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Burlington airport travelers weigh in on vaccine passports

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 8:18 AM EDT
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - There’s a growing debate over whether COVID vaccine passports should be mandatory for travel. Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott has introduced a bill called the Freedom to Fly Act which would prohibit the TSA from inquiring about a traveler’s vaccination status before they fly.

WCAX News talked with travelers at the Burlington International Airport to see whether they believe people around them should need to disclose vaccination status before getting on a plane.

“Summer travel has started we are really excited about it. It’s really nice to see the airport so busy,” said Gene Richards, the director of aviation at the airport.

Richards says more people are taking to the skies each week. Last week, 5,000 people flew through Burlington, and this week it’s jumped up to 7,500.

Travelers are still required to mask up while on planes and in the airport to prevent the spread of COVID.

Sen. Scott’s new Freedom to Fly Act, if passed, could prevent any sort of vaccine passport in the future of flying.

Richards says flying without being vaccinated does put others at risk.

“I would like to see everybody vaccinated -- that’s my belief, it’s the safest situation -- but I don’t like to put my beliefs on others. So, I believe that’s what makes this America and people do the right thing for themselves, but personally, it would be ideal,” Richards said.

Sen. Scott says he believes he will get bipartisan support for his bill.

“I don’t believe the government ought to be asking you for your personal medical information. I believe that that’s not appropriate and I don’t believe it’s appropriate for the TSA to ask you for your personal medical information if you want to fly,” Scott said.

Many of the people we caught up with who were traveling to and from Burlington said they think vaccines should be mandated to fly unless there is a medical exception.

“I think either a vaccination or a negative test within the last 48 or 72 hours or something like that,” said Gray Gutfreund of Los Angeles.

“I definitely do think people should be vaccinated to fly. It’s just important for everyone to stay as healthy and safe as possible. It’s a small act to do for mankind,” said Celia Silvia of South Carolina.

“I wear the mask. I’m safe, I’m vaccinated, so I wear it for everyone else because they don’t know I’m vaccinated. But if they all knew, then it would be so much easier,” said Diane Lapointe of Phoenix.

WCAX did meet some people who were not vaccinated and who declined to go on camera. They said air travelers should be free to choose.

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