Fauci: “vaccine mandate for domestic air travel should be considered”

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Yuki Iwamura / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. currently mandates that most foreign nationals traveling to the U.S. be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, though citizens and permanent residents only need to show proof of a negative test taken within a day of boarding.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said Monday the nation should consider a vaccination mandate for domestic air travel, signaling a potential embrace of an idea the Biden administration has previously eschewed, as Covid-19 cases spike.

Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief science adviser on the pandemic response, said such a mandate might drive up the nation’s lagging vaccination rate as well as confer stronger protection on flights, for which federal regulations require all those age 2 and older to wear a mask.

“When you make vaccination a requirement, that’s another incentive to get more people vaccinated,” Fauci told MSNBC. “If you want to do that with domestic flights, I think that’s something that seriously should be considered.”

The Biden administration has thus far balked at imposing a vaccination requirement for domestic air travel. Two officials said Biden’s science advisers have yet to make a formal recommendation for such a requirement to the president.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said a vaccine mandate on planes could trigger a host of logistical and legal concerns.

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