On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the president, appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Dana Bash. During the segment, Bash asked Fauci about the possibility of a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for domestic air travel.
“So, you mentioned the holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s hard to believe it; they are just around the corner,” Bash began. “Canada just imposed a vaccine mandate for eligible travelers on airplanes. Former President Obama’s Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood says that the White House should push airlines to mandate vaccines or mandate them itself. So, would you like a vaccine mandate for air travel in effect for the holidays?”
After noting that non-citizens entering the U.S. from other countries should be vaccinated and tested, and also praising President Biden’s doubling of fines for unmasked airplane travelers, Fauci replied.
“On the table is the issue of mandates for vaccine. It’s always discussable. We always wind up discussing it,” he stated.
Bash then asked Fauci if he “supported” such a mandate, to which Fauci responded: “Right now, I don’t see that immediately.”
Dana, I don’t want to say support or not. I think it’s a decision that’s made by input from a number of parts of the government, including public health. I mean, obviously, from a public health standpoint, the more protection you get, the better it is. But I don’t want to be weighing in because we wind up then having people taking things out of context.
“We have everything on the table, and it will be discussed by the medical group,” Fauci concluded.
“Hopefully it’s going to continue to go in that trajectory downward, but we have to just be careful that we don’t prematurely declare victory in many respects,” Dr. Anthony Fauci discusses the dip in daily Covid-19 cases. #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/nVB3Ztl8zt
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) October 10, 2021
Discussions regarding vaccine mandates for air travel have been ongoing. In late September, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced legislation that would mandate vaccines for some domestic flyers.
The U.S. Air Travel Public Safety Act “would require all passengers on domestic airline flights to either be fully vaccinated, have recently tested negative for COVID-19, or have fully recovered from COVID-19.”
According to a press release from Feinstein, the legislation would act as a kind of extension of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) current regulations guiding international travel into the United States.
“Ensuring that air travelers protect themselves and their destination communities from this disease is critical to prevent the next surge, particularly if we confront new, more virulent variants of COVID-19,” reads a statement from Feinstein, which later adds: “It only makes sense that we also ensure the millions of airline passengers that crisscross our country aren’t contributing to further transmission, especially as young children remain ineligible to be vaccinated.”
An August poll from Gallup showed that a majority of Americans actually favor vaccine requirements for domestic flights.
The survey asked: “Would you favor or oppose businesses requiring people to show proof of coronavirus/COVID-19 vaccination in order to do the following over the next several months?”
61% of respondents said they favor such a requirement, while 39% said they do not. Broken down by political affiliation, the results are more stark — 92% of Democrats support a vaccine requirement, but only 29% of Republicans agree. Independents are split 50/50.