RCAF COVID-19 vaccination

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

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General information

1. Will there be any restrictions placed on my day to day job if I don’t get the vaccine?

There will not necessarily be any further restrictions on day to day jobs other than what has already been put in place related to the Public Health measures for COVID-19. However, having more vaccinated people within our community and workplace will expedite the relaxation of Public Health measures. 

2. How will Public Health measures for COVID-19 be applied if in a group of people working in close proximity, when some have been vaccinated and others not?

In the short term, Public Health measures such as physical distancing, mask wearing, and frequent hand washing will still be applied until enough people are vaccinated to prevent the spread of the disease.

3. Where can I book an appointment to get vaccinated?

Someone from your local area, either local Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Health Centre or Chain of Command will be contacting you with vaccination appointment information when it is your turn to be vaccinated. For more information on vaccine priority groups, please see the CAF Surgeon General’s message.

Operations, exercises and missions

1. Will I be able to deploy domestically and internationally, participate in exercises or other missions if I’m not vaccinated?

Like other vaccines provided to CAF members, the COVID-19 vaccine will not be mandatory; this remains a voluntary option for all. Whether or not a vaccine will be made a requirement for an operation, an exercise or other missions is a decision to be made by operational commanders, in consultation with their medical advisors. However, CAF members may require proof of a COVID-19 vaccination in order to operate in certain high-risk environments or with vulnerable populations. Certain countries may also elect to alter their border entry quarantine and testing requirements based on vaccination status. The intent remains to protect the CAF, and to protect others in order to maintain operational effectiveness as we serve Canada and Canadians at home and abroad.

2. What about on Christmas flights? Will vaccine be mandatory for anyone working or flying on those flights? And if you can’t guarantee everyone will be vaccinated, will you pay for me to take my personal vehicle instead? 

Policies regarding vaccine requirements on Christmas flights and/or reimbursement of personal vehicle (POV) costs will be a command decision. All eligible CAF members are strongly encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves and the people they come into contact with.

3. How will you ensure the public’s safety during OP LENTUS or similar evacuations using RCAF aircraft if not all aircrew are vaccinated?

As a result of the required travel that they do, the vast majority of aircrew recognize the value of vaccination, given that they have been at a higher risk of getting the disease since the beginning of the pandemic by virtue of their trade. All eligible CAF members are strongly encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves and the people they come into contact with, when it becomes available to them. 

Aircrew

1. I’m aircrew/Aerospace Control. If I get a COVID-19 vaccine, am I grounded? If so, for how long?

Aircrew will be automatically grounded for a period of 48 hours after each dose of their COVID-19 vaccination and then may return to flying without seeing an aviation medical practitioner, provided any adverse effects have fully resolved at that point. If the

Aircrew/Aerospace Control member continues to have minor side effects known to be associated with the vaccine, (eg, sore arm, mild headache or chills, etc) beyond 48 hours, they can continue to self-ground until 72 hours after vaccination without having to see a Flight Surgeon or Basic Aviation Medicine Provider prior to returning to flying status. Any adverse effects that are severe, not known to be associated with the vaccine, or that persist beyond 72 hours, will necessitate that an aviation medical practitioner assess the aircrew to determine a safe return to flying plan.

2. Does it matter which vaccine I get as an aircrew member?

It does not matter which authorized vaccine a person receives. The best vaccine for you is the one that is available. All authorized vaccines in Canada are safe and effective. Most eligible CAF members will receive the Moderna vaccine.

3. I’m an aircraft technician. Am I still allowed to work on aircraft or safety systems after I’ve received a vaccination?

Yes, receiving a vaccination will not normally affect the ability of a technician to safely continue their work. A small number of people may have more relatively severe temporary effects, in which case units can provide two days of excused duties without need for medical review when a member is ill, per usual CAF practice. To reduce the risk that a unit will have multiple members who are affected by side effects, they can consider limiting the number of people who get vaccinated at the same time. For example, have no more than 1/3 of their members get vaccinated each week.

4. Are members of the search and rescue community forced to get the vaccine?

Like other vaccines provided to CAF members, the COVID-19 vaccine will not be mandatory; this remains a voluntary option for all. Whether or not a vaccine will be made a requirement for a search and rescue mission or exercise is a decision to be made by operational commanders, in consultation with their medical advisors. However, CAF members may require proof of a COVID-19 vaccination in order to operate in certain high-risk environments or with vulnerable populations. The intent remains to protect the CAF, and protect others to maintain operational effectiveness as we serve Canada and Canadians at home and abroad.

5. Are there any side-effects that might impact someone who is flying or supporting flying operations?

The reported side effects that followed vaccine administration in clinical trials were generally mild or moderate. They included reactions like pain at the site of injection, body chills, feeling tired and feeling feverish. These are relatively common side effects of vaccines due to the body’s appropriate immune response to the vaccine and do not pose a risk to a member’s health. As with all vaccines, there is a chance that there will be a serious side effect, such as an allergic reaction, but these are rare and the reason for waiting at least 15 minutes before leaving the vaccination clinic where treatment is readily available. The vast majority of adverse effects which do occur will resolve within a couple of days, therefore, they should not normally impact flying operations beyond the initial grounding period noted above.

Workplace

1. Will my chain of command be informed if I am vaccinated or not and under what circumstances would that medical information be provided to them?

Individual vaccination decisions will not be shared with chain of command (CoC). The CoC will, however, receive aggregate group data on vaccination uptake for their Wing/Base. That being said, if a specific operation or tasking is determined to require the vaccination based on evidence and medical input, or a foreign country requires proof of vaccination for entry, the member may not be able to participate as their medical status would be red according to Departure Assistance Group (DAG) administration, although the specific details of vaccination status would not be shared with the CoC. At this time the COVID-19 vaccination does not form part of the ARV process, though this will be reassessed if COVID becomes endemic. 

RCAF family

1. Will my military medical care be affected if I get sick from COVID-19 and I chose not to vaccinate?

A member’s military medical care will not be affected. Canadian Forces Health Services will provide quality health care for all members of the CAF regardless of vaccination status.

2. What about my family or civilian members at work, can they be vaccinated when I am?

Vaccines for civilian family members and Defence Team members of the Department of National Defence are the legislated responsibility of the respective provincial or territorial health systems where they reside. Provisions have been made for exceptional operational circumstances where the CAF vaccine supplies may be made available to certain civilians in very specific situations, with Ministerial authorization. However, this will not be a common or routine scenario. Information on vaccination bookings for family members and civilians working in defence can be found on provincial and territorial websites.

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Surgeon General’s message

Surgeon General’s message

You can read more about the priority groups and the vaccine roll out in this message from the Surgeon General.

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