450+ TSA workers at RDU among federal employees under mandate to get COVID-19 vaccine by Nov. 22

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – In a little over two weeks, federal employees will have to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or face losing their jobs.

The mandate comes as travel is making a rebound for the holidays and flights are filling up over the next few months.

While RDU International Airport is not operating at 2019 levels, the airport authority expects travel traffic to pick up in the coming weeks.

“The airport’s a lot more crowded now and the planes are completely full,” frequent flyer Billy Summers said.

RDU has more than 450 TSA employees that are subject to the federal vaccination mandate, potentially adding another headache to the already heightened holiday season.

While the TSA has not released the number of employees here or nationally who have been vaccinated, a spokesperson released a statement saying: “Federal agencies, including TSA, are laser-focused on vaccinating their workforce ahead of the November 22 deadline for federal employees. Like other federal agencies, we are continuing to collect updated vaccination information from employees as we approach the deadline.”

Last month, Republican congressmen Ted Budd and Madison Cawthorn, both of North Carolina, signed a joint letter urging the TSA to delay or modify the deadline, citing potential staffing concerns.

But White House officials around the same time said that they don’t believe the federal mandates will impact holiday travel.

Summers said he’s not worried about delays but recommends people get to the airport early regardless this holiday season.

“I’m TSA pre-approved so those lines are a lot shorter but I will still get here at least an hour and a half to two hours before,” Summers said.

During Thanksgiving weekend 2019, RDU broke a passenger traffic record with 54,800 people flying through the airport that Sunday.

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