One day after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency-use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, the FAA on Saturday determined that pilots can receive the vaccine under the conditions of their FAA-issued airman medical certification. In addition, the agency said, FAA air traffic controllers subject to FAA medical clearance can also receive the vaccine.
However, these pilots and controllers "with medical certifications or medical clearances" must wait 48 hours following the administration of this vaccine before conducting safety-sensitive aviation duties, meaning flying or controlling air traffic. This waiting period applies after each dose—the Pfizer vaccine requires two doses, 21 days apart for maximum effectiveness.
“The FAA anticipates taking no additional measures to ensure safety after the initial window for side effects closes,” it said. “However, the agency’s medical professionals will continuously monitor the initial distribution of the novel vaccine and documented clinical results and will adjust these recommendations as needed.”
Meanwhile, the FAA said it will evaluate vaccines from other manufacturers as they receive FDA authorization in the coming weeks and months and will advise pilots and air traffic controllers of any waiting periods required for those vaccines. The agency said it applies similar waiting periods after administration of other vaccines, including those for tuberculosis and typhoid.