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Las Vegas flyers react to potential vaccine mandate for domestic flights

Anthony Fauci
Posted at 9:07 PM, Dec 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-28 02:18:05-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A federal vaccine mandate for all domestic flights inside of the U.S. is "on the table," according to the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, as coronavirus cases rise rapidly during the busy holiday travel season driven by the highly infectious omicron variant.

At Harry Reid International Airport, Las Vegas musician Jimmy Hopper said travel is essential to his business and social life.

Hopper said he's fully vaccinated and encouraging others to do the same, but was opposed to the idea of mandating that everyone be vaccinated as a condition of getting onto a plane inside the country.

"I want to be safe," he said, "and I think everybody does, but there's a difference. It's leading somewhere else. It's not just the mandate, it's moving on to something else, and I don't want to use the word communism — oh, I just said that."

Hopper said he doesn't like people telling him what to do.

Biologist Kevin Mejia, on the other hand, said a vaccine mandate goes beyond people thinking about themselves.

"People should be willing to do what's right for the entire country and for others and not be thinking about themselves all the time," Mejia said.

Cort Lohff, chief medical officer with the Southern Nevada Health District, said it was too early to determine how a vaccine mandate for domestic flights would impact the spread of the coronavirus, but said it was clear that vaccines would be the clear way to diminish serious illness, even as omicron evades vaccine infection protection.

MORE: What makes omicron different from past COVID-19 strains?

"The bottom line here is the more people that do get vaccinated completely — meaning they get their primary vaccine as well as their booster — the more we're going to be able to prevent serious illness and hospitalization as well as transmission of the virus," Lohff said.

Several major airlines didn't respond to requests for comment on the impact a vaccine mandate would have on air travel.

Southwest, Allegiant, United, and American Airlines deferred comment to Airlines for America, which responded to 13 Action News' questions with the following statement:

Since the outset, U.S. airlines have leaned into science to prioritize the wellbeing of the traveling public, and we are encouraged that vaccinations are now providing an additional layer of protection for travelers. We have been informed by the Administration that there is no imminent policy proposal regarding a domestic travel requirement and echo concerns expressed by the Administration about the implementation and enforcement of such a policy.
Airlines for America

Las Vegas airport officials said it was too early to determine how a vaccine mandate would be enforced or affect airport operations, as neither the Biden administration nor Fauci have revealed details about how a domestic mandate might work.