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COVID-19: Air India vows to vaccinate all employees by May-end after ultimatum from pilots' union

Air India said that COVID-19 vaccination is expected to commence as early as next week and all employees will be vaccinated by the end of May.

May 05, 2021 / 08:40 AM IST
Air India said that discussions were already on to vaccinate all employees, including the crew, against COVID-19

Air India said that discussions were already on to vaccinate all employees, including the crew, against COVID-19

Following a stern ultimatum from the pilots' union, Air India on May 4 announced that it will vaccinate all its employees against COVID-19 by May-end.

The national carrier said that discussions were already on to vaccinate all employees, including the crew. "As the guidelines did not allow vaccination of persons below 45 years of age, Air India could not complete the vaccination," it said.

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"Since May 1 all persons above 18 years of age can be vaccinated, a schedule for vaccination is now being drawn up and it is expected to commence as early as next week and all employees will be vaccinated by the end of this month," Air India said, adding that a schedule is being drawn up keeping in mind crew who do not have fixed working days.

The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) had in a letter threatened to stop work if the airline management failed to start vaccination camps for the flying crew immediately.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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"If Air India fails to set up vaccination camps on a pan-India basis for the flying crew above the age of 18 years on priority, we will stop work," the union had said.

Read: Air India pilots' union threatens strike if members not vaccinated at the earliest

With no healthcare support to the flying crew, no insurance and a massive opportunistic pay cut, pilots are in no position to continue risking their lives without vaccination, their statement read.

Alleging that many crew members have tested positive for COVID-19 and are struggling to get oxygen cylinders, the ICPA said that the pilots are left to fend for themselves for hospitalisation.

Read | COVID-19: When should you get hospitalised? Health Ministry lists signs and symptoms

India has been badly hit by the second wave of coronavirus infections as hospitals in several states are reeling under a severe shortage of oxygen, drugs, equipment and beds.

On May 4, India's tally of COVID-19 cases crossed the 2-crore mark with over 50 lakh infections being added in just 15 days. The virus has claimed 2.22 lakh lives so far, as per health ministry's figures.

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first published: May 5, 2021 08:37 am

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