As air travel returns to pre-pandemic levels and the more contagious delta variant continues to spread, Rep. Ritchie Torres and City Council member Mark Levine are urging the federal government to institute a vaccination mandate to fly both domestically and internationally.
"It is absolute insanity that you can get on an airplane in America without vaccination," Levine said.
Levine called air travel motivation for the unvaccinated to get the shot.
Torres said he sent a letter to both the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration asking for the policy change.
"We must come to grips with the fact that voluntary vaccination will only take us so far. We have to exhaust every mean to crush the delta variant, which included targeted vaccine mandates," Torres said.
Roughly 50% of Americans are fully vaccinated. But not all air travelers agree it should be required to take flight.
"It is going against the constitutional rights of the will to just have freedom, and it is a thin line," said traveler Anthony Watts.
Currently, the CDC only requires international travelers to show a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight to the U.S.
Some think mandatory vaccinations will make the skies safer.
"You are in close quarters with people you don’t know, and you don’t know their vaccine status and the delta variant is spreading," said traveler Matt McBan.
“I work in the hospitals so it is the fear and what it is done, so to be safe and to be considerate of other people, yes," said traveler Yvette Tompkins.
The city’s Health Department says 20% of cases in the five boroughs come from people traveling here, some of them residents returning home from trips.