The Transportation Security Administration says 4-in-10 members of its workforce, including screeners, remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 as its deadline looms.
The deadline for civilian federal government workers to be fully vaccinated is Nov. 22 — the Monday before Thanksgiving, one of the busiest travel times of the year.
“We have about 60% of our workforce has been vaccinated, that that number needs to go quite a bit higher over the next few weeks,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske told CNN in an exclusive interview.
The Nov. 22 deadline for being fully vaccinated is still six weeks away, but the deadlines for receiving the vaccines are rapidly approaching or, in the case of the Moderna vaccine, have already passed, since an individual has to receive the full schedule of doses and wait two weeks before being considered fully vaccinated.
In order to meet that deadline, the last possible date for receiving the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine is Oct. 18, while the latest possible date for the first dose of Moderna was Oct. 11. The Pfizer vaccine requires a three-week waiting period in between first and second doses. Moderna requires a four-week wait. The last possible date to receive the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is Nov. 8, two weeks before the Nov. 22 deadline.
Pekoske said he is “very hopeful” that the agency’s employees can meet the deadline and that there will not be worker shortages.
“We are building contingency plans, for if we do have some staffing shortages as a result of this, but I hope to avoid that,” he said.
Pekoske has been holding employee town hall meetings to make the case to the agency’s workforce.