Pfizer Approval May Trigger Vaccine Requirement, Like Canada’s, For Flyers; Plane of Fully Vaccinated Passengers Would Probably Not Have to Wear Masks
In August, Mohnish Pabrai took part in Brown University's Value Investing Speaker Series, answering a series of questions from students. Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more One of the topics he covered was the issue of finding cheap equities, a process the value investor has plenty of experience with. Cheap Stocks In the Read More
Approval Of Pfizer's Vaccine
WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 24, 2021) - The FDA's full approval of Pfizer's vaccine against COVID is already persuading many companies to require that their employees be vaccinated, and for the armed forced to require its members to do the same, but its biggest impact may be to make it possible for and encourage the federal government to require even domestic airline passengers to have received at least one shot as a condition of flying.
That, at least, is a recommendation which President Joe Biden's COVID advisors are considering, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who previously has reported when the federal government was considering requiring its employees to be vaccinated, and that Biden was weighing using his executive power over grants (e.g. to nursing homes) to reduce unnecessary deaths, hospitalizations, and lingering disabilities from COVID.
In mandating that nursing homes have their staffs vaccinated or risk a funding cutoff, and by instituting vaccine requirements on federal workers, federal onsite contractors, and members of the armed forces, Biden is using executive authority which requires no action by Congress, and is largely immune from legal attacks, because importuning by spokespersons and often confusing guidelines has simply not be effective, says the professor, who notes that the President also has executive authority over conditions for airline travel.
Since it has been announced that the White House is planning to mandate that foreign nationals be vaccinated to enter the U.S. once international travel restrictions are lifted, Biden can and should apply the same rule to returning U.S. citizens, and perhaps to domestic flights also, suggests the professor. Here's why.
Even if the U.S. does not require vaccinations for its own returning citizens, the major countries to which Americans will be traveling will almost certainly adopt the same vaccination requirement for their arrival, so anyone who wants to fly internationally will soon have to provide proof of vaccination. The same argument, and reasons for such a requirement on international flights, should logically also apply to airline flights within the U.S.
Limiting Travel To Vaccinated People
Limiting flights to adults as well as to older children who have been vaccinated, as well as to younger children and those exempted from the requirement for medical or religious reasons, would reduce the transmission of the rapidly spreading delta variant, as well as other variants which may develop, and also provide a very strong incentive for holdouts to become vaccinated. Both effects would help prevent thousands of needless deaths, and many more very expensive hospitalizations, at a time when both are soaring.
If flights were largely limited only to those who have been vaccinated, it would probably also be possible to phase out the mask requirement during flights, especially given the ventilation and filtration systems on modern passenger aircraft.
As more and more people are beginning to appreciate, it is very unfair to continue to burden the majority of adults who have wisely agreed to be vaccinated - in this situation by requiring them to wear masks for hours while flying - because of the minority which refuse to agree to this common sense precaution.
While now we may have only an "epidemic of the unvaccinated," on airlines passengers who are vaccinated are still being burdened for the stubbornness of the holdouts.
Note that international airline travelers are already required to undergo expensive and inconvenient tests for COVID just before both arrival and departure, and to present documented proof of such tests before boarding. So requiring documented proof regarding vaccination is not unreasonable, nor unreasonably burdensome on passengers or carriers.
As another example, even for domestic flights, flyers will soon have to go through the difficult and time-consuming process of obtaining a REAL-ID driver's license - even though the few American lives likely to be saved from terrorist attacks by this burdensome requirement are minimal given existing TSA measures. And those who wish to travel abroad have for a long time also had to endure the many problems of obtaining (and sometimes even of renewing) a U.S. passport.
Compared to these burdens to which the federal government already subjects all those who wish to fly (as well as the vaccination requirement on federal workers, onsite government contractors, active duty military, and nursing home workers) - not to mention the delays, hassles, inconvenience, and invasions of privacy from TSA check points - the burden of having to obtain a free and usually-no-waiting-time COVID vaccination in order to fly would be minor, and certainly not unreasonable.
Proof Of Vaccination
The federal government, and an ever growing number of employers, colleges, and places of public accommodation are already requiring people to prove that they have been vaccinated, so it's not as if this is a novel or unreasonable requirement, especially given the new wave of totally unnecessary COVID deaths and hospitalizations, and the growing impact of the escalating pandemic on innocent your children.
Closer to home and more to the point, Canada has already announced that it will require all domestic air passengers to be fully vaccinated by fall, and an August Harris Poll reported that almost two-thirds (64%) of Americans favor requiring domestic airline passengers to be vaccinated, with those who “strongly support” such the plan outnumbering those who “somewhat support” it by more than two to one.
In addition, a travel site survey suggests that an airline vaccine mandate would motivate a significant share of unvaccinated Americans to get a COVID shot.
Moreover, since trying to further refine or clarify the government's messaging on COVID seems to be about as ineffective as the government's messaging during the last century urging people not to smoke, we should now do what finally turned the tide and helped prevent millions of unnecessary smoker deaths by persuading tens of millions of Americans to protect their own health - by adopting restrictions aboard aircraft, and by permitting if not encouraging employers to insist upon vaccinations as a condition of employment.