As the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic crashed across Europe and the United States in March an idea to deploy laid-off cabin crew into field hospitals treating Coronavirus patients was briefly touted. In the end, the limited healthcare training that cabin crew possess wasn’t needed on a mass scale but now flight attendants are being considered to form an army of ‘vaccinators’ ready to deploy COVID-19 vaccines.
The British government, through the National Health Service (NHS), has started to recruit so-called vaccinators for postings of between three and six months and no previous experience in administering injections is needed according to the official job advert.
Internal NHS documents suggest laid-off cabin crew would be perfect candidates for the role, although firefighters and laid-off hospitality workers are also being considered to join the vaccination army.
Conjuring up wartime slogans like “Your NHS Needs You,” the recruitment campaign is seeking to enlist tens of thousands of extra staff in a bid to vaccinate more than 60 million people in just six months. The UK is set to become the first Western nation to approve a COVID-19 vaccine with the Pfizer candidate likely to be approved by regulators by the end of this week.
The job ad tells prospective vaccinators that lawmakers recently changed strict rules in order to allow “a wider group of registered and non-registered professionals who can complete the appropriate training to deliver vaccines.”
“The release of a Covid-19 vaccination is imminent and highly anticipated,” the job ad continues. “When available, it will be our best defence against the virus used alongside effective social distancing, wearing a mask and washing your hands.”
The pandemic has left the aviation decimated and thousands of cabin crew have either been made redundant or are on longterm unpaid leave. Cabin crew are attractive candidates because of their enhanced First Aid and emergency training, their ability to work in ever-changing teams and, of course, their people skills.
In fact, the NHS warns applicants that they’ll sometimes be dealing with “aggressive patients and family members” and will need to cope with “difficult emotional situations”. Vaccinators will also be standing up for most of their working day while delivering the jabs.
Thankfully, full training will be given so that vaccinators with no previous healthcare experience can safely administer the jab to a patients deltoid. The British government is currently scouting mass-vaccination centres like sports halls and exhibition centres and is also working on plans for mobile vaccination units to visit elderly care homes.
The NHS never ended up using laid-off cabin crew on the frontlines of delivering care for Coronavirus patients but some flight attendants did volunteer in hospitals to provide ‘First Class’ services to doctors and nurses. In Sweden and even Singapore, some flight attendants received professional healthcare training as they transitioned into a new career.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.