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COVID-19 Vaccine and Fitness to Fly

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INTRODUCTION: On December 2020 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the emergency use of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. This new vaccine has several side effects that can potentially impair function, which warrants special attention regarding aircrews fitness to fly following vaccination.

METHODS: A survey was conducted in the Israeli Air Force (IAF) Aeromedical Center in order to characterize the side effects and their duration following Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine administration to aviators.

RESULTS: The most common side effect was injection site pain. Headache, chills, myalgia, fatigue, and weakness were more common following the second dose administration. The difference is statistically significant. Following the second vaccine, duration of side effects was longer compared to the first vaccine (P-value 0.002).

CONCLUSION: The IAF Aeromedical center policy for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine recipients among aircrew members, based on side effects duration and severity, is to temporarily ground from flight duties for 24 and 48 h following the first and the second dose, respectively.

Gabbai D, Ekshtein A, Tehori O, Ben-Ari O, Shapira S. COVID-19 vaccine and fitness to fly. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2021; 92(9):698701.

Keywords: COVID-19 vaccine; aeromedical waiver; aircrew; aviation; corona virus; side effects

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2021

More about this publication?
  • This journal (formerly Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine), representing the members of the Aerospace Medical Association, is published monthly for those interested in aerospace medicine and human performance. It is devoted to serving and supporting all who explore, travel, work, or live in hazardous environments ranging from beneath the sea to the outermost reaches of space. The original scientific articles in this journal provide the latest available information on investigations into such areas as changes in ambient pressure, motion sickness, increased or decreased gravitational forces, thermal stresses, vision, fatigue, circadian rhythms, psychological stress, artificial environments, predictors of success, health maintenance, human factors engineering, clinical care, and others. This journal also publishes notes on scientific news and technical items of interest to the general reader, and provides teaching material and reviews for health care professionals.

    To access volumes 74 through 85, please click here.
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