US to Require Vaccination For Overseas Air Travelers – Reciprocal?; Could Suggest Same For US Flyers, Perhaps Even For Domestic Flights
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Requirement Of Vaccination For Travelling Overseas
WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 15, 2021) - The announcement that the U.S. will eliminate travel bans on visitors from foreign countries, but will require them to be vaccinated, suggests that vaccination may also soon be required of U.S. citizens who fly to or from the U.S., and possibly even on domestic flights, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf, whose earlier suggestions to President Joe Biden's Covid advisors are now in effect.
This is very likely to occur because proof of vaccination will soon be a de facto requirement for international flights as other countries respond, and Canada has already adopted such a requirement, says Banzhaf, who proposed this tactic to the President's COVID advisors weeks ago - along with suggestions for using his executive authority over grants, and to require vaccination of federal workers, both of which have now occurred.
Also, Senator Diane Feinstein has introduced "legislation requiring passengers on domestic flights to be vaccinated, test negative or be fully recovered from a previous COVID illness."
And, as a flight expert has noted, "If it were to become law it really would just be kind of adding restrictions in the U.S. that already exist elsewhere in the world and that have been working pretty well to contain COVID . . .I really don't see any way where it would be a big problem although passengers may be a little bit upset based on what we've seen in the past in the U.S."
Travelling In Case Of An Emergency
However, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy did not endorse the proposal now under active consideration by Biden's Covid advisors because of concerns for "people, for example, if they have to travel in the case of emergency to see a relative who got sick."
But Murthy may fail to appreciate that the same problem would occur if, in an "emergency," a flyer lost or misplaced his driver's license (including, soon, one with REAL-ID), and thus might not be able to board a flight to a foreign or even domestic destination.
Moreover, unlike with a driver's license, an unvaccinated person suddenly needing to fly in an emergency can probably receive at least one shot with a wait of no more than an hour or two.
If the emergency involved travel abroad (e.g., a sick relative in Europe), many Americans may not have an up-to-date passport, and in any event would have to very quickly arrange a COVID test in order to fly, says Banzhaf, noting that a vaccine mandate to fly might provide for exceptions for true emergency situations.
He also noes that if vaccinations were required to fly, it might be possible to no longer require masks; a burden now imposed on the majority of passengers who are vaccinated by the small minority of flyers who are not.