A Requirement Would Be “Reasonable To Consider” Says Top Medical Advisor
Anthony Fauci, the President’s Chief Medical Advisor, has suggested his support for possible vaccination requirements for domestic air travel.
Fauci made the statements will speaking to MSNBC. It should be noted that as of now, there are no vaccination requirements for domestic travel, and his statements in no way suggested that new requirements were coming.
As the US and the rest of the world struggles to contain outbreaks of the new fast spreading variant, named Omicron, Fauci stated it would be “reasonable to consider” a vaccine requirement for domestic travel as well as international.
The Omicron variant has caused chaos this week, leaving thousands of flights canceled over the Christmas break. Flight crew numbers are being decimated by the mutated COVID-19 virus. Although the severity of the infection appears to be less than previous iterations, the infection rate is incredibly high, prompting concerns over hospital overloads.
Studies estimate that the Omicron variant could be as much as three times more transmissible than the Delta strain, and, regardless of high end air filters on planes, passengers are at a much higher risk of contracting the virus. The Omicron strain currently takes up 70% of the countries new infections – a worrying number considering the estimated 109 million travelers crossing the country this Christmas and New Year.
Fauci’s statements suggest using the vaccination requirement as more of an incentive than a directly protective measure for the airline industry. In another interview, he said When you make vaccination a requirement, that’s another incentive to get more people vaccinated. If you want to do that with domestic flights, I think that’s something that seriously should be considered.”
As of December 2nd, President Biden had stated that he would not be implementing any domestic vaccination policies on travel, but the swift spread and shifting suggestions from his medical, advisor could spell a chance in the future.
Several cities have already implemented their own vaccine restrictions. Boston, Washington, D.C, and New York City all now require proof of vaccination to eat at indoor restaurants, visit museums, go to the movie theatre, and work out in gyms.
Other countries, like Austria, have gone much further in their pushes, and have now made it a rule that all citizens must be fully vaccinated by a certain date. Austria requires a full dose by February or citizens will face the risk of a fine. It is unlikely the US would adopt such policies, but specialized mandates may help push skeptical citizens to getting the vaccine. Fauci compared a mandate on domestic flights to similar mandates in workplaces and other other institutions.
Fauci also doubled down on mask usage on planes, stressing the continued use of the divisive protection shouldn’t be up for debate. In the past weeks, several airline CEO’s have publicly questioned the efficacy of masks, although they have quickly backtracked either directly or on social media.
Concerns about the technicalities of a vaccine requirement were raised by journalists questioning the White House Press secretary, Jen Psaki. She admitted that the implementation fo such policies could cause flight delays, but would be willing to commit to it “the health impact was overwhelming”.
Fauci declined to confirm if he was officially recommending the restrictions to the Oval Office to avoid any potential image of discord between the POTUS and his advisers.
Travelers are strongly advised to keep abreast of any changes in restrictions over the coming weeks and to anticipate travel disruption.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories