U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) recently introduced the U.S. Air Travel Public Safety Act, a bill that would require all passengers on domestic airline flights to either be fully vaccinated, have recently tested negative for COVID-19 or have fully recovered from COVID-19.
The bill would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Federal Aviation Administration, to develop national vaccination standards and procedures related to COVID-19 and domestic air travel in order to prevent future outbreaks of the disease.
It would also require the Center for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to make recommendations for COVID-19 vaccine use in health care settings and among health care personnel in other settings.
The legislation builds on a current CDC requirement that all air passengers traveling to the United States from a foreign country must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19. Last week, the Joe Biden administration announced it will work with airlines to implement additional protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on international flights.
“We know that air travel during the 2020 holiday season contributed to last winter’s devastating COVID-19 surge,” Feinstein said. “We simply cannot allow that to happen again. Ensuring that air travelers protect themselves and their destination communities from this disease is critical to prevent the next surge, particularly if we confront new, more virulent variants of COVID-19. This bill complements similar travel requirements already in place for all air passengers – including Americans – who fly to the United States from foreign countries. This includes flights from foreign countries with lower COVID-19 rates than many U.S. states. It only makes sense that we also ensure the millions of airline passengers that crisscross our country aren’t contributing to further transmission, especially as young children remain ineligible to be vaccinated.”
The bill is supported by the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Public Health Association.
“Vaccination is a critical strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic, and vaccination requirements in multiple settings are an important mechanism to boost vaccination rates, prevent infections and hospitalizations and save lives,” said Dr. Barbara D. Alexander, president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and professor of medicine and pathology at Duke University School of Medicine.
According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 vaccines continued to offer strong protection after the Delta variant became predominant over the summer. People who were fully vaccinated were five times less likely to be infected and more than 10 times less likely to be admitted to the hospital or die compared to those who were unvaccinated.