Fully vaccinated and ready to travel abroad? You might still face obstacles

When the federal government announced in early July that fully vaccinated Canadians traveling abroad could skip quarantine when they returned home, some travel hungry people began planning their vacations.

But traveling abroad during the pandemic is still complicated – and not yet recommended by the government.

Here’s what you need to know before planning your long-awaited trip.

Should I stay or should I go?

Since the start of the pandemic, the government has advised against non-essential travel abroad.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) told CBC News it has eased restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers because the COVID-19 situation in Canada has improved. But PHAC says the government is continuing not recommended international travel, as some countries currently have high infection rates and COVID-19 variants remain a concern.

PHAC also warns travelers could face problems if their international destination suddenly imposes a lockdown.

“Canadians could be forced to stay outside of Canada longer than expected,” spokeswoman Anne Génier said in an email. “Canadians should not depend on the Government of Canada for help with changes to their travel plans. “

Epidemiologist Nazeem Muhajarine recently canceled a trip to Mozambique due to a spike in cases in his home province of Saskatchewan and in his overseas destination. (University of Saskatchewan / HO)

Epidemiologist Nazeem Muhajarine suggests that Canadians consider the COVID-19 situation both at home and at destination before planning their trip.

“We have to be very careful,” said Muhajarine, professor of community health and epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan. “There are many places in the world where COVID-19 is still a threat. “

Muhajarine was due to fly to Mozambique this fall to work on a community health project. But he said he decided to cancel his trip because the two Mozambique and his province of origin currently have high COVID-19 infection rates.

“We’re in the middle of a fourth wave, a delta variant wave in Saskatchewan,” said Muhajarine. “I don’t think even though I’m fully vaccinated I should travel.”

Mixed vaccine problems

Like Canada, many countries now allow fully vaccinated travelers to ignore entry requirements related to the pandemic, such as mandatory quarantine and / or COVID-19 testing.

But travelers should make sure that the COVID-19 vaccine they have received is accepted in the country they plan to visit.

Some countries do not recognize people who have received mixed doses of vaccines as being fully immunized, a potential problem for the patient. millions of canadians who received injections of two different vaccines.

Canada says it is working with other countries to resolve these disputes.

And there has been progress. Barbados, England and North Ireland recently changed their policies to now accept mixed doses. However, the neighboring Republic of Ireland remains does not.

“We hope that will change very soon,” Tourism Ireland spokesperson Jocelyn Black told CBC News in an email.

John and Ingrid Whyte from Toronto are scheduled to fly to Florida in November to spend the winter at their condo in Naples, Florida. The snowbirds are waiting to see if the United States will accept them as fully vaccinated after receiving doses of two different vaccines. (submitted by Ingrid Whyte)

Although there are a few exceptions to the rule, the United States does not currently recognize mixed doses. The stance sparked concern when the United States announced last month that starting in early November, foreign air passengers entering the country must be fully immunized.

“I feel blinded,” said Ingrid Whyte of Toronto. She and her husband, John, each have one dose of COVISHIELD (a brand of AstraZeneca) and a second dose of Pfizer.

The snowbirds are due to fly to Florida on November 17, but now they fear they will not be able to enter the United States due to their mixed vaccines.

“We don’t really know what to make of the situation,” Whyte said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Friday evening that the U.S. will accept international visitors inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines authorized by U.S. regulators or the World Health Organization, which includes vaccines that have been administered in Canada but not in the United States, such as AstraZeneca-Oxford.

While it’s not clear whether this includes mixed doses, the CDC said it would release “additional advice and information as travel requirements are finalized.”

Meanwhile, Canada says it is providing the United States with data showing the effectiveness of mixing doses of the vaccine.

“We are working hard on it,” Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer, said at a press conference on Friday. “We left no stone unturned.”

Rather than wait, Whyte wants to solve her problem now by getting a third dose of the vaccine, so she would have two doses of the same vaccine.

“We are running out of time,” she said.

However, Ontario does not provide a third dose for travelers. The province said it was following federal guidelines that currently recommend giving a third dose only to certain people with weakened immune systems.

Despite the recommendation, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta each offers a third dose of vaccine to people in their province who need it for travel.

Nova Scotia says it will begin offering third doses on Oct. 15 to people who need them to travel for work.

What about travel insurance?

Travelers can now get COVID-19 medical coverage, but that will not cover all issues related to the pandemic.

Travel insurance broker Martin Firestone has said it is possible to get cancellation coverage in case you get COVID-19 and need to cancel your trip. But he said you likely won’t be covered if you cancel your plans for other pandemic-related reasons, as COVID-19 is now a “known” issue.

“If your reason is a stop, a fifth wave or a sixth wave or a seventh wave, you’re out of luck,” said Firestone, who works for Travel Secure in Toronto.

Upon returning to Canada after their trip, travelers must show proof a negative COVID-19 test. Firestone also warns that some COVID-19 medical coverage plans do not include costs incurred if you test positive and must stay longer at your destination.

Firestone said this type of coverage, known as trip interruption insurance, typically has a daily cap. Therefore, even if you buy it, you may not be covered for all of your expenses.

“You could stay in a hotel for $ 1,000 a day, that doesn’t mean they’re going to cover your hotel costs for 14 days,” he said. “All that any of these products could do is offset some of your costs.”

WATCH | Trudeau explains the vaccination mandates for federal workers, air and rail passengers:

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Federal workers must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of the month or be forced on unpaid leave. Other new rules are also being introduced, such as compulsory vaccination for all air, rail and sea travelers from October 30. 4:47

Canada again not recommended all cruise ship trips. As a result, many insurers will not offer COVID-19 medical coverage to cruise ship passengers.

Will McAleer, executive director of the Canadian Travel Medicines Association, says at least a few providers offer this type of coverage to vaccinated travelers – and no cruise ship passenger should leave home without she.

“If I get sick, I could talk about an air evacuation by helicopter from the front of the ship at sea to a port, to an air ambulance, to a center that can take care of me,” he said. declared. “So it could be quite complicated and expensive.”

McAleer said all travelers should do extensive research before purchasing their insurance plan to ensure they have the right protection during the pandemic.

“Purchases [around] is the key for consumers at this point. “


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