Canadian travelers have been able to travel freely to the United States since the pandemic began, but new US travel regulations announced on Monday have some Canadians who received two different doses of the COVID-19 vaccine fear they may soon be denied access. .
From early November, the United States will require all foreign passengers entering the country to be fully vaccinated. The problem is that the United States has not yet agreed to mix COVID-19 vaccines.
“I’m really concerned about this US policy,” said Kathy Heuser of Ancaster, Ontario, which has one dose of COVISHIELD (a trademark of AstraZeneca) and one dose of Pfizer. I have a flight booked to Maui, that will leave on November 7.
“I don’t even know if I will be able to cross the border,” she said. “its a problem.”
At the same time that the United States is introducing its own vaccine requirements, the country is lifting its travel ban on air travelers from List Dozens of states with a red flag.
“We will establish strict protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by travelers traveling internationally to the United States,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.
CBC News asked the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) if this was the case Millions of Canadians With mixed vaccinations, travel to the country is still permitted when vaccination begins. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it is in the “regulatory process” stage of determining which vaccines will be accepted.
The agency also set its current policy: People are considered fully vaccinated if they have had all recommended doses of the same COVID-19 vaccine, such as Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca.
Currently, the CDC is not familiar with combination vaccines, said CDC spokeswoman Kristin Nordlund.
But there are exceptions to the rule. The CDC says on its website that mixed doses of two mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, are acceptable in “exceptional cases,” such as the unavailability of the vaccine used for the first dose.
However, a combination of AstraZeneca and an mRNA vaccine would not meet the requirements, a position taken by cruise ships departing from US ports.
“Guests whose regimen consists of two doses of one dose of mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) with one dose of AstraZeneca will not be considered,” Royal Caribbean Cruise line on their website. “We continue to encourage the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other US government officials to re-evaluate these policies.”
‘I started crying’
Canada is one of many countries – Including Germany, Italy, France and Thailand The entity that distributed the mixed vaccines to some of its citizens. But there is no international consensus on this practice.
The CDC said the United States is conducting trials on the safety and efficacy of combination vaccines, and the agency may update vaccine recommendations as soon as it has new data.
But that doesn’t comfort mixed-dose Canadians who have already made travel plans to the United States, such as Snowbirds and those who have booked winter vacations.
In May, Norma Schrupak of Orillia, Ontario booked a special family trip to the US Virgin Islands to celebrate her partner’s 75th birthday. The trip includes a one-week charter boat cruise in February – for $26,000.
The problem is that five out of ten family members who travel — including Chrobak and her partner — have a mix of AstraZeneca and Moderna.
“My heart almost exploded in my chest,” Schrupak said when she learned about the upcoming US vaccine requirements for travelers. “I started crying.”
She had already made a $12,500 deposit, and although she had purchased travel insurance, at this point Shruppak was unsure if she could get a full refund if she had to cancel the trip.
The cruise was a surprise birthday present for Chrobak’s partner. But she is talking about it publicly in the hope that the Canadian government will pressure the United States to accept mixed vaccines.
“Someone should take this bull by the horns,” she said. “There must be something that can be done.”
Canada has updated its vaccination guidelines in June Recommending mixing doses of the COVID-19 vaccine based on emerging research showing that it is safe and effective.
On Thursday, the chief public health official, Dr. Theresa Tam, said that Canada is in talks with the United States about the prospective demand for a vaccine for foreign air travelers.
“We’ve had a series of conversations with our American colleagues,” she said at a news conference. “We’ve already provided some technical support to help them decide on a combination dose, especially AstraZeneca followed by an mRNA vaccine.”
Attorney Henry Chang, who specializes in Canadian and US immigration law, said he is optimistic that the United States will soon change its stance on mixed vaccines.
said Chang, who works with the Denton law firm in Toronto.
If the United States does not surrender to hybrid vaccines by November, some Canadians still have options. Quebecemployment Manitobaemployment Saskatchewan employment Alberta Each will provide the third dose of the vaccine to people in their county who need it to travel.
But that doesn’t help would-be travelers like Cheropak in Ontario, who will have to wait to find out the fate of her flight.
“I feel so broken, I feel like I have no control,” she said.
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