Vaccinating domestic travelers against diseases like Covid-19 should be considered by the federal government, a top infectious disease expert said Monday.
In an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Dr. Anthony Fauci said making vaccinations mandatory is an incentive to get more people vaccinated. "If you do that with domestic flights, that should seriously be considered."
There are no indications at this time that a mandatory vaccine requirement would be imposed on U.S. flights. Asked on MSNBC whether he had recommended the policy change to President Biden, Fauci declined to answer.
Biden told ABC News last week that the matter has been considered, "but based on recommendations I've received, it's not necessary." The White House declined to comment further.
In September, when Fauci made a similar suggestion, the travel industry opposed a vaccine mandate.
Americans are already required to wear masks on planes before boarding and to keep them on throughout the flight, unless they eat or drink.
Travelers from outside the U.S. must prove they have been vaccinated and have passed a Covid test before traveling to the United States, as well as wearing a mask.
As a result of outbreaks among airline staff, over 2,000 flights have been canceled since Friday due to the rapid spread of the omicron coronavirus across the United States.
The majority of new infections are caused by omicron, at 73% of new cases as of last Monday. In one week since the pandemic began, more coronavirus cases have been reported in a handful of states, including New Jersey and New York.
Approximately 77% of the eligible population over 5 years of age has received a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite this, officials believe there is an overcount due to errors made when administering booster shots.
As part of its effort to get unvaccinated Americans to roll up their sleeves, the Biden administration has adopted several vaccination requirements since the summer. Employers with 100 or more employees are required to require workers to receive vaccinations and to submit to examinations. The federal government mandates vaccinations for workers, contractors and health care workers.
It will be argued before the Supreme Court on Jan. 7 whether to overturn those vaccination requirements.
The City of New York, among a few other cities in the U.S., requires vaccination proof for entry into indoor venues such as Broadway theaters, sports arenas, restaurants and fitness centers.