Anthony Fauci on Monday said Americans shouldn’t expect a Covid vaccination requirement for domestic air travel in the near future unless “things change dramatically.”
The comments come after the president’s chief medical adviser said earlier in the day that such a requirement should “seriously” be considered for travelers in the United States. Fauci said Monday evening that this should be another policy tool under consideration, but that he wasn’t suggesting it was likely to happen.
“Right now, I don’t think people should expect that we’re going to have a requirement in domestic flights for people to be vaccinated,” Fauci said on CNN Monday evening. “When I was asked that question, I gave an honest answer. It’s on the table, and we consider it. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. I doubt if we’re going to see something like that in the reasonably foreseeable future.”
The U.S. is averaging more than 200,000 cases a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the highest level since last winter’s surge. A vaccination mandate for domestic travel would be one of the most restrictive policies from the Biden administration, though the White House has so far been reluctant to impose such a rule, which a majority of the airline industry opposes due to logistical concerns.
“I don’t see this being announced or happening in the reasonable future unless things change dramatically,” Fauci reiterated in Monday’s interview with CNN’s Jim Acosta.
White House officials have frequently been asked whether the administration is considering proof of vaccination to fly within the country and typically brush off the questions, directing reporters to other mitigation strategies such as masks, vaccines and booster shots. Fauci dodged multiple questions on the matter in a White House press briefing earlier this month.
When pressed on if his position is indicative of a divide among administration officials, Fauci disagreed.
“No, let’s clarify that, Jim. I said that is something that’s open for consideration. It’s not a question of being in favor of it or not. I’m in favor of what we can do to keep the country safe. If a situation arises where that’s something we think should be important to do, we’ll do it,” Fauci said. “Right now, that’s not going to be done. But we never take anything off the table.”
Fauci’s Monday morning interview drew headlines similar to those in September, when news outlets reported his comments on domestic flight mandates in an interview with theSkimm.
“It’s on the table; we haven’t decided yet,” he said in an interview this fall. “But if the president said, ‘You know, let’s go ahead and do it,’ I would be supportive of it.”
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