Officials fighting measles outbreaks threaten air travel ban
Health officials in five states have warned people believed to be infected with measles and planning to travel that a federal regulation could prevent them from boarding planes.
All eight individuals agreed to cancel their flights after learning the government could place them on the “do not board list” managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Martin Cetron, director of the agency’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, which tracks disease outbreaks.
Officials are often reluctant to talk about the government’s travel ban authority “because it is a politically charged and politically visible request,” said Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health policy at Georgetown University.
The step is less restrictive than other public health measures like isolation or quarantine, but it “is seen as a government using its power over the people and the states, which is kind of toxic in America right now,” said Gostin. “There is nothing unethical or wrong about it. It’s just plain common sense that if you have an actively infectious individual, they should not get on an airplane.”
Health officials emphasize that vaccination is the best and most effective way to protect against measles and that the majority of people with infectious, communicable diseases, like measles, listen to doctors’ advice to not travel.