Mixed doses a travel concern for Canadians as feds bring in vaccine passport

© Global News Files Digital vaccine passport app in mobile phone for travel during Covid-19 pandemic. The mobile phone and passport are on a suitcase.

With the federal government announcing a vaccine passport is in the works for international travel, David Doel wonders: What does it mean for mixed-vaccine recipients?

Speaking with Global News Thursday, the 35-year-old Toronto resident said he, like many other Canadians, received mixed doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

Doel got a shot of Pfizer-BioNTech and then Moderna in July, and wants Canada to convince certain countries to accept Canadians with mixed vaccines.

“There is no issue with mixing vaccines as far as the science goes so far,” he said. “I think Canada needs to clear that up.”

Video: Canada getting COVID-19 vaccine passport for international travel

On Wednesday, the government announced a vaccine passport for international travel is in the works.

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said at a news conference the vaccine certificate will be common across all provinces, and will include the holder’s COVID-19 vaccination history, the date they got their shot, the type of jab they received and where it was administered.

It will be available to all citizens, permanent residents and temporary residents living in Canada who are fully vaccinated.

As for a timeline, the passport will be ready to go “early this fall,” according to Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc.

Read more: Canada getting vaccine passport for international travel

In the meantime, the government will have to gather all the vaccination data from each province and territory in order to plug it into their new passport system and get it ready to go.

No other specific details were shared during the announcement, resulting in many unanswered questions while the federal government crafts its passport.

How it will work and what it will look like are unclear, but Martin Firestone said the announcement itself was “huge” for travellers.

“I think it’s at the point now where we will have a standardized format that at least my clients and travellers will have some peace of mind that they’ll know prior to going to a country that this passport will be accepted, that there’ll be no issues when they get there and it will basically let them know where they can go and where they can’t go,” said Firestone, president of travel insurance brokerage Travel Secure Inc.

“The mixed-vaccine scenarios are still going to be out there. The passport won’t necessarily alleviate that problem, but at least we’ll have an idea of what countries are accepting Canada’s passport system.”

Read more: Provinces divided on making use of COVID-19 vaccine passports. Here’s why

As the world reopens, not all countries are recognizing all mixed vaccines, which could potentially bar entry to millions of Canadians.

Trinidad and Tobago isn’t currently accepting travellers with a mix of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines but is allowing an AstraZeneca and Pfizer or Moderna mix.

Both Germany and France only accept a combination of AstraZeneca and Pfizer or Moderna as fully vaccinated and not two mRNA vaccines of different makes, meaning travellers must present a negative COVID-19 test to enter.

Barbados reversed its policy on July 15 to allow mixed vaccines after initially not accepting them.

Elsewhere in the Caribbean, Jamaica will accept anyone with two doses of a World Health Organization-approved vaccine, mixed or not, and Cuba and the Dominican Republic have no vaccine requirements.

Read more: Thinking of travelling? Here’s where mixed COVID-19 vaccines aren’t accepted

Canada needs to have these conversations with other countries as it develops its vaccine passport, said Dr. Omar Khan, professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Toronto.

“I think that’s going to be a conversation with other countries and jurisdictions that don’t do mixed vaccination and to let them know that this is what’s happening in Canada, you can see the evidence behind why it was done and then try to get that accepted,” he said.

“I think that’s the best way to go because otherwise, it’s going to be a challenge to have it recognized.”

Video: Pilot project underway in Quebec to test COVID-19 vaccination passport

Looking at the idea of a vaccine passport, Doel doesn’t mind it given that he was required to show proof of vaccination against Yellow Fever when travelling to Peru a few years ago.

“It wasn’t a big deal back then. I don’t see why it’s a big deal now,” he said.

“I think it makes sense. We have a deadly virus, (and) of course, you want to ensure that people are vaccinated, but I see no issue with it.”

— with files from Global News’ Jamie Mauracher and Eric Stober

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