Civil aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Tuesday said that pilots and cabin crew members will not fly in an aircraft for 48 hours after being vaccinated against coronavirus.
“If there are no symptoms after 48 hours, the air crew (which includes pilots and cabin crew) is fit to resume ‘unrestricted’ flying duties,” a DGCA said in a circular that it issued. As per the order, the air crew will be monitored for 30 minutes after taking the shot at the COVID-19 vaccination centre itself for any anaphylactic and idiosyncratic reaction.
“Air crew will be ‘medically unfit for flying’ for 48 hours after vaccination,” the DGCA said. If, after 48 hours, the pilot experiences any symptoms, he or she will be reviewed by treating physician or his or her authorised medical attendant, the regulator added.
“Such pilots can be declared fit for flying duties provided they are asymptomatic without any medications and ‘medical care certificate’ to this effect to be obtained,” it added. The DGCA said if the medical unfitness period post-COVID-19 vaccination is more than 14 days, then a ‘special medication examination’ will be required to ascertain fitness for flying.
FAA Guidance for Pilots
The DGCA order follows a similar guidance from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as COVID-19 vaccines are distributed throughout the United States. The guidance regarding what restrictions, if any, are to be placed on pilots who receive vaccinations.
The FAA has issued guidance which identifies certain limitations for the holders of FAA airmen medical certificates or medical clearances who receive either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
Specifically, the FAA, through the Office of Aerospace Medicine (AAM) has stated that those individuals receiving either vaccine must be placed on a 48-hour “no fly/no safety-related duty” hold upon receiving each dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
Importantly, the FAA has noted the AAM will continue to monitor patient responses to each vaccine dose and may adjust the FAA’s policy as necessary to ensure aviation safety. The AAM has not provided any comments on vaccines which may be developed by manufacturers other than Pfizer or Moderna.
As additional vaccines are granted Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, the AAM will evaluate each vaccine individually and provide additional guidance with respect to such vaccines, as necessary.