“On the table is the issue of mandates for vaccine,” said Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser. “It’s always discussable, we always wind up discussing it, but right now I don’t see that immediately.”
Late last month, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced a bill that would make vaccination, a negative coronavirus test or proof of recent recovery from the virus mandatory to fly domestically. Earlier in the month, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) proposed legislation to require proof of vaccination or a negative test for domestic air or Amtrak travelers.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told The Washington Post last month that he would support a vaccine mandate for domestic flights if Biden wanted to move forward with one.
During the interview Sunday, he declined to weigh in on whether he supported a mandate, saying he did not want his comments to be taken out of context.
“We have everything on the table, and it will be discussed by the medical group,” he said.
Vaccine requirements have become more widespread for travel, even without a domestic mandate. Starting at a still-undisclosed date in November, international visitors will have to show proof of vaccination and a negative test to enter the country.
Almost all U.S. airlines are requiring their employees to be fully vaccinated to keep their jobs. And Canada will require travelers ages 12 and older who are departing from airports in the country to be vaccinated as of Oct. 30.
Last month, former secretary of transportation Ray LaHood told Politico that the White House should either urge airlines to require vaccines for domestic travelers or put its own mandate in place.
Some public health experts have also voiced support. In a Twitter thread earlier this month, Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, described a five-hour flight he took while sitting next to an unvaccinated woman whose mask kept falling below her nose.
“Planes have great ventilation which prevents them from being super spreaders,” he wrote on Twitter. “But as people tire of masks and planes get packed, keeping flying safe will be harder. A vaccine mandate or a negative test can help a lot.”
During the interview Sunday, Fauci said case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths are all moving in the right direction. But, he said, more than 68 million people who are eligible have not been vaccinated and cautioned against declaring victory against the coronavirus too early.
“You want to look forward to holiday seasons and spending time with your family and doing those sorts of things,” he said. “But don’t just throw your hands up and say it’s all over.”