On Friday evening, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.
A massive coordination effort is underway between the local and federal government, hospitals, pharmacy chains and logistics companies — including airlines — as the vaccine is readied for use by early next week.
With the Pfizer vaccine now available for the U.S. public as early as Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has also taken the extraordinary step to provide vaccination authorization and guidelines for pilots and air traffic controllers.
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The FAA has approved aviation professionals with medical certifications or medical clearances to be vaccinated. However, these individuals must also observe a period of 48 hours following administration of the vaccine before being permitted to fly or perform air traffic control duties.
With two doses of the vaccine required 21 days apart, the 48-hour waiting period applies to each dose. Of note, the 48-hour waiting period isn’t new. In fact, the administration of other vaccines, including those for tuberculosis and typhoid requires the same process.
Just in: FAA has cleared the use of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine by pilots. After each dose, they will have to wait 48 hours before flying. Earlier this week, the FAA said it would quickly review the vaccine following FDA authorization.
— Pete Muntean (@petemuntean) December 12, 2020
The FAA has said that it doesn’t anticipate taking additional measures to ensure safety after the initial window for side effects closes. And while these vaccine guidelines only pertain to the Pfizer version, the FAA plans to evaluate vaccines from other manufacturers as they receive FDA authorization in the coming weeks and months.
Earlier this month, Pfizer already tapped United Airlines to help position the vaccine around the world. In fact, United has a distinct title as the first commercial airline to fly the now-FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine. On behalf of Pfizer, the airline operated five cargo-only flights in early December delivering COVID-19 vaccines from Brussels to Chicago.
Now, Pfizer’s precious cargo — at minus-94 degrees Fahrenheit — will start rolling out of plants in Michigan and Wisconsin on Sunday to hospitals nationwide.
Featured photo courtesy of United.
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