(adds flight due to arrive in Los Angeles later)
By Brendan O’Brien
BAY CITY, Mich., July 27 (Reuters) – Singapore Airlines Group has told all crew on its Boeing 777-300 aircraft to receive skin vaccinations against swine flu, starting before the new year, according to its flight operations manual.
The airline’s guideline does not apply to the planes’ pilots or ground crews and does not say what percentage of crew had to be vaccinated, although an airline spokesman said the company expects most crew to get vaccinated.
Singapore’s beleaguered health minister said on Tuesday that at least 21 people, including passengers on two flights from Mexico with non-U.S. citizens, had become infected with swine flu on its own jets.
A Singapore Airlines spokesman said the airline does not know how many crew needed to be vaccinated or where the vaccine would be sent from.
On Monday, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that U.S. airports were gearing up to stop the spread of the illness which first appeared in the United States about two weeks ago.
Routine flu-testing laboratories are preparing to test air travelers as part of preparedness efforts in the event the virus strikes U.S. soil, the CDC said.
A Singapore Airlines flight due to arrive later on Monday at Los Angeles International Airport had no signs of swine flu, a Los Angeles County spokeswoman said.
The carrier’s chief executive, Goh Choon Phong, said the company had “no cause for alarm” about the outbreak of the new H1N1 virus.
“The extensive air quality testing undertaken by the airline and government has shown that our aircraft are clean and fit for purpose,” Goh said.
On Wednesday, a Singapore Airlines spokeswoman said three flight crew from the Aerolineas Argentinas carrier on a flight from Buenos Aires to Singapore had been tested for the H1N1 virus. (Editing by Cynthia Osterman)