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TSA vaccine mandate could cause staffing shortage, delay travel

Most recent data from the agency shows just more than 60 percent of staff are vaccinated against COVID-19.

TAMPA, Fla. — Traveling for the holidays could be even more of a headache if the Transportation Security Administration's COVID vaccine mandate causes staff shortages. 

The deadline to get vaccinated is Monday, but the most recent data shared shows just more than 60 percent of staff at the TSA has reported they've gotten the shot.

Experts project travel will be up this year by up to 80 percent, according to CBS News, but the TSA administrator insists travel will be a smooth process despite the rise this holiday.

TSA Administrator David Pekoske told CBS News on Wednesday the agency will examine exemptions, medical and religious included, and make a determination on staffing in the next several weeks. 

"There is a potential if you do not have an approved exemption and not vaccinated that you will lose your job," Pekoske said.

If staffing shortages do become a problem, experts forecast it will be a minor inconvenience for Thanksgiving, but Christmas could be a different story. That's when a potential TSA staff shortage would line up with the largest number of travelers.

The vaccination deadline comes amid a battle between the state of Florida and the federal government over vaccine mandates. Gov. Ron DeSantis and his administration have filed several federal lawsuits against the Biden administration during a special legislative session.