Dr. Anthony Fauci has expressed his support for COVID-19 vaccination requirements for air travel – as the Biden administration did not rule it out.
“I would support that if you want to get on a plane and travel with other people that you should be vaccinated,” the White House chief medical adviser said in an interview with theSkimm podcast, The Hill reported.
On Friday, White House coronavirus response team coordinator Jeff Zients said the administration is “not taking any measures off the table” when asked if it had “ruled out” ever implementing vaccine or testing requirements for domestic flights.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said later in the day: “We are always looking at more we can do to protect and save lives. Obviously, he made a significant and bold announcement yesterday, so I don’t have anything to preview — predict or preview for you, but we’ll continue to look for ways to save more lives.”
She was referring to Biden’s announcement Thursday that businesses with 100 employees or more would have to require that staff either get jabbed or be tested weekly — or face heavy fines.
The president also directed the Transportation Security Administration to double fines levied against travelers who refuse to wear masks.
Meanwhile, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) announced Thursday that he would introduce legislation requiring travelers to present proof of vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours of boarding a domestic flight or traveling on Amtrak trains.
On Sunday, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy defended the Biden administration not requiring proof of vaccination for air travel, saying that unvaccinated people need to be able to fly during emergencies.
Murthy said on CNN that it was “reasonable” to consider implementing vaccine rules for travel but also necessary to take into account “equity concerns.”
“We know that when it comes to mandating vaccines for travel there are important issues around equity that would have to be worked out, to ensure that people, for example, if they have to travel in the case of emergency to see a relative who got sick, would be able to do that, even if you know they weren’t vaccinated,” he said.
Republicans have reacted angrily to the vaccine requirements, accusing the Biden administration of an unconstitutional overreach of power.
In the “Skimm This” podcast, which was taped Friday and is set to be released Thursday, Fauci also reiterated his support for student vaccine mandates, arguing that such an inoculation policy exists for other illnesses.
“When you hear us say should you mandate vaccination for children to be able to attend school, some people say, ‘Oh, my goodness. That would be terrible to do that.’ But we already do that and have been doing that for decades and decades,” the top infectious diseases doc said.
“I don’t know what school you went to, but the school that I went to, you had to be vaccinated for measles, mumps, rubella, polio, or otherwise you couldn’t go to school,” Fauci said as the highly infectious Delta variant continues to spread.