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TSA says its COVID-19 vaccination rates likely better than latest report shows

With the deadline still weeks away, officials said some vaccinated staff may not have reported their status yet.
Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 2:54 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 15, 2021 at 3:17 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - TSA employee vaccination rates made headlines Thursday, but as 6 News found Friday, the reported numbers don’t tell the whole story.

Transportation and Safety Administration deadline for vaccines is even more aggressive than the president’s national Dec. 8 date for federal workers and contractors: Their deadline is Nov. 22.

A report this week stating that 40% of TSA workers across the country have yet to get their first dose caused concern and speculation about whether — should staff be laid off after the deadline — the public could be impacted by delayed flights or other backups at the airport.

A regional spokesperson for the agency said that 40% figure includes employees who have not reported any vaccine data, which means the number of inoculated workers could be higher than the 60% they’ve tallied so far.

She explained that TSA personnel are in jobs where they are not readily in front of computers, adding many Transportation Security Officers do not have government-issued equipment to submit required information and responses to government-issues surveys. The spokesperson also said TSA responses to surveys are often delayed in comparison to other DHS components but eventually catch up.

Right now, the agency is hosting employee town halls, sending broadcast emails, and posting details on the requirement in breakrooms to let staff know how and where to upload forms.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 10,000 TSA employees have been diagnosed with COVID-19; 30 have lost their lives after contracting the disease.

The spokeswoman said TSA does anticipate that the vast majority of employees will get vaccinated, but no specific answer was given in terms of a contingency plan if that doesn’t pan out.

As federal employees, TSA staff will be required to comply with the requirement in alignment with the late November deadline.

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