As COVID-19 cases rise, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, said Monday that the US should examine a vaccine mandate for domestic air travel, suggesting a possible embrace of an idea that the Biden administration had previously dismissed.
According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s main science advisor on pandemic preparedness, such a mandate might boost the country’s low vaccination rate as well as provide better protection on planes, where federal laws require all passengers aged 2 and above to wear a mask.
“Making vaccination mandatory creates an additional incentive to have more people immunized,” Fauci told MSNBC. “I believe that’s something that should be seriously explored if you want to do that with domestic flights.”
The Biden administration has so far refrained from requiring vaccinations for domestic flight travel. Biden’s science advisors, according to two sources, have yet to make a formal recommendation to the president on such a mandate.
Officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal discussions said requiring vaccines on aircraft would raise a slew of logistical and legal issues.
Most foreign people going to the United States are presently required to be completely vaccinated against the coronavirus, however citizens and permanent residents are merely need to produce documentation of a negative test done within one day of boarding.
Traveling by plane within the United States is not required by federal law to have a negative test. To escape a mandated quarantine, visitors to Hawaii must take a test or provide proof of immunization.
Biden did not react to inquiries about whether he was considering requiring vaccinations for domestic air travel, but he did tell reporters that the topic was discussed on a call with the nation’s governors on Monday morning.
Before leaving the White House for his home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, Biden said of the call, “They asked Dr. Fauci some additional questions about anything from whether or not he felt he was going to move to testing at home — I mean, on air trips and that kind of thing.”
The White House considered a domestic vaccine mandate for flights earlier this year, or one that required either immunization or confirmation of a negative test. Officials, on the other hand, have been hesitant to impose vaccine requirements for domestic air travel because they expect it to face rapid legal challenges, limiting its efficacy as a tool to increase vaccination rates.
“We know that masking can be, is, quite effective on aircraft,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said MSNBC this week when asked why Biden had not enforced vaccines for domestic flight travel.
“We also know that imposing that extra limitation might cause delays in flights and have other consequences,” she continued. “However, if the health consequences were severe, we would do it.” As a result, we always seek the counsel of our health and medical professionals. At this moment, they haven’t concluded that we need to take that step.”
More than 241 million Americans, or roughly 77 percent of the eligible population aged 5 and above, have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccination injection, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Officials suspect there is an over-count in the statistics owing to record-keeping issues during booster shot delivery.
The Biden administration has adopted different vaccine restrictions as a method to induce unvaccinated Americans to roll up their sleeves since the summer. It has made it mandatory for government employees, federal contractors, and health-care professionals to receive their immunizations, as well as for firms with 100 or more employees to demand vaccinations or testing for their personnel.
Those vaccine regulations have been entangled in legal battle, with the Supreme Court slated to hear arguments in lawsuits challenging them on Jan. 7.