American and United Airlines have confirmed that they have received doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine from the Chicago Department of Public Health for use on employees. Both airlines, which have major hubs in Chicago, said they would start inoculating frontline staffers using the vaccine starting Thursday.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, made by the company’s Jansen subsidiary, was only approved for use by the Federal Drug Administration [speaker-mute](FDA)[/speaker-mute] on Saturday following a thorough medical review that found the jab is safe and effective.
The fact that the jab is single-shot could be a game-changer for the aviation industry because workers have been struggling to schedule the first and second shot of the Pfizer [speaker-mute]/ BioNTech[/speaker-mute] and Moderna vaccines around their flying schedules.
Pilots and other safety-critical staff who have to wait at least 48-hours after receiving the vaccine as a result of [speaker-sub alias=”Federal aviation administration”]FAA[/speaker-sub] safety rules will also have less downtime with a single-shot vaccine.
In an internal memo, American Airlines said all of its employees based at Chicago O’Hare would be eligible to receive the vaccine but customer-facing staffers would be prioritized. The vaccine will be administered in a makeshift vaccination center set up in a former airline lounge in Terminal 3.[speaker-voice name=”en-US-Wavenet-H”]”We’re incredibly proud of the essential work our team members have been doing throughout the pandemic, and we’re thrilled to be able to provide COVID-19 vaccination opportunities for our team at Chicago O’Hare International Airport [speaker-mute](ORD)[/speaker-mute] starting this week,”[/speaker-voice] a spokesperson for American Airlines told us on Wednesday.
United Airlines will initially only make the vaccine available to employees aged 65 years and above, as well as operational flight crew. The airline, which is based in Chicago, has its own employee health center at O’Hare airport.
United’s chief executive Scott Kirby has publicly suggested that vaccination against COVID-19 should be compulsory for airline workers, although the company is yet to impose a vaccination rule on workers.
Last month, Delta set up an employee vaccination center in a disused part of Atlanta hartfield International Airport, as well as a larger vaccination center at the Delta Flight Museum. Under current vaccination guidelines issued by the state of Georgia only employees aged 65 years and older are currently eligible to receive a vaccine.
Delta chief executive Ed Bastian recently told employees that the airline was looking to set up dedicated employee vaccination centers in several other airports across the U.S.
The Association of Flight Attendants [speaker-mute](AFA-CWA)[/speaker-mute] has previously called on state and local authorities to set up mass vaccination centers in major airports in order to reach frontline aviation workers who struggle to access traditional vaccination hubs.
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.