Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is offering a little more clarity on the notion of a vaccine passport for international travel.
At an Ottawa news conference today, Trudeau suggested Canadians could begin travelling outside the country again by summer, and that Canada will align with other countries on any documents needed with some form of certification to prove vaccinations against COVID-19.
Trudeau said his government will work with other countries to create any needed travel documents.
“As people start to travel again, perhaps this summer if everything goes well, it would make sense for us to align with partners around the world on some sort of proof of vaccination or vaccine certification,” said Trudeau.
“We are now working with allies, particularly in Europe, on that [vaccine passports or documentation]. But ultimately it is up to every country to determine what requirements they expect from incoming travellers.”
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet said he supports the idea of a vaccine passport for international travel, but that the United States does not appear interested in going along with other countries on such documentation.
Talks of implementing a form or proof of vaccination have been long discussed across the country and its many provinces.
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An online Léger poll in early April suggested a deep divide among both Canadians and Americans when it comes to the idea of vaccine “passports.”
It found 52 percent of Canadian respondents supported showing proof of vaccination, compared with 43 percent of Americans.
Among U.S. respondents, 36 percent opposed the idea, compared with 33 percent of Canadians surveyed.
On that front, the dean of tropical medicine at Baylor University in Houston, Texas, is urging the U.S. to do more to help get Canadians vaccinated against COVID-19.
Vaccine expert Dr. Peter Hotez says he was shocked to discover recently that Canada’s vaccination rate has not kept pace with the U.S.
Hotez says the amount of doses Canada is asking for is so modest that “we should be able to do this in our sleep.”
Both Theresa Tam and Prime Minister Trudeau repeated today that the benefits of all four vaccines approved for use in Canada far outweigh the risks of not being inoculated.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) says Canadians who aren’t at high risk of COVID-19 may choose to wait until they can get a shot of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna because they don’t carry the remote risk of a new blood-clotting syndrome.
Tam says she understands that people may be frustrated or angry about changing advice on COVID-19 vaccines but adds that things change as science changes.
She says it’s better for Canadians to be informed of the different risks they face, compared with the benefits of using a vaccine.
“As benefits and risks await, these parameters could shift of a time and we can depend on NACI and our chief medical officers of health across Canada to take all of that into account as they provide vaccines to everyone.”