Explosives can be made out of liquids. That’s why you can’t bring your own drinks.
Pretty sad state of affairs when it’s so easy to figure out what kind of people are disproportionately more likely to be working for the TSA based on vaccination rates.
Apparently, the US Marines is the part of the military with the worst vaccination rates.
What are these “brave men and women” who “serve on the frontlines” afraid of from a vaccine administered to several hundred million and that is safer than all that junk food being consumed?
Provide all passengers with PreCheck type screening at the airport screening checkpoint, end the ID checking nonsense, and just with that we can afford to get rid of many thousands of the TSA employees without a hiccup to throughput.
Unfortunately, any mass firing of those unvaccinated characters living on taxpayer money will likely mean that some of them may go postal somewhere.
Agreed on both points.
Your idea is not a safe one. Many planes will likely go down. And I’m confused why it would be an “unfortunate” thing if many unvaccinated tsa employees went to work for the postal service. Very confused
Why is it a bad thing that they will likely get a job for the postal service?
“Going postal” has a very different meaning.
If you want to avoid a TSA meltdown over Thanksgiving, make sure to tell your Senators to vote for Build Back Better.
These two things are completely irrelevant to each other. You just sound stupid.
These two things are completely irrelevant from eachother.
Insane mandate… kudos to those who are trying to maintain some control of their lives in light of this gross governmental overreach.
It is unfortunate that passengers could be be faced with delays due to a completely unnecessary overstep on the part of our government. People should take care of themselves as they see fit – personally vaccinate/ mask/ hide away all you want – and forgo the annoying judgement calls on the behavior of others.
We’re all in our little echo chambers, but I’ll say that my echo chamber is 90% PhD scientists. Despite the fact that all but one of us is vaccinated, I don’t know a single person that supports a vaccine mandate. “Trust the science” is a laughable concept. Yeah, trust the science when you have decades of peer reviewed research, which we emphatically do not have here. Otherwise, make your best guess for yourself and yourself alone…and let others do the same.
We can all make fun of the TSA, but ultimately they’re a hell of a lot more at risk of Covid than most people, and they’ve apparently made their decisions based on what they’ve experienced.
According to a CMU/Pitt study, vaccine hesitancy is highest among those with PhDs. I know of two neuroscience PhDs who work for Big Pharma who aren’t vaccinated.
Brandon’s TSA vaccination mandate may shut down the skies like the 911 terrorist attack. Who needs terrorists when we have the enemy within? Let’s Go Brandon!
Interesting that my closest airport is LGB.
The Biden Administration is not going to undertake a mass layoff of TSA workers between now and the end of the year. Ruining Thanksgiving and Christmas for millions of voters is not good politics. They are dumb, but not that dumb!
I don’t think a vaccine mandate for adults is the best way to convince the problem holdouts to step up and stop being scared chickens and angry roosters. Especially if we have more pandemics in the living years ahead and more vaccinations will be needed. Unfortunately, more and more people live in their own cocoons where the filter/sorting dynamic is such that they get their own fringe or uninformed beliefs reinforced rather than challenged and thereby learning to be open-minded about the possibility of the comfortable echo chamber not being right and everyone else being wrong.
That said, it’s pretty scummy for some people trying to play up vaccine fears despite having gotten vaccinated against Covid-19 themselves as soon as they could.
End the mandates! This is tyranny of the first order!! Let Freedom ring
I commend the 40% of TSA personnel for standing up to the mandate to take the COVID shot. I consider my vaccine status to be a highly personal and private matter with my doctors and immediate family and it is NO ONE else’s business.
Vaccine mandates implicitly presume that those who do not take the shot are somehow more dangerous than those who do, though not all who decline the shot get infected. In fact, people who get “fully vaccinated” also get infected and spread the Virus. Some people who get “fully vaccinated” even have to go to the hospital or even die. Good cases in point would be Gibraltar, Ireland, Israel and Vermont. In other words, there is the implicit presumption being pushed that those do not take the shot are somehow bad or dangerous people when in many cases that is the furthest thing from the truth.
Since the rollout of different iterations of the COVID shot has happened faster than any short and since the goalposts have been moved so many times by the powers that be (remember 15 days to flatten the curve) it is understandable that many people would be leery of taking the shot. Due to lackof time it is literally impossible for long term clinical trials to have taken place.
That employers and the civil authorities would use coercion and bullying to compel people into taking a shot that has been rushed into production against their better judgment is nothing short of reprehensible. In fact I believe it is diabolical.
The TSA said 93% Monday morning.
So much for the doomsday scenario. At DFW now and it took all of two minutes at Pre. The regular line had maybe 8 people waiting. Seems that even in Dallas, where you would imagine more resistance, that TSA staff have gotten their shots after all.