TSA reports 93 percent compliance with vaccine mandate ahead of the holidays

Associated Press/Marta Lavandier

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says the federal employee vaccine mandate won’t impact holiday travel, as more than 90 percent of employees have now been vaccinated against COVID-19. 

The agency reported that roughly 93 percent of its employees were vaccinated or qualified for an exemption by the Biden administration’s Monday deadline, three days before the Thanksgiving holiday. 

“Approximately 93 percent of @TSA employees are in compliance with today’s deadline for the federal employee vaccine mandate and exemption requirements,” TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein tweeted Monday as the mandate went into effect. 

“The employee vaccine mandate will not impact holiday travel. Happy Thanksgiving!” she added.

Just a month ago, only 60 percent of TSA employees had reported being vaccinated.  

TSA screened 2.24 million people in airports on Friday, the highest single-day total since the start of the pandemic, and the agency has reported more than 2 million passengers each day since. 

The agency said last week that it expected Thanksgiving air travel this year to return to pre-pandemic levels. Over the weekend, TSA’s screening numbers slightly trailed the same days in 2019 but were more than double last year’s figures.

Airlines have also been gearing up for the busy holiday travel season by increasing staff levels with the hope of avoiding a repeat of recent delays and cancellations that disrupted travel plans earlier this year.

Even with most TSA employees vaccinated, early holiday travel hasn’t been carefree. 

An accidental firearm discharge at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Saturday led to a temporary halt in flights as passengers jetted off to their holiday destinations.

Airlines have also been dealing with a steep rise in unruly and aggressive passengers this year. 

The Federal Aviation Administration announced it has received close to 300 reports of “passenger disturbances” after involving alcohol consumption as the agency implements a “zero tolerance” policy against unruly behavior.

Tags airline travel Biden Vaccine mandate Transportation Security Administration

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