Following the Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Pfizer, Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has determined that pilots may receive the vaccine under the conditions of their FAA-issued airman medical certification. FAA Air Traffic Controllers, who are subject to FAA medical clearance, may also receive the vaccine.
To maintain the highest level of safety in the National Airspace System, the agency will require aviation professionals with medical certifications or medical clearances to observe a period of 48 hours following the administration of this vaccine before conducting safety-sensitive aviation duties, such as flying or controlling air traffic.
Because the Pfizer vaccine requires two doses, 21 days apart for maximum effectiveness, this waiting period applies after each dose.
The FAA anticipates taking no additional measures to ensure safety after the initial window for side effects closes. 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.
The FAA 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 FAA applies similar brief waiting periods after administration of other vaccines, including those for tuberculosis and typhoid.
The FAA encourages Americans to receive COVID-19 vaccinations as authorized by FDA. Its policy announcement pertains to a specialized group of FAA-certificated professionals who perform safety-sensitive aviation duties.