The nation’s top infectious disease expert says the U.S. should consider a vaccine mandate to board domestic flights as the omicron variant rapidly spreads.
NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday that he believes the U.S. should “seriously” consider it as a way to drive vaccination.
“When you make vaccination a requirement, that’s another incentive to get more people vaccinated,” Fauci said. “If you want to do that with domestic flights, I think that’s something that seriously should be considered.”
“If you’re making a requirement for vaccination for people to get on planes who are coming into the country, that’s understandable. You don’t want to bring more cases into the country. But if you’re talking about requiring vaccination to get on a plane domestically, that is just another one of the requirements that I think is reasonable to consider.”
The U.S., through the entire pandemic, has not had any restrictions on domestic travel, but does require non-citizens entering the country to prove vaccination.
The U.S. also requires citizens re-entering the country to test negative for the virus within 24 hours of a flight, regardless of vaccination status.
Last week, the U.S. lifted travel restrictions on eight southern African countries that it imposed to try to blunt the spread of the COVID omicron variant. The Nov. 29 ban barred nearly all non-U.S. citizens who had recently been in South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Namibia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The restrictions will be lifted on New Year’s Eve.