Pilots and cabin crew working for Irish airline Aer Lingus have been ‘reminded’ not to get vaccinated to protect themselves against COVID-19 during work layovers in the United States over fears they could suffer side effects and then not be fit to work the return flight home.
It’s not clear how many flight crew have taken advantage of the ready supply of vaccines available in the US but Aer Lingus management has felt the need to send out a memo forbidding the practice, the Irish Independent reports.
The Republic of Ireland is currently only allowing residents aged over 50 years old, as well as healthcare workers and medically vulnerable people to access the vaccine with the Health Service Executive (HSE) saying it can’t provide an indication of when younger people might be able to get vaccinated because of limited supplies.
The United States currently has a surplus supply of vaccines after taking the decision to impose export bans. All three vaccines currently approved for use in the US are also approved in Ireland.
The Johnson & Johnson Jansen jab is particularly popular amongst visitors because it is a single shot vaccine which is readily available across the US.
Pilots and cabin crew have caught onto the fact that many vaccination centers in the United States are happy to vaccinate visitors without the need to supply proof of residency or citizenship. The vaccines are available for free and a growing number of centers offer walk-in appointments.
But European aviation rules prohibit flight crew from getting vaccinated within 48-hours of a duty just in case of an adverse effect. Most layovers are just 24-hours meaning that crew who get vaccinated during a work trip might not be fit to operate the flight home.
“In line with EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency), HSE and Aer Lingus medical provider guidelines, Aer Lingus crew are not permitted to report for duty until a minimum of 48 hours post vaccination for Covid-19,” a spokesperson for the airline explained.
“Crew are asked to adhere to all medical advice given by the HSE and their medical provider in relation to vaccinations.”
Unlike some countries, Ireland has not prioritised transport workers for the vaccine and flight crew must wait until their age group is called forward.
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.