Flight Attendants Are Already Getting Vaccinated, And Governments Aren’t Ready

There’s already a vaccine available in the U.A.E. and Bahrain. It’s a Chinese vaccine, and it’s being given with emergency use authorization to ‘frontline workers’. That isn’t just health care workers. It even includes flight attendants at Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways. (HT: Paddle Your Own Kanoo)

The BBIBP-CorV vaccine from China’s state-owned Sinopharm appears efficacious. My concern with inactivated virus vaccines was that the benefits would be modest at best, but so far appears to be exceeding expectations. (My worry with adenovirus vaccines is that they’ll work once, but that we’ll develop immunity to the harmless virus used to deliver protection and it won’t work a second time, which is why long-term I’m excited by the mRNA vaccine from Pfizer.)

This isn’t just experimenting on people. Sinopharm has reportedly vaccinated at least hundreds of thousands of people outside of its stage 3 trial. Dubai’s ruler has even taken the vaccine and over 30,000 people in the U.A.E. have had it so far.

The Etihad flight attendant wasn’t part of the U.A.E. stage 3 trial, but rather received the vaccine as part of the the emergency use authorization for front line workers. She had vaccination paperwork. She returned home to Australia and the government there initially put her into a state quarantine hotel, not prepared to address ‘what do we do with people that have already taken a vaccine’.

Rochelle arrived at Sydney airport last week with her vaccination paperwork, much to the bewilderment of Australian health officials.
“They looked at me like I was the one making a mistake. They said you know there is no vaccine”, she said.

She was eventually allowed “into normal quarantine to join her family.”

It’s notable that ‘front line workers’ does include flight attendants, and that there’s enough injections in the U.A.E. for guest worker cabin crew at that.

Now that people are getting vaccinated and traveling, governments are going to have to figure out how to factor that into their border plans and quarantine rules.

  • Can borders be opened to people that have been vaccinated?
  • Does a vaccination suffice, or will the arriving passenger still need a negative Covid-19 test?
  • Will a vaccination replace required quarantine?

Even the Pfizer mRNA vaccine, which has so far exceeded expectations with regard to reported efficacy, is not perfect. Could a dose have thawed soemtime in transit or storage (though Pfizer will be tracking this)? With as many people who will ultimately receive injections there are surely going to be outliers on whom the vaccine works imperfectly. So vaccination isn’t a guarantee that someone does not get the virus and spread it at the exact moment they’ve traveled, it just makes it far less likely. That’s plenty good enough for some countries but not the view taken by some.

And until enough people in a community have been vaccinated, bringing the virus into a country where it’s not already spreading widely entails risk. Each country will likely take a somewhat different approach then, and the challenge is coming sooner than later (in fact it’s already here).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. If governments want a majority of people to take the vaccine there needs to be incentive.

    Unrestricted travel, attendance at sporting events, etc would all provide incentive.

    Assuming it opens borders and removes quarantine I’ll be the first in line. If the rules stay the same, regardless of being vaccinated, I’ll wait a few months minimum to make sure there’s no oddball side effects. Highly doubt I’m alone in that thinking.

  2. China and Russia both have vaccines of questionable value – no published studies to back up the efficacy. Are we going to treat those vaccinations as equivalent to the mRNA one? Even if they get the mRNA one which is claimed at 92% effectiveness, that means out of 1 million travelers, 80,000 would still be infectible and likely spread the virus. We need to avoid travel (I know that hurts) until enough of the world is immunized that Those 80,000 travelers have almost no one to spread it to. Probably have to limit travel to the industrialized countries for quite a while.

  3. Maybe the Chinese vaccine is good (?)
    As for me I will wait for one developed and produced by a western nation, US, UK. Germany, France, Canada etc.

  4. Only a fool would get this vaccine. Therefore, there will be a large number of people in line. It will consist of those individuals who somehow have failed to learn that this virus has a 99% survival rate.

  5. Is anyone seriously considering taking a Chinese vaccine?

    They can’t even produce dog food without killing our dogs…let alone a vaccine.

  6. @James N – 99% survival, if that is true – there are a LOT of dead people, does NOT mean you don’t spend a week or more in a hospital on a respirator. If the hospital has room for you 🙁

  7. @James N – enjoy spending 2021 in your basement!

    Is this still a “scamdemic” with a million cases in the last week in the US?

