The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is optimistic that an employee vaccine obligation will not cause travel havoc over the Thanksgiving travel period, as the deadline for workers, including TSA airport security screeners, to get the COVID-19 shot passed approaches.
On Monday, the deadline for DHS personnel to be completely vaccinated, the agency said that the mandate compliance rate among eligible employees had now reached 93 percent.
The DHS said it doesn’t expect any workforce shortages as a result of the vaccine mandate because the majority of employees are already fully vaccinated and others are on their way to becoming so.
Travelers are still being advised to expect long queues at airport security screening locations around the United States in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and to include additional time in their schedules.
The TSA stated on Sunday that it examined 2.21 million passengers at airport checkpoints, which is near to Friday’s epidemic high and less than 5% lower than the same day last year.
The TSA, like many other sectors, has been desperately trying to recruit additional workers throughout the summer, and staffing issues at some airports may continue to be a source of traveler frustration in the coming weeks.
Since early last month, when over 40% of DHS personnel were still unvaccinated, vaccination rates have risen dramatically. Because of the low vaccination rates, there were genuine fears of widespread staff walkouts as the deadline passed on November 22.
Vaccine mandate supporters have pointed out that the mandate has once again proven to be effective. United Airlines, the first U.S. carrier to enforce a staff immunization mandate in the summer, achieved near-universal vaccination throughout the travel industry.
Fearing that the directive may result in workforce shortages and walkouts during the busy holiday travel season, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have put back the deadline for their own vaccine obligations into the new year.
Despite the fact that the deadline for DHS employees has passed, the government will not terminate those who have not been vaccinated. Before disciplinary action is taken, workers will go through a counseling procedure in which they will be persuaded to get the shot.