August 26, 2021

COVID Vaccine Updates for Pilots

ALPA continues to receive calls and DARTs from members asking the status of flight crews taking COVID-19 vaccines.

In addition to working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transport Canada (TC) for swift approval for pilots to be vaccinated, ALPA has also been working to get flight crews voluntary access to vaccines once they receive government approval and are available to essential workers.

Join the COVID-19 Community Corps, a campaign to increase vaccine confidence.

Eligibility Priority 

ALPA continues to advocate to increase the prioritization of flight crews to voluntarily receive the vaccine. Each state, and in some cases each county, is ultimately responsible for determining prioritization of vaccine distribution. 

Search Vaccine Priority by State:

Government Authorizations 

On August 23, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use by individuals age 16 and older. Policies for pilots who choose to receive vaccines remain unchanged as described below.

As of February 27, 2021, the FDA has granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for the following COVID-19 vaccines:

  • Moderna Therapeutics (authorized December 18, 2020)
  • Janssen, produced by Johnson & Johnson (authorized February 27, 2021)

The FAA Office of Aerospace Medicine has adopted policy changes allowing the use of the three vaccines listed above by holders of FAA-issued airman medical certificates or medical clearances, with the following conditions:

  • A 48-hour no fly/no safety-related-duty interval must be observed after each dose.
  • Before returning to duty, pilots should be free of any significant side effects from the vaccine.

Currently, the FAA only allows the Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen COVID-19 vaccines for use by medical certificate holders. Other COVID-19 vaccines will be individually considered by the FAA following granting of each FDA EUA. Pilots should not participate in trials of other manufacturers’ COVID vaccines at this time.

Read more from FAA

In early December, the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended prioritizing the initial phase of the vaccination. Priority would be given to frontline health workers, along with residents and workers in long-term care facilities.

In Canada

Health Canada has authorized certain COVID-19 vaccines for use (Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Janssen [Johnson and Johnson]) and Transport Canada (TC) has stated that taking a Health Canada-approved vaccine will not result in restrictions or limitations to aviators. TC Civil Aviation Medicine does not impose grounding periods for aviators wishing to take vaccines approved by Health Canada. TC has advised, however, that participating in any vaccine clinical trial is incompatible with medical certification. 

Read more from TC.

Further information regarding immunizations can be found in the Aeronautical Information Manual 3.13.

ALPA is actively engaged in this issue on all fronts in the United States and Canada; additional information will be published here as it becomes available.