Rare air travel ban could return to combat measles

By | May 24, 2019

People with measles or who aren’t vaccinated for the virus may want to change their travel plans.

Five state health officials have enacted a measure to deter people infected with measles or who are not vaccinated from boarding planes, according to the Washington Post. Eight individuals were told they could be added to a Do Not Board List managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because they were not vaccinated, and they rearranged their travel plans.

Health officials have been hesitant to call this a ban, both because government authority has not been invoked and because “it is a politically charged and politically visible request,” said Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health policy at Georgetown University.

There is nothing unethical or wrong about the Do Not Board List, Gostin said.

“It’s just plain common sense that if you have an actively infectious individual, they should not get on an airplane,” he said.

If an infected individual, or one who has not been vaccinated, insists on boarding a plane, the CDC has the authority to place that individual on the Do Not Board List.

While they have not officially placed infected people on the list since the latest measles outbreak began in 2018, health officials in Rockland County, N.Y., and New York City, the epicenter of the measles outbreak, have effectively warned several infected people against traveling. That includes several people who intended to travel to Israel, a country in which about 23% of people are vaccinated, for the Passover holiday in April.

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City has instituted various controversial measures to improve vaccination rates in the city, especially in Brooklyn neighborhoods that are home to largely Orthodox Jewish families.

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Some of these measures include fines potentially exceeding $ 1,000 for parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids, as well as closing schools that teach unvaccinated children. New York City has seen 523 measles cases as of May 20, of a total 880 cases in 24 states.

The Do Not Board List was first established in 2007 when an Atlanta man with drug-resistant tuberculosis boarded a transatlantic flight, causing a health scare that warranted creating a CDC-sanctioned list.