Fauci says U.S. should consider vaccine mandate for domestic air travel

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a news conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021.

Jim Lo Scalzo | EPA | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The federal government should consider requiring Covid-19 vaccines for domestic flights, the nation’s top infectious disease expert said Monday.

“When you make vaccinations a requirement, that’s another incentive to get more people vaccinated,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “If you want to do that with domestic flights, I think that’s something that seriously should be considered.”

There is no indication at this point that a vaccine mandate is on its way for U.S. flights. When asked on MSNBC, Fauci, White House chief medical advisor, declined to say whether he has made the recommendation to President Joe Biden.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Already, U.S. passengers must wear masks to board planes and keep them on for the duration of the flight except when eating or drinking.

International travelers must also show proof of vaccination and a negative Covid test in order to board a U.S.-bound flight, and also wear a mask.

With the omicron variant of the coronavirus spreading rapidly across the U.S., airlines have canceled more than 2,000 flights since Friday, due partly to outbreaks among staff.

Across the country, omicron accounts for the majority of new infections, at 73% of fresh cases as of last Monday. The highly infectious variant has caused a handful of states, including New Jersey and New York, to report more coronavirus cases than in any other seven-day period since the start of the pandemic.

A handful of cities in the U.S., including New York City, require proof of vaccination to attend in-door venues such as Broadway theaters, sports arenas, restaurants and fitness centers.

CNBC Health & Science