Fauci says a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for air travel hasn’t been ‘taken off the table’

TSA agent flying during covid air travel
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday US officials could issue a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for commercial flights.
  • “The team has a lot of things on the table. Nothing has been taken off the table,” he said on “Meet the Press.”
  • The Biden administration earlier this month announced increased fines for passengers who refuse to wear face masks on flights.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

US officials have not ruled out a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for air travelers, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday.

Fauci made the comments during an appearance Sunday on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” after moderator Chuck Todd asked him about his support for mandates for travel.

“The team has a lot of things on the table. Nothing has been taken off the table,” Fauci, the chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden said. “That decision has not been made.”

“We have not yet gotten to the point of requiring vaccinations on domestic flights, but everything is on the table,” he added Sunday. “We consider these things literally on a daily basis. So suffice it to say, it’s still on the table right now.”

Fauci’s comments Sunday echo remarks he made last week. In a podcast interview with The Skimm, Fauci said he supported such proposals.

“I would support that if you want to get on a plane and travel with other people then you should be vaccinated,” he said.

While vaccines have not so far been required to fly in the US, airlines have required the wearing of facial coverings on commercial flights since the coronavirus pandemic began last year. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an order in February requiring the wearing of face masks on all public transportation, including on commercial flights.

The Biden administration earlier in September announced it planned to double the fine for passengers who refused to wear face coverings while flying. The change came as part of the White House COVID-19 action plan, as Insider previously reported.

Passengers who refuse to comply with the mask-wearing policies previously faced fines starting at $US250 ($AU344) and up to $US1,500 ($AU2,064). The guidelines released earlier this month raised the minimum fine to $US500 ($AU688) and the maximum fine to $US3000 ($AU4,129).

“You know, the president made the decision when it comes to flying, if, if a person does not want to wear a mask or doesn’t wear a mask, they double the fining on that,” Fauci said Sunday.

Fauci’s comments Sunday come as more travelers return to the skies even as new cases tick up fueled by the highly-transmissible Delta variant, bringing air travel closer to pre-pandemic levels. The Transportation Security Administration screened nearly 1.5 million passengers on Saturday – more than double the passengers it screened on the same day last year, according to TSA data.