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Tag: vaccines

Vast Majority of TSA, CBP Employees Are Now in Compliance with Vaccine Mandate

By Steve Neavling

An increasing number of Border Patrol agents and TSA employees are getting vaccinated in compliance with President Biden’s executive order, according to updated data. 

As of Nov. 30, 96% of Homeland Security employees were in compliance. 

About 88% of employees are fully vaccinated, and 89% have received at least one dose. About 7% have “reasonable accommodation requests” and don’t have to get vaccinated, according to the data. 

“The health and safety of our workforce – and the American people that we serve – is of the utmost importance,” Homeland Security Deputy Secretary John Tien said in a statement. “Importantly, we have achieved this level of compliance without any interruption to the critical missions and services we provide the American people: from border and aviation security, to maritime search and rescue, to cybersecurity and the protection of critical infrastructure, just to name a few.  I am so grateful to our dedicated workforce, who have stepped up and done their part to get us there.”  

About 98% of CBP employees are in compliance, and 87% are vaccinated. An additional 11% are exempt. 

In the TSA, 93% are in compliance, with 86% vaccinated and 7% exempt. 

In November, some Republican lawmakers were calling for Border Patrol agents to be exempt from the executive order, saying national security is at stake. At the time, about 77% of agents were fully vaccinated.

Data by Homeland Security

Union Representing TSA Employees Asks Biden Administration to Delay Vaccine Deadline

By Steve Neavling

A labor union that represents federal workers, including TSA employees, is urging the White House to postpone the COVID-19 vaccine deadline until Jan. 4. 

The current deadline is Nov. 22. 

The request by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) comes after the Biden administration delayed the Nov. 22 deadline for federal contractors to Jan. 4. 

The AFGE said its members should not be held to a different deadline. 

“This double standard has caused confusion and distress among federal employees due to disparate treatment and incongruent deadlines for people who perform the government’s work in the same settings,” Everett Kelley, AFGE’s president wrote Tuesday to Shalanda Young, acting director of the Office of Budget and Management, Kiran Ahuja, acting director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and Jeff Zients, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, CNBC reports.

“The effect upon morale of federal employees being subject to possible discipline at this time of year cannot be overstated,” Kelley wrote.

Employees who aren’t vaccinated face possible termination or suspension. 

As Vaccine Deadline Looms, Some Lawmakers Want an Exemption for Border Patrol Agents to Avoid Mass Exodus

Border Patrol agent. Photo: CBP

By Steve Neavling

With less than a month before all federal employees must be vaccinated, some lawmakers are calling for an exemption for Border Patrol agents, saying national security is at stake. 

U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzalez, R-Texas, wrote a letter, cosigned by 43 other Republican lawmakers, that calls on Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to avoid enforcing the vaccine mandate to prevent a mass exodus of agents and other CBP employees.

“Our men and women in the Border Patrol have worked tirelessly to manage the crisis at our southern border,” the letter states. “This year especially, they have been subject to extraordinary amounts of mental and physical stress. With morale at an all-time low, this mandate will serve as the last straw for agents who can easily leave the agency for other law enforcement organizations at the state and local level or retire.”

President Biden’s mandate requires all federal employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 22.  

“As a (Homeland Security) federal employee, you must be fully vaccinated by November 22, 2021, unless you have received or have requested an exemption for religious or medical reasons,” the DHS website states. “All DHS federal employees, including those who seek an exemption from the vaccination requirement for religious or medical reasons, must provide their vaccination status, upload proof of vaccination and certify the truthfulness of your vaccination status and proof.”

The mandate comes at a time when a record number of migrants are crossing the border. 

Meanwhile, retired Border Patrol Agent Juan Garcia, who worked in the El Centro and Yuma sectors, died from COVID-19 complications, KYMA reports.

“Agent Juan Garcia was a strong, quiet man who would sacrifice his life for his fellow agents and citizens at a moment’s notice and without hesitation,” Border Patrol said in a statement. “He served his country and community by taking on the sometimes thankless job of protecting the U.S. border.”

40% of TSA Employees Face Potential Termination As Vaccine Deadline Looms

By Steve Neavling

About 40% of TSA’s workforce remains unvaccinated and could be terminated if they don’t roll up their sleeves by the Nov. 22 deadline. 

TSA Administrator David Pekoske told CNN that he’s “very hopeful” that the agency’s roughly 24,000 employees will meet the deadline. But for those who don’t, there are “contingency plans” being developed, he said.

“We have about 60 percent of our workforce has been vaccinated, that that number needs to go quite a bit higher over the next few weeks,” Pekoske said. “We are building contingency plans for if we do have some staffing shortages as a result of this, but I hope to avoid that.”

Pekoske is using town hall meetings to encourage employees to get vaccinated. 

But it may be too late for some employees. The Moderna vaccine, for example, is administered four weeks apart. It takes another two weeks for the patient to be considered fully vaccinated. 

The deadline, created by President Biden’s administration, comes just before the busy Thanksgiving travel period. 

3 U.S. Marshals Charged in COVID-19 Vaccination Dispute with Judge

A federal judge charged three members of the U.S. Marshals Service with contempt of court and obstructing justice over a dispute about COVID-19 vaccinations in South Dakota. 

U.S. District Judge Charles Kornmann lashed out at the supervisory law enforcement officers on Monday for allegedly permitting a deputy marshal to escort prisoners from a courtroom after refusing to disclose whether she had been vaccinated, The Washington Post reports.

The agency’s Chief of Staff John Kilgallon, South Dakota Marshal Daniel C. Mosteller, and Deputy South Dakota Marshal Stephen Houghtaling were charged in the dispute. 

“This was such an outrageous thing to do,” the judge said. “Nothing like this that we could find has ever been done in this country. If it is the marshals’ position that they can override court orders, they are badly mistaken.”

Kornmann is asking the U.S. Attorney’s Office to prosecute the case. 

In a letter to federal officials in March, Kornmann said he expects to be informed of the vaccination status of people who work in the courthouse. 

“We are not talking about politics or conspiracy theories. We are talking about science and protecting all of us who serve the public here as well as the jurors, lawyers and parties who come to this building,” Kornmann wrote. “If you are refusing to take the vaccines, I want to know that so I can decide what further action is required on my part.”