Despite COVID-19 vaccinations being at the forefront of our public conversation, there are still many other vaccinations being administered and vaccines required to travel internationally. For United Airlines flight attendants at Washington Dulles, that includes a more traditional vaccine required in order to work the carrier’s new flights to Africa.
United Airlines Mandates Vaccines…Yellow Fever Vaccines
Next month, United plans to resume service to Accra, Ghana after a multi-year hiatus. Later in the year, it plans to resume service to Lagos, Nigeria. Both flights will operate from United’s Washington Dulles hub.
Both countries require yellow fever vaccinations. Yellow fever is a disease caused by a virus that is spread through mosquito bites. Symptoms take 3–6 days to develop and include fever, chills, headache, backache, and muscle aches. In some cases, more serious side effects result.
Ghana and Nigeria require anyone entering the country to have a yellow fever vaccination certificate. Consequently, a memo to IAD-based flight attendants advised them that anyone wishing to work the new Accra flight next month would need a yellow fever vaccination.
Exceptions To Yellow Fever Vaccine For Flight Attendants
Although there are no exceptions for flight attendants wishing to serve ACC and LOS, several “contraindications” (exceptions) are available in which the yellow fever vaccination is not administered:
- Allergy to eggs, sorbitol, gelatin, or latex (permanent waiver)
- Prior allergic reaction to a yellow fever vaccination (permanent waiver)
- Pregnant (temporary waiver)
- Avoid attempting conception for 30 days following vaccination
- Breastfeeding (temporary waiver)
- Diagnosis of leukemia, lymphoma, other blood cancers, HIV or AIDS (permanent waiver unless treating physician clears)
- Treatment with radiation or chemotherapy for a solid tumor cancer within the past five years (temporary waiver)
- Taking oral steroids (prednisone, cortisone) greater than 10 mg a day for longer than two weeks (temporary waiver)
- Taking medication for arthritis or severe psoriasis that might suppress the immune system such as Methotrexate, Enbrel, or Humira (temporary waiver)
- For those over age 60, concern of yellow fever vaccine adverse reaction (permanent waiver)
- History of Thymus gland being removed or thymus problem, myasthenia gravis. DiGeorge syndrome or thymoma (permanent waiver)
- History of having received a live-virus vaccination within the previous 30 days such as MMR, chickenpox, shingles, oral polio, smallpox, or nasal flu vaccine (temporary waiver)
- History of a systemic immunosuppressive or neurological disorder such as systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, ankylosing spondylitis, or Guillain-Barre Syndrome (permanent waiver)
- Currently have an illness with a fever or acute infection (vaccination postponed until recovery)
But while these exemptions mean no vaccine, they also mean no travel to Africa on United. Will we see the same with COVID-19 vaccines one day for flight attendants who are unable or who choose not to get it?
But in a world in which we are seemingly only focused on the coronavirus, it seems almost archaic to talk about vaccines like yellow fever. But indeed, the world is filled with disease and virus.
My hope is that the COVID-19 vaccine will be as commonplace as the yellow fever vaccination, no big deal and a standard jab for those wishing to embark upon international travel.
image: United Airlines