Fauci says the US should consider mandating a vaccine for domestic air travel

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a press conference in the James S. Brady press briefing room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, December 1, 2021.

Jim Lo Scalzo | Environmental Protection Agency | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The country’s top infectious disease expert said Monday that the federal government should consider ordering Covid-19 vaccines for domestic flights.

“When you make vaccination a requirement, that’s another incentive to vaccinate more people,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview with “Morning Joe” on MSNBC. “If you want to do that with domestic flights, I think that’s something that should be taken seriously.”

There is no indication at this point that the vaccine authorization is on its way to US flights. When asked on MSNBC, Fauci, the White House’s chief medical advisor, declined to say whether he had made the recommendation to President Joe Biden.

And when the White House was asked for comment, CNBC referred Biden’s statement to ABC News last week, saying, “It has been looked into, but the recommendation I got, is not necessary.”

Meanwhile, the travel industry voiced opposition to mandating a vaccine for domestic travel when Fauci made a similar proposal in September.

Later on Monday, Fauci said he did not believe the mandate would be imposed any time soon.

Passengers push their baggage past a baggage claim inside the United Airlines terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) during the holiday season as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus (COVID-19) threatens to increase the number of cases in Los Angeles, California, US Dec. 22, 2021.

Bing Guan | Reuters

“Right now, I don’t think people should expect that we’ll have requirements on domestic flights to vaccinate people,” he told CNN. “When I was asked this question, I gave an honest answer. It’s on the table, and we consider it. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. I doubt we’ll see something like that for the foreseeable future.”

Already, American passengers must wear and keep masks on board for the duration of the flight except when eating or drinking.

International travelers must also show evidence of vaccination and test negative for Covid in order to board a flight to the US, as well as wear a mask.

With the omicron coronavirus spreading rapidly across the United States, airlines have canceled more than 2,000 flights since Friday, in part due to an outbreak among staff.

Across the country, omicron accounts for the majority of new infections, with 73% of new cases as of last Monday. The highly contagious variant has caused a few states, including New Jersey and New York, to report more cases of coronavirus than in any other seven-day period since the start of the pandemic.

A few cities in the United States, including New York City, require proof of vaccination to attend indoor venues such as Broadway theaters, sports arenas, restaurants, and fitness centers.



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