pilots

Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International airport in Toronto in October. On Friday, The Associated Press reported on stories circulating online incorrectly asserting that Canada prohibits vaccinated pilots from flying. But, Canada’s transportation agency allows pilots to receive any vaccine that has been approved by the country’s health regulator, Health Canada, according to Transport Canada Senior Communications Adviser Sau Sau Liu.

THE FACTS: Canada’s transportation agency allows pilots to receive any vaccine that has been approved by the country’s health regulator, Health Canada, according to Transport Canada Senior Communications Adviser Sau Sau Liu.

All four COVID-19 vaccines available in Canada — vaccines made by Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca — went through extensive clinical trials, were found to be safe and effective and were authorized for use by Health Canada. Therefore, pilots are allowed to get the vaccines.

The false claim started with a screenshot of a 2020 webpage from Transport Canada. Text on the page stated that while Transport Canada Civil Aviation Medicine “places no restrictions or limitations on vaccines approved by Health Canada, it remains the general position of TC CAM that participation in medical trials is not considered compatible with aviation medical certification.”

The screenshot circulated on Twitter, Facebook and various Canadian websites and message boards with claims that Canada had banned pilots from flying if they were vaccinated for COVID-19. Twitter users claimed the COVID-19 vaccines were categorized as medical trials.

But, receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is not grounds for pilots to be blocked from flying in Canada, nor are the vaccines considered medical trials, according to Liu. The outdated screenshot circulating online is a relic from early in the pandemic, when pilots were asking Transport Canada if they could take part in early-stage COVID-19 vaccine trials, Liu said.

At that time, the agency reminded pilots that participation in medical trials typically is not considered compatible with aviation certification.

“Now that Health Canada has approved the vaccines, the comment regarding medical trials is less relevant,” Liu said. The webpage has been updated to clarify that pilots won’t be grounded or denied certification for getting one of the four COVID-19 vaccines approved by Health Canada.