Finnair will soon start allowing passengers who have received just one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine to board flights without providing proof of a negative Coronavirus test or recent infection. The change in policy comes amidst a slew of new studies that suggest a single vaccine dose can provide significant protection from symptomatic infection.
The Finnish flag carrier has required passengers to present proof of a recent negative test or infection since late January over fears of virus variants that were first detected in South Africa and Brazil. From May 11, passengers who can present a valid vaccination certificate can skip the requirement to take a test.
The big issue, however, will be what type of ‘certificate’ Finnair will accept as proof of vaccination. On Friday, the airline suggested CDC vaccination cards and World Health Organization (WHO) ‘yellow books’ would be accepted.
As a minimum any certificate must include: the customer’s name, date of birth, the name of the vaccine producer, the time and place the vaccine was administered, and the issuer of the certificate.
At present, Finnair will only accept vaccines approved by the WHO. As of April 8, the WHO says only four vaccines have so far met its criteria for safety and efficacy. These are the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine, Pfizer / BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson / Jansen and Moderna vaccines.
Despite Finnair’s links with China and the Far East, the airline will not accept passengers who have been inoculated using homegrown Chinese vaccines from the likes of Sinopharm. The decision also precludes customers in Russia and elsewhere who have received the Sputnik jab.
“Vaccines have proven their power in fighting the pandemic, and vaccination certificates will play a key role in the upcoming EU Digital Green Certificate to ensure the health and safety of travellers,” commented Kimmo Ketola, Finnair’s Medical Director at Finnair.
“The likelihood of a vaccinated person being infected and transmitting COVID-19 is very small,” Ketola continued.
The latest results from two separate studies in the United Kingdom showed that COVID-19 infections fell by 65 per cent after a single dose of either Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines.
Customers must, however, have received their vaccine at least 21 days before travel.
The European Union is scrambling to get its Green Certificate scheme up and running by the summer, although that ambitious target is likely to slip. In the meantime, there is likely to be a patchwork of what individual airlines and countries accept as proof of vaccination.
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.