Tuesday, December 15, 2020
COVID-19 Vaccine Update
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. This is excellent news, and we hope this will lead to an increase in demand for air travel. We know this authorization raises many questions. While we do not yet have the answers to all of your questions, we want to share what we know.
Who will get the vaccine and when?
Who gets the vaccine and when will be determined by federal and state governmental agencies, based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC advisory panel started meeting earlier this year to determine who should receive the vaccine first upon approval. The CDC’s most recent guidance breaks “Phase 1” into three groups: 1a, 1b, and 1c. (Note: some news outlets/agencies report this as Group 1, Group 2, and Group 3.)
The first group, 1a, is healthcare workers and those in residential care facilities, such as nursing homes. Group 1b includes transportation workers (including Flight Attendants) and other “essential workers” such as educators, firefighters, police officers, etc. Group 1c includes people over 65 and those with underlying medical conditions for which COVID-19 is particularly dangerous.
When will Flight Attendants will be able to receive the vaccine?
Initially, there are only 20 million doses available. That is not even close to enough to cover everyone in group 1a. It will still be a while before Flight Attendants are eligible to receive the vaccine.
Will I be required to receive the vaccine?
While an employer can legally require employees to receive a vaccination, it is unknown whether American Airlines will require employees to receive the Coronavirus vaccine. APFA will continue to advocate for the safest course of action for our members. If the Company decides to require employees to receive the vaccine, it must consider religious accommodations requests under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and medical accommodations requests under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Will the pilots receive the vaccine?
The FAA has approved, with certain conditions, pilots and air traffic controllers to receive the vaccine. Both of these groups of employees are required to maintain medical certifications.
APFA will continue to share information as it becomes available. The good news is the vaccine is now a reality and will ultimately be available to our members. In the meantime, please continue to follow all protocols, stay safe, and take care of each other.
APFA National President
Please remember, we have 7,985 involuntarily furloughed Flight Attendants at American Airlines.