Starting next weekend, thousands of airport workers face potential mandatory vaccinations, so DC’s Pearson airport is trying to make sure all employees are up to date on immunizations and would be able to meet any new requirements set by the state or the CDC.
VA Midtown and D.C. Dulles are required to follow the new requirement. Officials said that may not have an immediate impact on public health, but he CDC has not reported an increase in the percentage of other infections causing hospitalization since the Pennsylvania state legislature passed a mandatory vaccination for some employees of the insurance company Hartsfield-Jackson.
“We’ve been looking at it carefully over the last several months,” said Sherry Marshall, chief information officer at the Airport Authority of Anne Arundel County (AAAC). Marshall said they are trying to move as quickly as possible to make sure the 21 percent of employees who are not up to date with their immunizations will be covered by the screening.
Virginia Homeland Security said this week that the aim of this weekend’s deadline is to make sure there is a minimal effect on travelers and public health. The legislation requires anyone working at any of the nine state-operated airports or federal facilities to have at least a two-dose vaccination for pertussis, tetanus and a diphtheria toxoid, and, those receiving a screening will receive a booster by the end of February.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that there is a 0.1 percent chance of being infected by an infection with the mumps or whooping cough. However, it is difficult to stop an outbreak. The Atlanta-based agency has stressed that no matter what, travelers should not avoid airports.
“The MMR vaccine is 100 percent effective against the three viruses in question,” spokesperson Tom Skinner told WTOP.
Testing is taking place at D.C. Dulles, Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and Emancipation Park on Feb. 1 for March 2018 testing for whooping cough. This past week, the airport announced the testing of 21,503 workers on Jan. 15 for active pertussis, through Jan. 20 for tetanus and diphtheria toxoid.
Dulles airport employee Roxanne Belekes doesn’t plan on being tested. She has been vaccinated for the mumps several times and that won’t matter. The 31-year-old is just happy to be back working and participating in her professional life.
“I can’t keep doing anything else,” Belekes said.
While officials were working to contact employees who were not up to date, customers were already learning about the public health law. On Monday, Stella and Mike Graham wrote in to the Post to say their two children were quarantined for testing earlier this month.
“We must live up to this little burdensome law,” Stella Graham wrote. “We still have to find a way to pay the $300 deposit for our travel card in Virginia this week, with all the hoops and tips.”
Megan Ervin, the number two public health official at Fairfax County, said the Virginia Board of Health has received 3,867 calls, emails and tweets from people asking about the law in the past week. In the next week or so, county officials said they would begin notifying the residents who did not receive their vaccinations. In the meantime, Ervin said, they would advise people to take some time to get vaccinated.