Fully fortified and ready to travel? Before booking your flight, make sure your destination is familiar with your COVID-19 vaccine. As some Canadian travelers have already discovered, not all COVID-19 vaccines are created equal.
Here are the latest vaccines distributed in Canada that may cause problems for travelers abroad.
Mixed Dosing Problems
Some countries will not recognize travelers with mixed doses of vaccine as having been fully vaccinated, which can create problems for Millions of Canadians whose doses do not match.
The problem first came to light when travelers with mixed doses, including Chris Storey, of London, Ont., discovered it.
It’s so frustrating, it’s ridiculous,” Storey told CBC News earlier this month.
However, Then Barbados reversed its policy To identify travelers with mixed doses.
But nearby Trinidad and Tobago hasn’t changed it yet Mixed Vaccine Policy. The state will only allow visitors with a mix of AstraZeneca and Pfizer to skip quarantine. No other group is recognized there.
The government of Trinidad and Tobago did not answer questions about the reasons for its policy.
The position of the United States on mixed doses
The United States also does not approve of mixing COVID-19 vaccines — with some exceptions.
“COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable,” CDC spokeswoman Yasmine Reed said in an email. The safety and efficacy of receiving two different COVID-19 vaccines have not been studied.
However, several international studies have explored the efficacy of mixing doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and so far suggest that it generates a strong immune response.
The CDC accepts Mixed doses of two mRNA vaccinesand Pfizer and Moderna, in “exceptional cases,” such as the unavailability of the vaccine used for the first dose.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) public denial of mixed vaccines will not affect Canadians entering the United States by air, as they only have to provide evidence of Negative COVID-19 test.
But those with mixed doses could find themselves denied land travel if the United States imposed a vaccination requirement when it reopened its side of the Canada-US land border to travelers.
The CDC’s situation is already causing problems for some Canadians who have booked cruises that dock in the United States
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) does not recognize people with any type of mixed dose as being fully vaccinated. Many other cruise lines They do not recognize those who have had a combination of AstraZeneca and the mRNA vaccine.
Bryan Holgate, of Osoyoos, BC, is booked for a transatlantic cruise on NCL in November. But Holgate said he will have to cancel next month – when full payment is due – if the cruise line maintains its current vaccine policy.
“We have one final payment at the end of September — and we’re talking about $20,000,” said Holgate, who owns a mix of Pfizer and Moderna.
“[NCL] He says emphatically, categorically, that the Pfizer-Moderna blend is unacceptable. This… took my breath away.”
Watch | Travelers with mixed vaccinations say they can’t board some cruises:
Canadians taking mixed doses may also be denied entry to certain places in the United States where state rules require proof of vaccination.
Large scale indoor concerts In New York City next month—such as The Eagles and An Evening with Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett—require members of the public to be fully vaccinated.
The New York State Department of Health said it is following CDC guidelines and does not consider people who have had the combination of AstraZeneca and the mRNA vaccine fully vaccinated — at least not at this time.
“It is important to keep in mind that CDC COVID-19 vaccine recommendations may be subject to change in the future as additional data becomes available,” department spokeswoman Samantha Fuld said in an email.
Europe and AstraZeneca COVISHIELD
Canadians heading to Europe who got one copy of the AstraZeneca vaccine may face a different problem.
Europe agreed Vaxzevria, the European-made version of AstraZeneca, however, has not yet authorized COVISHIELD, the Indian-made version of the same vaccine.
Thus, Canadian visitors to those countries who have received this vaccine cannot take advantage of the perks offered to travelers who have been fully vaccinated, such as exemption from quarantine or testing for COVID-19.
More than 80,000 Canadians Take at least one dose of COVISHIELD.
Fortunately for these Canadians, the list of European countries accepting the vaccine is growing. According to the BBC, many popular destinations, such as SpainAnd Greece And IcelandCOVISHIELD accepted. France Join the pack last week.
UK too Get to know COVISHIELD. However, fully vaccinated Canadians traveling to the region are still required to quarantine – no matter what type of vaccine they have. Although the UK excused now Americans and Europeans were fully vaccinated from quarantine, except that the same privilege was not granted to Canadians.
“We are taking a phased approach to resuming international travel while protecting public health,” a Department for Transport spokesperson said in an email.
Will the rules change?
An infectious disease doctor in Regina, Dr. Alexander Wong, says Canadians shouldn’t get too preoccupied with differences in vaccine acceptance.
“Obviously the world is going to have to figure something out,” he said. “People will kind of need to be a little patient.”
The Canadian government says it is working with its international counterparts to resolve differences in vaccines.
“Over the coming weeks and months, there may be reviews submitted by health authorities around the world regarding these vaccine regimes,” Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominique LeBlanc said at a press conference last week.
In June, the Canadian National Immunization Advisory Committee (NACI) She changed her vaccination guidelines To overlook mixing of COVID-19 vaccines, based on emerging research that found mixing AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines was safe and effective.
Wong thinks the US will soon bend its stance on mixing vaccines, too.
“Given, for example, the United States and Canada, and how important those boundaries are, I think it will be determined sooner rather than later,” he said.
Wong also expects the COVISHIELD issue to be resolved soon, because there is no difference between it and the AstraZeneca vaccine made in Europe.
“It’s literally the exact same thing,” he said. “It happens to be manufactured in India.”
How about getting a third dose?
this week, Quebec government It stated that it offers a third dose of vaccine to people who have a planned base trip to a country that does not recognize their vaccination status.
“People affected by these exceptional situations will be informed about the importance of receiving an additional dose according to their condition and needs,” Quebec Department of Health spokeswoman Marjorie Laroche said in an email.
CBC News asked Public Health Canada (PHAC) to take a third dose. The agency responded that the NACI – which advises the primary health care center – is not making recommendations on vaccination requirements for travel.
“Canadians are reminded to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada,” PHAC spokeswoman Ann Jenner said in an email. “Now is not the time to travel.”