India’s aviation authority has issued a medical circular deeming pilots that have been vaccinated as ‘medically unfit’ to fly for 48 hours. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has said pilots will be free to return to duties after 48 hours, provided there are no symptoms.
India’s pilots temporarily banned for 48 hours
The DGCA’s latest guidelines will force pilots onto the sidelines for 48 hours after receiving vaccinations. With some concern about symptoms experienced by those after vaccination, India’s aviation regulator has decided to deem pilots as medically unfit for flying for 48 hours. If pilots and aircrew experience no symptoms whatsoever after 48 hours, they are free to resume ‘unrestricted’ flying duties.
— DGCA (@DGCAIndia) March 9, 2021
In addition to this, any pilots experiencing symptoms after 48 hours will need to undergo a medical review by their company doctor before deciding on their medical fitness to fly. Pilots will only be allowed to return to duties if they are completely asymptomatic, do not require any medicine, and receive a ‘medical cure certificate.’
After vaccination, pilots and crew will be monitored for a period of 30 minutes in case of any anaphylactic or idiosyncratic reactions. If any crew members are still experiencing symptoms after 14 days, they will need a ‘special medical examination.’
Airlines in India push forward with vaccinations
Indian airlines are looking to get their crews vaccinated, with the country as a whole in the middle of a vaccination drive that started in mid-January. Airlines have written to the Ministry of Civil Aviation requesting that their workers are given priority, as they have been an essential part of the front line.
Several airlines globally have already begun vaccinating their crews, including Etihad, El Al and Emirates. While some are looking at mandating vaccinations for their crew, others, including Delta and Alaska, won’t force their staff to get the jab. IndiGo has said it will cover the full costs of vaccinations for its staff and ensure it does not disrupt their operations. A spokesperson for IndiGo said,
“We are working towards facilitating the Covid-19 vaccination to all our employees in a streamlined manner so as to ensure that all our staff get vaccinated while also making sure that our operations are not affected during the process. We will sponsor the vaccines for our staff and will facilitate it for their families.”
India’s vaccination rollout gets going
India began its vaccination campaign on January 16th, with frontline and healthcare workers receiving the jab. The country approved the AstraZeneca vaccine on January 1st and is also trialing the Indian-made Covaxin jab. The nation recently entered Phase 2 of its vaccination drive, which includes people over 60 and those aged 45 to 59 with underlying illnesses.
So far, over 20 million vaccine doses have been administered across India, with over 2 million administered on Monday. Notably, the Dalai Lama received his first jab in Dharamsala and urged those across the country to get vaccinated.
Is this a smart move by aviation regulators in India, or is it an unnecessary precaution? Let us know your insights and opinions in the comments.