Rumours of airlines discussing a potential ban on vaccinated passengers due to blood clot risks appear to be baseless. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the trade association that represents 290 airlines worldwide or 82% of the world’s total air traffic, told Reuters it was not aware of any airlines considering such action.

The posts ( here , here , here ), which appear to be a screenshot of a tweet from May 27 (here) say, “Airlines are meeting today to discuss the risks of carrying vaxed passengers due to the risk of clots and the liabilities involved. Oh the irony only the non vaxed can fly.” The person who posted the original tweet provided no evidence to support the claim, saying they could not reveal who their source was (here).

ADVERTISEMENT

As laid out in a Reuters explainer here international drug regulators have said the benefits of using COVID-19 vaccines developed by Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca outweigh risks as they investigate reports of extremely rare, but potentially fatal blood clots.

“IATA is not aware of any airlines considering denying vaccinated passengers due to the blood clot risk,” Anaelle Ashong, Corporate Communications Assistant at IATA (www.iata.org/en/about/) told Reuters via email.

“We advocate that people who have been vaccinated should be free to travel without restriction,” she added (here).

ADVERTISEMENT

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends here and here that people do not travel domestically and internationally until they are fully vaccinated as fully vaccinated people are less likely to get and spread COVID-19.

The CDC explains here that deep vein thrombosis can be a serious risk for some long-distance air travellers. They say blood clots can form in the deep veins of people’s legs during travel because people are sitting still in a confined space for long periods of time.

However, flying is not known to increase the vaccine-induced blood clot risk as flying can provoke a different type of blood clot, according to several health experts contacted by Reuters.

ADVERTISEMENT

Dr Sue Pavord, Consultant Haematologist at Oxford University Hospitals and co-chair of the British Society for Hemaetology’s Obstetric Haematology Group, (here) told Reuters via email, “VITT (Vaccine induced Thrombosis and Thrombocytopenia) is an immune reaction to vaccine and is not provoked by flying.”

Dr Gregory Poland, head of the non-profit Mayo Clinic’s vaccine research unit, (here), told Reuters via email, “Flying alone can increase the risk of venous clots. The adenoviral vectored vaccines increase the risk of clots, but by a separate mechanism, and I know of no interaction."

Medical experts at Meedan’s Health Desk (meedan.com/project/health-desk) said, “There is no evidence that air travel can increase the risk of blood clots in people who have received COVID-19 vaccines.”

ADVERTISEMENT

They explain in detail here that blood clots developed while flying, usually deep vein thrombosis, are “much different” from the clots among the vaccinated, which “occur in unique and unusual areas.”

VERDICT

False. There is no evidence that airlines met to discuss the blood clot risk for vaccinated passengers. Several medical experts told Reuters there is no evidence to show that flying increases vaccine-induced blood clot risk.

ADVERTISEMENT

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .

ADVERTISEMENT