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The U.S. should consider a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for domestic air travel as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly across the country, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Monday.
The Omicron variant is highly contagious and should not “be taken lightly,” he said, encouraging people to get vaccinated and get boosted for the highest level of protection.
“When you make vaccination a requirement, that’s another incentive to get more people vaccinated,” Fauci said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe .
“If you want to do that with domestic flights, I think that’s something that seriously should be considered,” he said.
But the Biden administration hasn’t said that a vaccine mandate for domestic flights will happen anytime soon, according to CNBC. When asked for a comment, the White House referred the news outlet to President Joe Biden’s statement on ABC News last week.
“It’s been considered,” Biden told ABC News before Christmas. “But the recommendation I’ve gotten, it’s not necessary.”
Later Monday, Fauci also said he didn’t think a vaccine requirement would be imposed soon.
“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,” he told CNN.
“When I was asked that question, I gave an honest answer,” he continued. “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.”
International travelers must show proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a U.S.-bound flight, and they must wear a mask. On domestic flights, U.S. passengers must wear masks in airports and on planes and keep them on during the flight.
MSNBC Morning Joe: “Dr. Fauci: Omicron is not something to be taken lightly.”
CNBC: “Fauci says U.S. should consider vaccine mandate for domestic air travel, but doesn’t expect it for now.”
ABC News: “President Biden to ABC’s David Muir on at-home COVID testing: ‘Nothing’s been good enough.'”
CNN: “Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees, Dec. 27, 2021.”