If you haven’t had the chance to get a COVID-19 vaccine yet, here’s a pretty good reason to schedule your first dose. On Friday, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients hinted that the jab might soon be mandatory for folks looking to take domestic air travel in the U.S.
When asked at a press briefing whether the Biden administration’s vaccine or testing mandates might soon be mandatory for domestic flights, Zients told reporters that the measure might very well be part of the “further action” the White House has planned for the country’s coronavirus response.
“Overall, I think we have a very strong track record that shows we’re pulling available levers to acquire vaccinations and we’re not taking any measures off the table,” Zients said.
These comments seem to fall in line with the tougher tactics the White House is taking against the vaccine-hesitant masses grouped across the country. On Thursday, Joe Biden announced a six-pronged plan meant to curb the pandemic’s resurgence across the country—and a large part of that plan included vaccine mandates.
Under these new proposals, coronavirus vaccines will be mandatory for the vast majority of federal workers, and businesses with more than 100 employees would be required to either mandate vaccines for all their workers or test those workers weekly. Companies that fail to abide by this rule, per the proposal, would be subject to fines of $14,000 per violation—though there would also be a grace period for compliance.
On top of this, Biden’s plan included harsher penalties for travelers flouting the TSA’s mask mandates—raising the minimum fine to $500.
And really, can you blame the Biden Administration for adopting some of these sterner tactics? As of this writing, CDC records show states like Alabama and Idaho are reporting less than 40% of their citizens as vaccinated, while states like Missouri, Texas, and Georgia report less than 50%. While there are certainly people who can’t get vaccinated for perfectly understandable reasons—like those that are underage or suffer from certain autoimmune disorders—there are plenty of others in these states avoiding the jab for less-than legit reasons. Hopefully, some of the mandates get these never-vaxxers to change their tune.