India Issues Guidelines For Vaccinating Airline Employees

As India’s vaccination efforts ramp up, the government has issued guidelines to innoculate aviation employees. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has also reached out to states to prioritize aviation staff due to their frontline role in the pandemic. India opened vaccines to all adults from May 1st, allowing all airline staff to be vaccinated now.

IndiGo A320neo
The government wants to see airline employees vaccinated as soon as possible to ensure safe operations. Photo: Airbus

Boosting efforts

As vaccines become available to all adults across India, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) is stepping up to prioritize aviation staff. Guidelines issued yesterday call upon all companies in the industry to set up vaccination camps for their employees as soon as possible.

The major request has been directed towards airports, asking them to set up dedicated vaccine counters for frontline staff immediately. This includes all airline crews, air traffic controllers, passenger-facing staff, and other critical personnel. The price per dose can be set by airport operators and vaccine providers, although many might make vaccines free for their employees.

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The government wants to see vaccine facilities opened up at airports for airline and ground staffers. Photo: Getty Images

While major airports might be able to support dedicated vaccine counters, smaller ones may not. Therefore, smaller airports can reach out to local authorities to outsource vaccinations for their staff.

In addition to the airport facilities, organizations are also free to continue making vaccine agreements with other government or private groups. Airlines have already begun vaccinating using their own resources, and the government does not stop that.

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Jab and go?

During the first phase, the airport vaccine facilities will only be open to aviation employees, as listed above. However, once most staff are covered, the facilities could be expanded to their family members as well. This expanding role might mean that airports become key to vaccination efforts across India.

In the future, we could see passengers receive their first or second dose (or one-shot ones) of the vaccine at the airport itself. This isn’t a novel idea, with airports in Alaska already planning to implement a similar plan, among others.

Indian Airlines
Could getting your vaccine dose at departure or arrival become a common practice? Photo: Getty Images

However, there are some caveats. The DGCA has said that airline crews should not fly in the first 48 hours after vaccination, according to Mint. This is due to varying side-effects that might occur from vaccination. Common side effects include a sore arm, fever, fatigue, headaches, and more. Considering this, it is best for crew to stay at home and rest through the side effects.

Airlines race ahead

While MoCA has just released vaccine guidelines, airlines are racing ahead to vaccinate their employees. Air India has already said that it will vaccine its entire crew with one dose by the end of May. Meanwhile, India’s largest airline, IndiGo, plans to vaccinate its entire 23,000 employees for free and become the first fully vaccinated airline in the country, according to Travel Daily.

IndiGo A320neo
IndiGo has begun vaccinating its employees across the country and plans to ramp up efforts soon. Photo: Getty Images

The coming weeks will likely see many more airline staff receive their vaccines and continue flying safely. Considering the outsized role airlines are currently playing, it is a good idea to inoculate them as soon as possible.

What do you think about the government’s aviation vaccination plan? Let us know in the comments!