Canada may use vaccine passports at US border crossings

Windsor Detroit U.S. Canada
Posted at 7:23 AM, May 03, 2021

Canada's top health official has indicated that the country may institute a vaccine passport program for Canadians planning to leave the country.

On a Canadian radio show, CBC's "The House," Canadian Health Minister Patty Hajdu was asked whether Canada would be establishing a vaccine passport program for international travel, as has been discussed with other countries.

"Absolutely," Hajdu said. "First of all, Canadians need to be able to have the right kind of certification for international travel.”

It’s unclear how the policy would impact the border crossings between the U.S. and Canada, but the conversation is underway.

“I’m meeting on a regular basis with my G7 counterparts and this is an ongoing conversation about how that might look,” Hajdu said.

Hadju's comments come as the disparity in vaccine distribution between the U.S. and Canada continues to grow.

While the CDC reports that about one-third of the U.S. population is currently fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Canada has only vaccinated about 29% of its population with one dose, and just 2.5% have been fully vaccinated.

The disparity is even wider in border towns like Detroit and Windsor.

In Michigan, everyone 16 and older was eligible to be vaccinated beginning April 5. In Ontario, everyone won't be eligible until May 24.

“It's not open to everyone yet,” said Kari Sleiman, who lives just outside of Windsor.

Sleiman works in a retirement home and was one of the first Canadians to get vaccinated with both doses. Since then, things have changed. Her husband got his first dose last week, but his second is a long way away.

“His wait is 16 weeks," Sleiman said. "He has to wait until almost July until he can get his next vaccination.”

“Canada’s approach is somewhat different than the United States," Hajdu said on the radio show. "I would say our approach is much more in line with the UK approach, which is to get as many people that first dose as possible.”

In the meantime, Pfizer will begin sending doses from Michigan to Canada, in the hopes that Canadians will soon be able to get their first and second shots.

This story was originally published by Brett Kast on Scripps station WXYZ in Detroit.