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U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer is urging the TSA to hire more security dogs

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Ted S. Warren
/
AP

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York wants the Transportation Security Administration to make contingency plans for staff shortages over the holidays after the TSA announced 40% of the agency's staff are still not vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I’m here to say a major part of this contingency plan should enforce staffing and security should include the deployment of canine teams,” Schumer said at a press conference on Sunday.

Schumer said the TSA could hire more security dogs, if staffers get sick or laid off for refusing to meet the vaccine mandate for federal employees. The deadline set by the Biden administration for federal employees to be fully vaccinated is November 22.

Unvaccinated federal employees that fail to comply with the vaccine mandate could lose their jobs as soon as November 9, when agencies have been authorized to start terminating unvaccinated employees. Schumer says that could lead to long security times just weeks before Thanksgiving travel.

“Canine teams are really effective. They can help secure national security and allow TSA agents to more effectively and efficiently screen individuals for explosives,” Schumer said. “It really works and it moves the lines along.”

Another part of the contingency plan is educating the 40% of unvaccinated TSA employees about safe and effective COVID vaccines.

R. Carter Langston, a TSA spokesperson, told Newsday that thousands of TSA employees upload their vaccination every week and he believes that the vast majority of TSA workers will get vaccinated.

Since Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots and a few weeks taken apart, unvaccinated federal employees are running out of time before the mandate is underway.