TSA claims ‘very high’ vax rate but won’t share numbers ahead of Monday deadline

Transportation Security Administration officials insist they will be adequately staffed for the Thanksgiving travel week when President Joe Biden’s federal employee vaccine mandate goes into effect — but have not shared the agency’s vaccination rate since mid-October, when it stood at an abysmal 60 percent.

TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein insisted Thursday that the agency’s employee vaccination rate “is very high,” while adding that “we don’t have the full data yet.”

“TSA does not anticipate that the federal employee vaccine mandate will in any way impact the agency’s ability to staff for Thanksgiving travel,” Farbstein said in an email. “We continue to work diligently to implement the vaccine requirement, including by promoting vaccination and ensuring every TSA employee is uploading their attestation information.”

Biden’s vaccination order for federal workers takes effect this coming Monday, three days before Thanksgiving — the busiest time of the year for air travel.

TSA agent
The TSA’s employee vaccination rate in mid-October was just 60 percent.
REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
COVID-19 vaccine
President Biden’s federal employee vaccine mandate goes into effect on Nov. 22, 2021.
REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

New York and New Jersey airport officials expect a dramatic increase in air travel next week compared to 2020, when the country was still deep in the throws of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve seen some increases in passenger traffic in the last few weeks, but we do expect to see a heavy travel period,” Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Chief Operating Officer Huntley Lawrence said on Thursday. “Leave plenty of time, call ahead to check on your flights and make sure you are patient as you begin to prepare for your flight.