  8. @ Ryan, I think I already got the Moderna vaccine. I am in the Phase 3 trial, and from visiting with others, I think my mild but noticeable reaction makes it likely. A 92% reduction in my risk in getting COVID is absolutely worth getting the vaccine, and the sooner the better. When a vaccine is approved, I will request to be unblinded so I know for sure, and if I haven’t had it yet, I will be getting it Day One that it is available to me.

    Carrots and sticks. They should distribute a cash payment to everyone who gets the vaccine (the most worthwhile stimulus program possible since it attacks the problem itself) and for those who refuse, ban them from transportation (except private car), arenas, schools and universities, and any businesses that choose to protect their staff and customers, until herd immunity is achieved.

  9. @DaveS. I recommend the carrot for receiving a COVID-19 immunization should be a free domestic coach, American Airlines middle seat ticket.

  10. @Bob

    Long term efficacy for the Pfizer vaccine will take at least a year to prove. It won’t come from trials. That is true of all the vaccines being developed. Covid-19 mutates. We already know that as fact. I would still get the vaccine because it will offer some protection. But we should look at these vaccines as a first step towards normalcy.

  11. Having family and friends in the medical field for 30-40 years, safe, effective vaccines take a “minimum” of 3 to 5 years to develop. The rushed process of these co-19 vaccs spells big trouble and BIG red flags. A vaccine is just a way to push or kick start your natural biological process/ala immune system. Vaccines do not cure anything. Cases mean nothing and 98% of cases should not be getting tested, which means 3-7 tests per person and if one person tests pos 5X that is listed as “5 individual cases” for 1 person. Its all inflated on purpose for fear and control. Its also shows herd immunity is taking place and yes there is a 99.28% survivability rate for those 70 to 90 yrs old. And its over 99.5% for those 60 to 69, 99.74% from 40 to 60 and 99.86% 20 to 39. And 99.92% for those under 20. Fact: Regular seasonal flu is a covid, for which its vaccine is 32% effective. The common cold is also a covid, Folks, your all missing the fact that this is all for $$ and control to usher in the new world order. Regular influenza has a 85% survivability rate among 70-90 yr olds. This is flu 2- upper respiratory” version according to the well over 70 medical professionals I’ve spoken to. And hospitals are NOT overwhelmed. Mainstream media is all about lies and propaganda. The media told 1 lie to start Vietnam War. Theres total hypocrisy amount the media (for fear mongering) while they are maskless off camera, and politicians seem taking trips and going to private restaurants, etc because they feel entitled and therefore do not have to abide by the rules. Sad to see so many people worldwide being played like the dumb sheeple you all are. If flu season lasted 12 months, year round basically, thered be 130k-160k dying each year from just the flu. More than that die from car accidents alone, or suicide which is up 85% from this way overblown plandemic, I say plandemic because it was planned. Bill Gates admitted it, Dr Fouci gave hints 5 yrs ago, and 6 or 7 others did too. Medical malpractice takes over 700k lives a yr, And the total actual REAL number of those that died “just from cov” is around 145k, not 260k. You don’t close down the economy or world for a different kind of flu thats not crazy deadly. Deadly is a survivability rate of under 70%, not 99+%. Ypu don’t close it up for even a 90% rate. Its all locked down for the economic crash for the new world order. It is not about cov. Get it through your puny brains people. Masks and lockdowns/isolation have never worked in our history of 400 yrs of pandemucs/epidemics. It will spread at what ever speed it will, until it runs its course (usually 1.5 to 3 years), and then it will be gone. Problem is the last 8 viruses that came from China, keep comibg almost in a predicated 4-5 yrs in the last 30 yrs. That is very, very suspicious. Currently only 2 countries have labs to develop, contain or alter bad viruses: China and the US. I leave you all with this: If this was such a big bad thing, why isno one on the same page?, why not serious protocols in place? Why isn’t everyone wherein N98 or N100 masks? and why do left politicians allow protests (violent ones) buta small group of people properly distancing can’t go get a burger or steak at a small restaurant?? Why no distancing protocols on airlines where people are shoulder to shoulder with flimsy worthless masks not spreading anything? I could on and on. Its time to WAKE up people. This is about a socialist, communist new one world gov and total control by the elites. Our future is and has been written on the $1 dollar bill. Its also on the paper money in about 25 other nations. Keep masking up for more than 3 hrs per day and your all going to have a 40% reduced immune system, which has been winning the fight over diseases for 5 thousand years or more. 5g is a ccp technology that is used for spying on everyone. These ccp spies are in almost all companies in the US. If their English is not perfect, then need to be watched closely. We are under communist attack right under our noses.. 40 governor’s are in ccp pockets. As well as 500 of our 1300 mayor’s

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