Fauci Supports Vaccine Mandates for Air Travel

Carolyn Crist

September 14, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

Air travelers should get a COVID-19 vaccine to fly and be around other people, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview.

The Skimm posted a clip of the interview on social media on Sunday. Fauci spoke to the news site last week for a podcast, which airs in full on Thursday.

"I would support that if you want to get on a plane and travel with other people, that you should be vaccinated," Fauci said during the clip.

On Monday, Fauci told The Washington Post that he's supportive of a vaccine mandate for air travel but isn't proposing it as President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser.

"It's on the table. We haven't decided yet," he told the newspaper. "But if the president said, 'You know, let's go ahead and do it,' I would be supportive of it."

Fauci noted that Biden said last week that the Transportation Security Administration would double fines for those who refuse to wear masks in airports.

"So, he hasn't taken the step of mandating vaccines," Fauci said.

Some U.S. airlines, including United, Frontier and Hawaiian, have required employees to be fully vaccinated, the Post reported. Qantas, an Australian airline, is expected to become the first carrier to require vaccines for passengers flying overseas.

"Qantas will have a policy that internationally we will only be carrying vaccinated passengers," Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas Group, said during a meeting last week.

"Because we think that's going to be one of the requirements to show that you're flying safe and getting into those countries," he said. "We're hoping that can happen by Christmas."

Other types of domestic and international transportation have taken steps toward vaccine requirements. Most cruise lines have policies that require shots for crew and most passengers, the Post reported.

In addition, Virginia Rep. Don Beyer introduced a bill last week that would require Amtrack passengers and domestic air travelers to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. But airline executives have said that domestic mandates would be impractical and cause major flight delays, the newspaper reported.

To get the pandemic under control, Fauci said earlier this week, the U.S. will need "many, many more" vaccine mandates. About 75 million Americans who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine haven't yet gotten a shot, he noted.

"We're making headway, but not at the rate that I would like to see it," Fauci told the Post on Monday. "I would like to see us enter into the fall and the winter with the overwhelming majority of those 75 million people vaccinated."

Sources

Twitter: @theskimm, September 12, 2021

The Washington Post: "Fauci says he supports vaccine mandates for air travel. Will it actually fly?"

News.com.au: "Qantas confirms the airline will ban unvaccinated passengers on international flights."

WebMD: "Fauci: 'Many, Many' More Vaccine Mandates Needed to End Pandemic."

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