Covid-19: EASA guidelines on vaccination of pilots
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has released guidelines advising that airline crew should wait for 48 hours after COVID-19 jabs before returning to work.
The guidelines were issued in its latest Safety Information Bulletin, published at the end of March 2021. In the bulletin, EASA recommends that given their increased exposure to the Coronavirus, aircrew should receive their COVID-19 vaccinations as early as possible in line with national vaccination programmes.
It also advised that pilots should wait for 48 hours after receiving their vaccination before resuming flight-related operations. This period could be extended to 72 hours for those engaged in single-pilot commercial operations.
The guidelines went on to say that in the event of experiencing side effects for more than 48 hours after vaccination, aircrew should, in consultant with their aeromedical examiner (AME), wait until these side effects have completely resolved before returning to work.
EASA took the opportunity to remind staff of their obligations in relation to medical fitness requirements.
FAA guidelines on vaccination
The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released similar guidelines in February 2021. The administration advised that flight crew members should not act as pilot in command or in any other flight crew role 48 hours after receiving each dose of Johnson & Johnson, Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations.
This ruling was published following evaluation by the Federal Air Surgeon of information around the vaccines quoted and their possible side effects.
The FAA also stated that if aircrew members suffer side effects after this 48-hour period, again they should not act as pilot in command or in any other aircrew capacity for as long as the symptoms last.
The guidance published by the FAA does however allow distance learning and for aircrew members to provide or get flight simulator duties. This includes ground instruction and training that does not require flight operations.
The FAA guidance permits the execution of office duties and administrative tasks in these circumstances. It also allows “deadheading” (flying off duty as a passenger to their home base or to work on another flight) or “jump seating” (flying for the same purpose but in a seat assigned specially to staff).