Dr. Fauci clarifies previous comment regarding airline vaccine mandates

·3 min read

On CNN’s The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer Monday, fill-in host Jim Acosta caught up with Dr. Anthony Fauci, one day after the White House’s chief medical advisor turned some heads with his comments on vaccine mandates for air travel during an appearance on ABC News’ This Week.

When asked by Jonathan Karl if he agreed with President Biden that there shouldn’t be a vaccine requirement for domestic air travel, Fauci didn't seem in total agreement.

“Well, it depends on what you want to use it for,” Fauci said. “A vaccine requirement for a person getting on the plane is just another level of getting people to have a mechanism that would spur them to get vaccinated; namely, you can’t get on a plane unless you’re vaccinated, which is just another one of the ways of getting requirements, whatever that might be. So I mean, anything that could get people more vaccinated would be welcome.”

On CNN Monday, Fauci had a chance to elaborate further when Acosta asked him about those and similar comments he has made recently on the subject.

“What I said, Jim, was that everything that comes up as a possibility, we put it on the table and we consider it. That does not mean that it is going to be likely to happen,” Fauci said. “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. When I was asked that question, I gave an honest answer. It’s on the table, and we consider it, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.”

Fauci went on to say that things would have to change dramatically for vaccine mandates to be seriously considered for domestic air travel. But when he was pressed further about how his stance on the issue compares to others in the White House, Fauci said it’s not about having a stance.

“Let's clarify that, Jim. I said that is something that’s open for consideration. It’s not a question of being in favor of it or not. I’m in favor of what we can do to keep the country safe,” Fauci said. “If the situation arises where that’s something we think should be important to do, we’ll do it. Right now, that’s not going to be done. But we never take anything off the table. We always keep things open for consideration.”

At a time when flights are being canceled or delayed in record numbers over the holidays, potential vaccine mandates for domestic air travel has been a hot topic. And on CNN Tonight later in the evening, Assn. of Flight Attendants President Sara Nelson said her union was open to the idea, with certain exceptions.

“It has been difficult because we have not tracked vaccinations in this country so it would be a hard logistical thing to implement, and we don't want to have it solely rest on the airlines or the front line workers to make it work,” Nelson said. “But I am more committed than ever to work with this government to find the logistical means in order to put that in place, because this is a safety issue in our workplace.”

The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer airs weeknights at 6 p.m. on CNN.

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