About 24,000 employees, including some airport screeners, have until November 22 - the Monday before Thanksgiving - to get the shot or have the chance of being fired under President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate for all federal workers.
Last month, the president announced the mandate for all federal workers and said on Thursday that vaccine mandates shouldn't divide Americans as he warned that more directives were coming for private businesses.
Chatting with CNN, TSA Administrator David Pekoske said he was "very hopeful" that his agency's employees would meet the deadline but said that "contingency plans" were in development if some employees were unable to work and were not vaccinated in time.
"About 60 percent of our workforce has been vaccinated, that number needs to go quite a bit higher over the next few weeks," Pekoske told CNN. "We are building contingency plans for if we do have some staffing shortages as a result of this, but I hope to avoid that."
CNN reported that Pekoske has been holding town hall meetings to help more employees get vaccinated.
With the deadline six weeks away, workers have already missed the point at which they can get immunized with the Moderna vaccine. The two-shot regimen is given four weeks apart, and an additional two weeks are needed after the shots for a patient to be considered fully vaccinated.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is applied three weeks apart, leaving workers a bit of space unless they decide to get the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. CNN noted the latest possible date that federal employees can get the Pfizer vaccine is October 18.
In a memorandum sent out earlier this month, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) said federal agencies could begin implementing the vaccine mandate starting on November 9 for employees who are still not vaccinated.
"Employees who refuse to be vaccinated or provide proof of vaccination are subject to disciplinary measures, up to and including removal or termination from Federal service," OPM Director Kiran Ahuja said. "The only exception is for individuals who receive a legally required exception pursuant to established agency processes."