The FAA has set guidelines for COVID vaccinations for Pilots and Air Traffic Controllers, but how about flight attendants? Without the FAA saying much about Flight Attendants, aren’t they of the same caliber as flight crew ensuring the smooth operation of flights?
Has the FAA forgot about Flight Attendants?
On Friday evening, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use. This would further the notion of having a possible sense of normalcy before summer. Giving the credence to a massive coordination effort not seen since WWII, from the federal government to states and localities.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the pharmaceutical company taps United Airlines for charter flights from Brussels to Chicago. In fact, part of their rapid expansion plans calls for positioning flights from Wisconsin and Germany.
However, there is no mention by the FAA about the Flight Attendants on this which evolve this into a thorny topic of conversation. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (CDC ACIP) voted in a 13-1 vote that health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities be first in line.
The vaccine might not be under FAA purview
The Advisory Committee should give additional guidelines at the end of the year. Furthermore, deciding who is next?
It would be a series of difficult conversations. States have their own priorities, from people 65 or older with significant illness in Florida to teachers in Kentucky to people with high-risk conditions in Pennsylvania.
While some state’s templates resemble other states, every state is unique in its approach. Even as the flexibility is good, states there needs to be some level of uniformity. It all falls under what is an “Essential Worker.”
However, it doesn’t mean the FAA can’t recommend
Here is where the good old lobbying enters the playing field. Everyone wants to be first, but still, there aren’t enough dosages to go around.
As a recent graduate, I can tell once 1A and possibly 1B go through, there will be a free-for-all skirmish over who gets the vaccine first.
From the suppliers to the farmworker to the flight attendant, everyone will get in the action, and let’s not forget pharmacists and dentists.
Every association in Washington D.C. will become ground zero. Calling all their Government Relation/Lobbying Departments to turn up the heat towards Congress and simultaneously towards the CDC.
While it shouldn’t be a zero-sum game (in practicality, it is), the ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization) should be guided by industries where distancing cannot occur. That being manufacturing plants, airplanes, and other medical personnel not in any particular order.
Moderna Vaccine fills Pfizer’s delivery hole
Moreover, with Friday’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of Moderna’s vaccine, it should alleviate part of Pfizer’s delivery misses.
The Pharmaceutical is currently having supply problems in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and jurisdictions in and out of the Continental United States. Moderna plans to deliver 6 million doses, which are more than double what Pfizer promised.
This is becoming an issue over who’s right if states or Pfizer. States and Territories assure the public that shipments were cut while Pfizer assures “that no shipment has been on hold or delayed.”
The FAA is the best agency spearheading the efforts
Even though the FAA can’t show or play favorites, whatever it says or doesn’t say, it carries weight. It could also be key to whether or not flight attendants get in the next recommendation made by the CDC. Here is where the Unions can make their voices known to the FAA and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Even as around a dozen airline and aviation unions have already asked the ACIP late last week to prioritize “frontline aviation workers in the next phase of vaccine allocation (Phase 1b)…”
My thought still is that the road less traveled goes through the FAA and DOT.
What do you think about flight attendants not being included in the FAA’s approved list of crews that can receive COVID vaccinations? You can contact Alex Martinez Rivera below.
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