FAA Approves Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine (Updated)


The FAA has approved the Johnson & Johnson “one-shot” COVID-19 vaccine for pilots and others who “perform safety sensitive duties.” Previously, the agency had approved the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines and, as with those, the J&J alternative carries a brief waiting period before resuming duties. The approval came on the same day the FDA issued emergency approval for the vaccine.

According to the FAA, “To maintain the highest level of safety in the National Airspace System, the FAA will require the affected recipients of this single-dose vaccine to wait 48 hours before conducting safety sensitive aviation duties, such as flying or controlling air traffic. The waiting period, which accounts for potential side effects, applies to those holding an Airman Medical Certificate issued under 14 CFR Part 67 or a Medical Clearance issued under FAA Order 3930.3C.” For commercial pilots and controllers, the one-dose vaccine carries the added incentive of not needing a second shot and an additional 48-hour waiting period.

What’s more, pharmaceutical company Merck announced today that it will be teaming with rival Johnson & Johnson to produce the new vaccine. In a briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “The U.S. government will facilitate this partnership in several key ways, including invoking the Defense Production Act to equip two Merck facilities to the standards necessary to safety manufacture the vaccine and asking the Department of Defense to provide daily logistical support to strengthen Johnson & Johnson’s efforts.”

“The FAA’s continued, rapid response to COVID vaccination availability will ensure that business aviation pilots have as much flexibility as possible for receiving one of the three vaccine variants,” said Doug Carr, NBAA’s vice president for regulatory and international affairs. “We commend the FAA for its continued partnership with our sector, not just on vaccines, but on a host of considerations our industry has confronted in this highly challenging pandemic moment. The agency’s leadership in providing a number of vaccine options ensures pilots aren’t forced to choose between job security and personal health.”

According to CDC data, more than 51 million people have received at least one vaccination, amounting to just less than 16 percent of the population; around 26 million have been fully vaccinated, amounting to just under 9 percent of the population. Some 102 million doses have been delivered and more than 78 million doses administered.

Marc Cook
KITPLANES Editor in Chief Marc Cook has been in aviation journalism for more than 30 years. He is a 4000-hour instrument-rated, multi-engine pilot with experience in nearly 150 types. He’s completed two kit aircraft, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Sportsman 2+2, and currently flies a 2002 GlaStar.

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  1. Does anyone know that when vaccine studies are done, NO ONE is given the virus to test it. Check for yourselves!

    • Surely you are aware that a major part of the Clinical Trial protocol is to monitor the two groups (experimental and control) and observe the number of patients who contract the disease _naturally_, so that the two groups are compared. They don’t _give_ anyone the virus, but they allow it to occur in normal course. That is how it is tested. When a sufficient number of the placebo group (control) show infection, the two populations are compared; that is how the effectiveness of 95% is determined – when the vaccine group has only 5% as much infection as the placebo group.
      That is the normal procedure for clinical trials. The effectiveness IS tested.

        • Umm, yeah? Unless you’re saying a Boeing 737, for example, shouldn’t be certified unless it’s flown into the ground with 200 people on board so we can count how many survived.

          Instead you do your best to make the aircraft crashworthy, then measure how many people survived during natural crashes and make fixes.

          Welcome to the whole point of the NTSB.

          • I would like to see the makers and sellers of these vaccines work for a week in the Covid ward of an hospital without any protection other than their vaccine.

  2. Your numbers of people vaccinated and % of population don’t make sense if referring to the USA.