Woman walking in an airport
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Do You Have to Be Vaccinated to Fly Within the U.S.?

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Dec. 28 2021, Published 1:52 p.m. ET

With the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus running rampant this holiday season, talk about mandating vaccines for domestic travel has resurfaced. Do you have to be vaccinated to fly within the U.S.?

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Not yet. COVID-19 vaccines aren’t mandated for domestic travel within the U.S. Still, it’s something that should be considered, says Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden.

“When you make vaccinations a requirement, that’s another incentive to get more people vaccinated,” Dr. Fauci said in an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “If you want to do that with domestic flights, I think that’s something that seriously should be considered.”

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international travelers
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International visitors must show proof of vaccination to travel to the U.S.

Currently, all international travelers flying to the U.S. have to show proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test before they even board the plane. But no such requirements exist for flying within the U.S.

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Although Dr. Fauci says that vaccinations for domestic travel are a good idea, he doesn’t see it happening in the foreseeable future.

“Right now, I don’t think people should expect that we’re going to have a requirement in domestic flights for people to be vaccinated,” he told CNN. “It’s on the table, and we consider it. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. I doubt if we’re going to see something like that in the reasonably foreseeable future.”

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Biden says vaccine mandates for travel are “not necessary.”

President Joe Biden told ABC’s David Muir that requiring domestic travelers to be vaccinated has “been considered.”

“But the recommendation I’ve gotten, it’s not necessary,” Biden told Muir.

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Omicron is now the dominant COVID variant in the U.S.

This holiday season has seen a surge in COVID cases in the U.S., most of which are the new highly infectious omicron variant. According to the CDC, the omicron variant now accounts for more than 73 percent of COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

Source: Richard Haass Twitter
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Flights have been canceled amid the omicron variant breakout.

Over the Christmas weekend, several airlines were forced to cancel flights due in part to COVID-19 outbreaks among airline staff, CNBC reports.

“Our current pilot Covid-19 case count is on the rise. Pilots who have developed symptoms are also in quarantine, and we have a high number of pilots on the sick list,” states a message to pilots by Bryan Quigley, United’s senior vice president of flight operations, reports CNBC.

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The travel industry is against requiring vaccines.

Dr. Fauci’s comments earlier this year in support of mandating vaccines for domestic travel weren’t well-received by the travel industry.

dr fauci
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“U.S. 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,” the U.S. Travel Association said in a Sept. 13 statement.

Requirements that all airline passengers wear masks during their flight provide adequate safety air travel, the association says.

“With the federal mask mandate for all forms of public transportation and U.S. airports extended through January 2022, proper tools are already in place to enable safe air travel for Americans,” the association said in the statement.

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