You’re reading the Opposing View, one of two perspectives in Today’s Debate.
For Our View, read Biden should require airline passengers to show proof of vaccination.
As Americans and the airlines that serve them plan for the holiday travel season, we can hold confidence in knowing the air travel system today has been proven effectively safe from COVID-19 transmission.
The data, including independent studies from the Harvard School of Public Health and the U.S. Department of Defense, overwhelmingly points to the safety of air travel as long as face masks are worn. Both studies found the use of advanced air filtration systems on aircraft makes the risk of masked passengers contracting an airborne virus such as SARS-CoV-2 extremely unlikely.
Even without a vaccine mandate, American air travelers have vaccination rates greater than the general public. While 57% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, 71% of Americans who have traveled in the past two years are vaccinated.
The Harvard study also found that the risk of transmission on planes is lower than other common settings such as grocery stores. So why the disparate focus on air travel mandates when so many routine activities nationwide do not require vaccination?
The health protections on U.S. airlines – such as hospital-grade filtration systems combined with the extension of the federal mask requirement for U.S. transportation networks, including onboard aircraft and inside airports to early next year – enable safe travel on domestic flights.
A new vaccine requirement, ahead of the traditionally busiest air travel season of the year, would create a logistical dilemma, long lines and added strain for airline and airport workers and the passengers they serve. Such a measure also would disproportionately hurt families with children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.
The U.S. travel industry has followed the science since the pandemic’s onset, strongly advocating for masking and widespread vaccination. Validating vaccines for approximately 2 million air passengers every day would add a hurdle to an already safe air system.
We must continue to make sound decisions based on science – in the case of a potential domestic air travel vaccine mandate, the data does not support it.
Roger Dow is president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID vaccine mandate for flyers unnecessary: U.S. Travel Association