Singapore Airlines is Vaccining for the Influenza

Singapore Airlines plans for a fully vaccinated crew on flights

(Bloomberg) From its first flight this month, Singapore Airlines is on the prowl for more than just money. For three decades, the first class cabin was packed with people who believed the airline should be giving them protection against the ravages of aging. Now that the Boeing 787 is cruising toward its first landing, it’s not just a way for passengers to travel between cities but a way to bring a little more protection into a business that’s been working on it for decades.

“We think everyone deserves to be vaccinated and protected,” said David Chen, who spent his early years with a local travel agency, when he was named vice president of sales and marketing for the airline’s airline divisions. “If it’s a new way to transport passengers, the first instinct is to figure out what the biggest market for that is [and] look at the market as a whole.”

Airlines are increasingly recognizing that they need to include passengers with the highest potential to spread diseases like swine flu, the threat that has re-ignited a debate over the role of air travel in the global spread of infectious diseases.

Like the airline industry, the U.S. healthcare system doesn’t know what it has in its own vaccine closet. While it’s working to improve the nation’s supply, it’s also faced a new challenge: More people seeking vaccination through new vaccines.

“All healthcare is shifting,” said David Hoberman, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Vanderbilt University. “We see a growing number of people seeking and receiving vaccines as part of the response to pandemic influenza, which is a real concern and one we need to take seriously.”

Singapore Airlines is among the handful of U.S. airlines with a vaccination program. But it’s the first one in Asia.

The airline uses the Vaccines for Asia program, set up in 2010 to help the region respond to epidemics. Singapore’s airline industry is also well prepared for the virus, taking part in a similar program, which it sees as a way to boost its own immune levels.


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