Dr. Fauci Says a Mandated Vaccine for Travel 'Is on the Table' in New Interview

Dr. Anthony Fauci

As vaccines have begun to roll out and dreams of traveling again are increasingly becoming more of a reality, Dr. Anthony Fauci said it is "quite possible" that having the COVID-19 vaccine or presenting a vaccine passport will be necessary for future getaways.

In an interview with Newsweek published Friday, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that although he doesn't foresee a national vaccine mandate, he can imagine it being required traveling or attending school.

"Everything will be on the table for discussion," he told the magazine, noting that vaccine mandates may be decided at the state or city level.

At their core, vaccine passports allow travelers to prove they have immunization for a contagious virus or infection. And the concept isn't new: several countries in Africa, for example, require travelers to prove they have been vaccinated against yellow fever with an international certificate of vaccination or prophylaxis (or a "yellow card").

"So we, in this country, don't require [people] to get a yellow fever vaccine when you go some place. It's the place to which you are going that requires it," Fauci explained, adding it is "quite possible" a COVID-19 vaccine will be required to travel in the future. 

Though mass immunization may be a while off, several vaccines have been approved for emergency use, including one from Pfizer/BioNTech and a second from Moderna. And while travel isn't likely to significantly rebound until mid-2021, that hasn't stopped wanderlust-stricken travelers from looking ahead.  

However, Fauci said it's necessary to remember we still don't know if those who are vaccinated could become asymptomatic carriers and reminded everyone to continue to use precautionary measures despite vaccine progress.

"We do not know if the vaccines that prevent clinical disease also prevent infection. They very well might, but we have not proven that yet," he told Newsweek. "That's the reason why I keep saying that even though you get vaccinated, we should not eliminate, at all, public health measures like wearing masks because we don't know yet what the effect [of the vaccine] is on transmissibility."

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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