An AFLDS Issue Brief for Citizens, Policymakers and Physicians
STATEMENT OF POSITION Air travel contributes to the economic lifeblood of the United States. According to the US Travel Association trade group, direct spending by resident and international travelers here averaged $3.1 BILLIONA DAY in 2019. Without the revenue stream generated by air travel, American taxpayers would each pay nearly $1,400 more in taxes every year. Reviving the travel and leisure industries therefore is a top priority for policymakers. Unsurprisingly, revenues have plummeted as a result of COVID-19, with losses topping $35 billion by at least one estimate and air travel down 70 percent from pre-pandemic levels.Requiring so-called “vaccine passports,” “digital IDs,” and other travel mandates for domestic air passengers and crews in the post-COVID era would raise costs on this struggling industry and impose severe restrictions on the constitutional rights of all Americans.Air travel has not proven to be a significant vector for COVID-19. As of late February, cases are down 77%. An estimated 55% to 66% of Americans already have natural immunity, significantly lowering if not obviating the need for vaccination of the general population to eradicate the virus’s transmissibility let alone imposing unprecedented travel restrictions. America’s Frontline Doctors (AFLDS) calls on government and the commercial airline industry to abandon requiring COVID-19 vaccines, currently investigational only by the FDA, and test documentation for passengers and crews. Mandates represent a radical departure from decades of public health guidelines and established medical ethics. In addition, they would be incredibly divisive for pilots, passengers, and crews and present an unnecessary intrusion into the personal privacy and freedom of movement for millions of Americans.
NO MEDICAL NECESSITY FOR VACCINE PASSPORTS As of this writing, the CEOs of Delta, United Airlines, and American Airlines have not gone on record opposing vaccine passports, though they have rejected mandatory COVID-19 testing for US domestic flights. This is a good first step toward reining in the hysteria. Pilots in particular are at exceedingly low risk of ever developing COVID-19 given their younger age as well as the demanding health requirements of their job. According to researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been no coronavirus clusters associated with air travel in the United States and the agency’s own guidance acknowledges that viruses do not spread easily on planes because of the way cabin air is filtered. Despite the scant evidence for viral transmission, however, the CDC issued a mask requirement for all air passengers in January.
CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES WITH VACCINE PASSPORTS A nation wide vaccine passport is unconstitutional and would result in immediate class-action lawsuits filed against the major carriers. For example, the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees unimpeded freedom of movement within and between states unless there is reasonable cause to suspend or otherwise restrict it. COVID-19, with a 99.7%-plus survival rate, does not rise to that level. Congress cannot restrict citizens’ right to travel; the closest the country has come to codifying such interstate policing power is to restrict the travel of infected livestock. This hardly passes constitutional muster when the passports themselves would be an unprecedented invasion of personal privacy.
CONCLUSION AFLDS opposes vaccine passports for all US citizens traveling domestically and encourages patients and physicians to do the same. Forcing experimental vaccines on cash-strapped customers and businesses is a sure-fire way to keep the economy grounded for years to come.We favor following the science to allow airlines to make their own decisions about passenger safety independent of government coercion and control. Many of the 750,000 jobs the industry had in 2020 won’t return if the federal government adds this prohibitive new cost.