Dear Administrator Pekoske,
As we approach the November 22, 2021 deadline for federal employees to get their COVID-19
vaccine, we write to urge your agency to consider delaying that deadline or otherwise modifying
the agency's vaccine mandate to ensure U.S. airports do not face a shortage of Transportation
Security Administration (TSA) officers, especially during the upcoming holiday season.
During a media interview on October 13, you indicated that 40% of your workforce is not
currently vaccinated against COVID-19. Further, the possibility of being fully vaccinated with
vaccines that require two doses has elapsed already, meaning that potentially thousands of
employees might not even be able to meet the November 22 deadline even if they receive their
first dose in advance of that date.
Many analysts and companies in the travel industry are predicting a busy holiday season as
demand for air travel continues to recover from the lows experienced during the pandemic. This
increased demand for air travel, combined with the looming threat that many TSA officers could
not be on the job if they do not receive their vaccine, could result in disastrous delays and
backups for many who may be traveling to see family for the first time since COVID hit.
We are concerned about the inflexibility of the vaccine mandate, and strongly urge you to
consider a delay, exceptions, or alternatives that will allow TSA officers to stay on the job and
keep our airports open during what is anticipated to be a busy holiday travel season. For instance,
alternatives like a COVID testing regimen merit consideration.
We must not allow an arbitrary deadline to negatively impact travel when TSA has shown the
ability to stay on the job safely for months. Please take urgent action to ensure that there are not
needless labor shortages among the TSA workforce or delays at U.S. airports.