Canadian travelers have been able to travel freely to the United States since the start of the pandemic, but new U.S. travel regulations announced on Monday have led some Canadians who have received two different doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to fear that access will befall them. be refused soon. .
From the beginning of November, the United States will need Foreign passengers entering the country must be fully vaccinated. The problem is, the United States has yet to agree to mix COVID-19 vaccines.
“I’m really concerned about this US policy,” said Kathy Heuser of Ancaster, Ont., Who has a dose of COVISHIELD (a trademark of AstraZeneca) and a dose of Pfizer. I booked a flight to Maui, departing November 7th.
“I don’t even know if I will be able to cross the border,” she said. “it is a problem.”
As the United States files its own vaccine requirements, the country lifts its travel ban for air travelers from List Dozens of countries with a red flag.
“We will establish strict protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by passengers traveling overseas to the United States,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday.
CBC News asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) if it Millions of Canadians With mixed vaccines, travel within the country is still permitted when the vaccination requirement goes into effect. The CDC said it was in the “regulatory process” phase to decide which vaccines would be accepted.
The agency also established its current policy: People are considered fully vaccinated if they have received all of the recommended doses of the same COVID-19 vaccine, such as Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca.
“Currently, the CDC does not recognize combination vaccines,” spokeswoman Kristin Nordlund said.
But there are exceptions to the rule. The CDC states 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.
“Customers 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 States cruise line on their website. “We continue to encourage the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other US government officials to reassess these policies. “
‘I started to cry’
The CDC said the United States is conducting trials on the safety and effectiveness of combination vaccines, and the agency may update the vaccine recommendations once it has new data.
But that doesn’t come as any comfort to mixed-dose Canadians who have already planned to travel to the United States, like the Snowbirds and those who have booked a winter vacation.
In May, Norma Schrupak of Orillia, Ont. Booked a special family trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands to celebrate her partner’s 75th birthday. The trip includes a week-long charter boat cruise in February – for $ 26,000.
The problem is that five of the ten family members who travel – including Chrobak and his partner – have a mix of AstraZeneca and Moderna.
“My heart almost exploded in my chest,” Schrupak said when she learned of the upcoming US vaccine requirements for travelers. “I started to cry.”
She has already made a deposit of $ 12,500 and, although she has purchased travel insurance, at this point Chrobak is not sure if she can get a full refund if she has to cancel the trip.
The cruise was intended as 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 Recommend mixing doses of the COVID-19 vaccine based on emerging research showing that it is safe and effective.
On Thursday, public health official Dr. Theresa Tam said Canada is in talks with the United States about the upcoming request for a vaccine for foreign air travelers.
“We have had a series of talks with our American colleagues,” she told a press conference. “We actually provided technical support to help them decide on the combined dose, specifically AstraZeneca followed by the mRNA vaccine.”
game of patience
Attorney Henry Chang, who specializes in immigration laws in Canada and the United States, said he was optimistic the United States will soon change its stance on mixed vaccines.
said Chang, who works with Toronto law firm Dentons.
If the United States does not give in to hybrid vaccines by November, some Canadians still have options. QuebecAt ManitobaAt Saskatchewan At Alberta Each will provide the third dose of the vaccine to people in their province who need it for travel.
But that doesn’t help potential travelers like Cherupak from Ontario, who will have to wait to hear the fate of his flight.
“I feel so devastated, I feel like I have no control,” she said.
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