Biden is Wrong About a Vaccine Requirement For Air Travel; Reportedly Rejected Recommendations For Wrong and Inconsistent Reasons
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Vaccine Requirement For Airline Passengers
WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 9, 2021) – President Joe Biden has reportedly rejected a recommendation from some of this advisors that he require airline passengers to provide proof of vaccination, just as domestic travelers now must provide a photo ID (and soon a REAL-ID), and international flyers must also show a passport and in addition provide written proof of a negative COVID test 72 hours prior to boarding.
Apparently he feels that it would be too onerous, that most airline passengers are vaccinated already, and that the risks of catching COVID during a flight are small because of the airlines’ superior ventilation systems.
But, drawing upon his experience in slashing smoking by simply getting smoking banned during flights, public interest law professor John Banzhaf suggests that the primary reason for banning the unvaccinated from flying is to pressure them to get vaccinated, not to reduce transmission of the virus during flights.
Indeed, if transmission of COVID during flights were as small as Biden has apparently stated, he should remove the requirement that masks be worn, rather than continue to unnecessarily burden on the majority of flyers who are still being forced to wear masks.
Obviously, if the risk of transmission during flights is already low, as Biden apparently claims, it would be even much lower if all passengers were vaccinated, argues Banzhaf.
The Burden Of New COVID Test Before Each And Every Flights
For international travelers, the burden of getting vaccinated is much less than having to get a new COVID test 72 hours before each and every flights (2 for most round trips), and requiring some proof of vaccination doesn’t present a significant additional burden on the carriers.
Moreover, as Biden’s COVID advisors are well aware, proof of vaccination will soon be a de facto requirement for international flights, which now already require a current COVID test, and the same rationale suggests extending it to domestic flights also.
Such a move will create an additional nudge towards getting vaccinated, and may in fact permit the mask-wearing requirement during flights to be eliminated (much to the relief of the majority of flyers who are vaccinated).
It would clearly have a major impact on preventing unnecessary deaths and in slashing huge unnecessary medical care costs; including, for example, those under Medicare, Medicaid, and other government programs.
Finally, Canada has already taken this important step, thereby demonstrating that it is not unreasonable, and can be very useful as an important weapon against the spreading pandemic.
Awarding Of Federal Health Grants
Oddly, although Biden has been willing to mandate vaccinations, without exceptions, for many people over which he has direct control (including federal employees, members of the armed forces, and federal contractors), he has also not adopted a much less coercive suggestion that he use his unquestioned discretion regarding grants to simply encourage a large and important segment of society to become vaccinated.
Following on his use of executive authority over grants to incentivize nursing homes, Biden has been urged to announce that federal agencies awarding health related grants will give priority to applicants (e.g., cities, health and medical institutions, counties, universities, hospitals, nonprofits, etc.) which have a vaccine requirement for their staffs.
Banzhaf notes that the President can take this simple step without any congressional action or rulemaking delay, and that it would have a major impact on saving lives and tax dollars, as well as further encouraging workers already involved in health to be healthy themselves, and to slash the risk of transmission to those they serve.
Why, he asked, should taxpayer dollars be awarded to health organizations not willing to take this simple and proven step to save lives?
If the President were sincere in pledging to do everything in his power to save lives and taxpayer dollars, he would not reject out of hand these and other actions which have proven their effectiveness by persuading millions of people to do something much more difficult that getting vaccinated – breaking a strong addiction to the drug nicotine and quitting smoking, says Banzhaf, who got smoking restricting and then banned on airplanes, and helped lead the war on smoking.