Singapore Airlines will start offering free COVID-19 vaccinations for frontline staff including pilots, cabin crew and ground staff beginning January 13. The offer will initially be open to employees who are actively working and whose jobs require regular mandatory COVID-19 testing but the airline hopes to extend the offer to its entire workforce in the coming months.
The government of Singapore has so far only approved the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine but the small city-state says it has ordered enough vaccines to inoculate its entire 5.7 million population. Other vaccines that have been ordered but have not yet been approved include candidates from Moderna and China’s Sinovac.
Singapore Airlines is believed to be the first airline to have publicly stated its aim to inoculate frontline workers against COVID-19 as part of its own rollout of the vaccine. Etihad Airways has also vaccinated some of its frontline workers as well as the airline’s chief executive but has not officially announced a mass vaccination drive.
“Those who are eligible (for the vaccines) include cabin crew, pilots, airport-based staff whose job requires them to interact with passengers, and selected engineering staff,” explained a Singapore Airlines spokesperson on Tuesday.
“Participation is voluntary, and the SIA Group strongly encourages all eligible staff to take up this offer.”
A mass vaccination centre is to be set up in the arrivals hall at Singapore Changi airport’s terminal 4 according to The Straits Times.
Only healthcare workers are currently being offered COVID-19 jabs as part of Singapore’s mass vaccination drive, and elderly people won’t be offered the vaccine until next month at the earliest. Singapore hopes to have vaccinated its entire population by the end of the year.
In many parts of the world, aviation workers have argued without success that they should be prioritised for vaccination, saying that the very nature of their jobs put them at increased risk of infection.
Many countries have, however, stuck to vaccination rollouts that prioritise older people, healthcare workers and vulnerable people with underlying medical conditions.
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.