Domestic Flyers Might Have to Show Proof of Immunity if the Senate Bill Passes

October 4, 2021
how domestic flights will look like if senate bill passes

If the senate bill passes, people flying domestically in the USA might soon have to show they are probably not infected with coronavirus.

The US Air Travel Public Safety Act that California Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced will require all travelers in the US to be either fully inoculated, fully recovered from Covid-19, or test negative before boarding a plane headed to a domestic destination.

Feinstein said in a news release on Wednesday, “We know that air travel during the 2020 holiday season contributed to last winter’s devastating Covid-19 surge. We simply cannot allow that to happen again.”

While it’s common to get tested or present a vaccine certificate to board an international flight, domestic US air passengers don’t yet have to get checked on the same level.

The bill is based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s current air travel requirement, which asks people coming to the US from abroad to present a recovery certificate or a negative Covid-19 test result.

According to the release, both the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Public Health Association approve of the additional requirements for domestic flights.

Barbara Alexander, the president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and professor of medicine and pathology at Duke University School of Medicine, said in the release, “Vaccination is a critical strategy to end the Covid-19 pandemic, and vaccination requirements in multiple settings are an important mechanism to boost vaccination rates, prevent infections and hospitalizations, and save lives.”

Several health experts also support vaccine mandates on flights. In an interview with The Skimm, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser and the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said in September that flight passengers should be subject to a vaccine mandate too to fly.

Asked about travel restrictions in a coronavirus briefing last month, Jeff Zients, the White House Covid-19 response team coordinator, said nothing was off the table. He mentioned the government’s move to double the fines for passengers refusing to comply with the federal mask mandate on planes and other public transportation.

However, airlines are worrying the vaccination mandates may pose logistical problems, such as working out whether the vaccination status of millions of passengers is valid or not. “It will bottleneck the domestic travel system,” said Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian in an interview with CBS This Morning in late August.

On September 13th, the US Travel Association that drums up business for trips to the States published a statement against vaccine mandates for domestic flights.

Tori Emerson Barnes, the group’s executive president, said in a statement, “US travel has long maintained that there should be no mandatory vaccination requirement for domestic travel. Such a policy would have an unfair, negative impact on families with young children who are not yet eligible to get the vaccine.”

If given the green light, the bill would let the Secretary of Health and Human Services introduce national Covid-19 vaccination standards and procedures for domestic air travel to avoid future spikes of coronavirus infections. Also, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices could make recommendations regarding vaccine use in health care environments.

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