Ontario has asked the federal government to ensure that Canadians who have received mixed COVID-19 vaccines are allowed international travel while lifting border measures.
Health Secretary Christine Elliott and Attorney General Sylvia Jones wrote to Intergovernmental Affairs Secretary Dominique LeBlanc and other federal officials on Sunday about the issue.
“We ask the Government of Canada to work with the World Health Organization to update its guidance to international partners that vaccine mixing should be internationally accepted as a complete vaccine regimen,” they wrote.
Ontario and other provinces have offered residents the option of taking a single dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine or the mRNA vaccine after the first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The counties offered a mixed choice this year as the country grapples with a shift in the supply of incoming vaccines and concerns about a rare but serious blood clot disorder linked to the AstraZeneca injection.
Watch | COVID-19: What we know about mixing vaccines
The ministers wrote that it was so important to the “safety” of vaccination programs that people who “did the right thing” by taking two doses of two different vaccines were considered immune abroad.
“As the federal government opens up international travel, we believe these Ontarians should be considered ‘fully immune’ by other countries both at international borders and in their activities within those jurisdictions,” they said.
They argue that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which has not been approved by the US Federal Drug Administration, should be considered internationally valid “on any certificate or passport”.
The letter notes that some EU countries are using a similar mixed-dose approach to vaccination, and said Ontario is looking forward to the results of talks with those countries and with the United States.
Concerns have been raised in recent weeks about the potential drawbacks for people mingling with COVID-19 footage.
The US has been reluctant to penalize the practice of following the Moderna dose with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, or vice versa, while many European countries do not recognize the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot made at the Serum Institute in India – which may affect Canadians who get it.
Several cruise lines have also said they will not accept customers who have received different types of vaccines or mixed brands at all.
Watch | Public Health Canada will work with international partners to ensure easy travel for Canadians with mixed doses of vaccine لقاح
In their letter on Sunday, Ontario ministers also raised the issue of border measures for international travelers as Canada plans to ease some travel restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.
Ottawa announced last week that fully vaccinated US citizens and permanent residents will be allowed to enter Canada without a 14-day quarantine starting August 9. Eligible travelers in other parts of the world will be allowed to enter without quarantine on September 7.
The rules apply to people who have received a full course of the COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada.
Jones and Elliott wrote to Ottawa about the “importance of ensuring effective measures at the border for those not yet fully vaccinated,” and demanded “implementation and effective” quarantine rules for unvaccinated travelers coming into the country.
They also called for a consistent approach to international travel across land, air and water borders and at all points of entry.
Ford says boycott certification is not required
Meanwhile, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said again Monday that he doesn’t think Ontario needs a vaccine adoption system.
“There’s no need for that,” Ford said, speaking in Ottawa. “So we’ll have 80 percent of people – hopefully – fully immunized and we don’t need them.”
He said it was up to the federal government to decide whether to create a vaccine passport for international travel, and if that happened, not to refuse.
A group of experts advising the Ford government on the pandemic said last week that the local proof of vaccination system would help speed up reopening and help prepare for a potential return in cases — something the Ontario chief medical officer said will likely happen in the fall.
Ford also reiterated Monday that he does not support mandatory vaccinations for health workers, noting that they already have high vaccination rates.
Professional groups representing Ontario registered physicians and nurses have publicly supported the mandatory vaccination of health care workers.
Provincial Liberals joined those calls on Monday, with their leader, Stephen Del Duca, calling for mandatory shots to be given to education and health workers and proof of a boycott of vaccination.
In a statement, Del Duca said Ford “is jeopardizing the reopening of Ontario by not planning ahead to prevent a fourth wave.”
Ontario reported 119 cases of COVID-19 on Monday and three deaths from the virus.
80% of adults in Ontario have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 67% receive a full vaccination.