Let me preface this article with the obvious fact that I’m not an epidemiologist, nor am I any kind of doctor, for that matter. But I do know a lot about travel and the effects of the virus.
Lately, like in the last few hours, there has been a lot of talk about COVID vaccine mandates for domestic travel. On MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert and one of the president’s top advisors, said: “When you make vaccinations a requirement, that’s another incentive to get more people vaccinated.” He also said: “If you want to do that with domestic flights, I think that’s something that seriously should be considered.”
There’s no doubt that Covid-19 is still running rampant. It seems like everyone is testing positive for Covid these days, from airline crew to professional athletes, and perhaps most importantly, our frontline health care workers. Almost everyone I know has an immediate family member or a close friend who is sick with Covid. I just found out that at least five of my neighbors from three different households have it.
Omicron is everywhere and is now severely impacting travel, along with bad weather, as hundreds of flights have been cancelled and delayed because crew members are out sick. You can check the stats on FlightAware.com.
There’s also been a huge decline in the number of passengers passing through U.S. security checkpoints. TSA officers screened 1,533,398 people on December 25. Two years ago (pre-pandemic) on the same day, that number was 2,470,786. It’s still an improvement over 2020, when only 1,128,773 people passed through.
Back to Dr. Fauci’s comment about mandating vaccines for domestic travel. The reason I don’t think mandatory vaccine mandates will work is twofold:
1. People will forge CDC cards, as it’s easy to do.
2. More importantly, vaccinated people can still be infected and be contagious. That’s why I think that instead of requiring everyone to be vaccinated, they should require everyone to be tested before getting on a plane. I think this has to happen at the airport and not within the last 24 hours. This is the only true way we will be able to keep everyone virus-free.
This way, we can all stop worrying about those who are faking vaccination and more importantly, prevent those who are sick from traveling around and spreading germs. Sadly, many people get diagnosed with COVID and don’t quarantine. They just go on with their lives since they don’t want to be bothered and aren’t concerned about protecting those around them, especially the vulnerable.
I know that testing everyone just before boarding would be a logistical nightmare, not to mention time-consuming but hopefully over time, rapid testing will improve and make this possibility a reality.
But until that happens, then perhaps vaccine mandates are the answer. Sir Richard Branson just penned a blog titled, “Vaccines, not lockdowns, are route to recovery.” He wrote: “Widespread and equitable vaccinations against COVID-19, coupled with sensible day-to-day practices, like indoor mask mandates and proof of vaccination, remain the best ways to global recovery – not more damaging lockdowns, expensive testing and travel bans. There must be a proportionate response that balances the obvious risks of COVID with the mental health and economic risks of stopping people living their lives.”
He’s probably right. Canada is already following this protocol and they’re not having the huge problem of canceled and delayed flights like we are. Listen, I’m fully vaccinated and boosted and so is everyone who is eligible in my family. I’m a team player and want to do whatever is right. I’m all for requiring a federal vaccine mandate but will it work?
The Airlines would need another bailout if they required testing for domestic flights. This country needs to understand that it does not matter at all if someone “gets COVID” like you described your friends having if they are vaccinated. Getting a mild or asymptomatic case of COVID is absolutely meaningless. Its a cold. We need to move on as a country and learn to accept that people will get colds. Its a fact of life.