The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is supporting the first mass transit of a COVID-19 vaccine. FAA has worked proactively with other U.S. government agencies, air carriers, and aviation stakeholders to ensure the continued safe transport of critical medical supplies and personnel.
The FAA established the “FAA COVID-19 Vaccine Air Transport Team” in October to ensure safe, expeditious, and efficient transportation of vaccines. Several vaccines need continued cold temperatures during transport, which, in some circumstances, require dry ice, a hazardous material. The FAA is working with manufacturers, air carriers, and airport authorities to provide guidance on implementing current regulatory requirements for safely transporting large quantities of dry ice in air cargo.
In addition to mitigating safety risks related to the safe transport of vaccines, the FAA is ensuring around-the-clock air traffic services to keep air cargo moving and prioritizing flights carrying cargo, such as vaccines, and personnel critical to the nation’s response to and recovery from COVID-19.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has also announced that all of its necessary regulatory measures have been taken for the safe and rapid transportation of the COVID-19 vaccine by land and air.
“The Department has laid the groundwork for the safe transportation of the COVID-19 vaccine and is proud to support this historic endeavor,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
Over the last several weeks Department of Transportation agencies and Operation Warp Speed officials have been coordinating with the private sector companies that will carry the vaccines from manufacturing facilities to the distribution centers and inoculation points. DOT has established the appropriate safety requirements for all potential hazards involved in shipping the vaccine, including standards for dry ice and lithium batteries.
Additionally, DOT has continued to support critical supply chain networks by granting a nationwide exemption to hours-of-service regulations for trucking companies and commercial drivers providing direct emergency assistance. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s long-standing Emergency Declaration was also recently extended to support emergency transportation of vaccines and medical supplies and equipment related to the prevention of COVID-19.