March 03, 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.
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:
As of February 27, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for the following COVID-19 vaccines:
- Pfizer-BioNTech (authorized December 11, 2020)
- 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.
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.
Health Canada has authorized the following COVID-19 vaccines for use:
- Pfizer-BioNTech (authorized December 9, 2020)
- Moderna Therapeutics (authorized December 23, 2020)
- AstraZeneca, developed in partnership with Oxford University (authorized February 26, 2021)
- Covishield, Verity Pharmaceuticals Inc./the Serum Institute of India’s version of the AstraZeneca vaccine (authorized February 26, 2021)
TC has stated that taking a vaccine that has been authorized by Health Canada 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.
Further information regarding immunizations can be found in the Aeronautical Information Manual 3.13.
Prioritization of available vaccines in Canada is ongoing.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) previously stated that initial vaccine supply in Canada would be used for residents of senior living centers, health-care workers in care settings or those with direct contact with patients, people over the age of 80, and adults in indigenous communities. NACI has noted they may update or reevaluate the vaccine approach as more vaccine characteristics are defined.
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.