Irish carrier Aer Lingus has reminded staff that they are prohibited from receiving the Covid vaccine on layovers in the United States while they are on duty.
Side effects whilst flying
Whilst the urgency to vaccinate crew members can be agreed on by everyone, including the UN, Irish carrier Aer Lingus has recently had to remind staff that they should not be getting vaccinated on US layovers whilst they are on duty. The reminder emerges after it came to light that a number of crew members had been doing so. Advice from the airline management states that staff should not travel 48 hours after being vaccinated, due to the risk of developing side effects, such as fever and tiredness. Operating an aircraft within this timeframe could compromise the competence of the crew and thus the safety of the flight.
Clarifying the safety regulation, a statement from Aer Lingus confirmed:
“This is to allow time for any side effects to wear off and to ensure crew are fully fit for duty. As a result, Aer Lingus crew are unable to receive a vaccination for Covid-19 if in the US on duty…Crew are asked to adhere to all medical advice given by their medical provider in relation to vaccinations.”
Following EASA recommendations
Aer Lingus is following recommendations from the EASA, who stated at the end of March that aircrews should wait between two and three days after vaccination before undertaking any flight-related tasks. The EASA also outlined that side effects could be “enhanced by in-flight conditions while at cruise level, such as lower air pressure and mild hypoxic environment.” As a result, they advise most airlines to opt for the safest option and follow the 48 hour recommendation.
The EASA added that staff who had received the vaccine who were suffering from persistent side effects should always consult an aeromedical examiner. Aeromedical examiners are therefore expected to encourage staff to consult them when it comes to getting vaccinated and side effects.
US vaccine abundance
Whilst many countries have dealt with shortages of the vaccine and slow roll-outs, the US has faced the opposite problem. A fast rollout combined with hesitancy has led to an abundant supply of vaccines, hence Aer Lingus staff capitalising on this.
These factors have led many to incentivise getting the vaccine, from handing out free beer and coffee in Nashville, to offering free French fries in New York. In the state of Ohio, the incentive was taken one further, giving people the chance to win one million dollars for taking the vaccine. Despite outlandish initiatives, however, the safe return of travel is everybody’s priority.
What do you think of Aer Lingus’ staff members getting vaccines on layovers? Would you travel on an aircraft whose pilot has just been vaccinated? Share your thoughts with us below.