Trudeau says AstraZeneca recipients will ‘not be disadvantaged’ when they travel

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today his government is working with the U.S. and other international partners to ensure that AstraZeneca vaccine recipients face few barriers when they travel abroad.

Trudeau’s commitment comes at a time when some U.S. venues are already suggesting they will only allow people who’ve been fully vaccinated with a United States Food and Drug Administration-approved product — the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines — to attend certain events unencumbered.

While AstraZeneca shots are made at some U.S. facilities, the FDA has never approved it for use in the American marketplace.

Bruce Springsteen performs at Stand Up For Heroes in New York on Nov. 1, 2016. People who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine will not be permitted to attend Springsteen’s upcoming show in New York. (Greg Allen/Invision/The Associated Press)

Some private entities, like Broadway shows and TV production studios, have signalled they will keep AstraZeneca recipients out. Right now, the U.S. government isn’t requiring proof of vaccination to travel across its border.

U.S.-bound air travellers, including those who are fully vaccinated, are required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, or recovery from COVID-19 in the past three months, before they board a flight.

Health Canada maintains the AstraZeneca shot is safe and effective, but the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) said Thursday that the mRNA products from Pfizer and Moderna are “preferred” and people should opt for one of those shots for their second dose.

Canada working to get U.S. ‘on the same page’ — Trudeau

Trudeau — who received the AstraZeneca vaccine himself — said discussions with other countries on how they will treat those who’ve had a dose of that product are still ongoing.

“We will definitely make sure that people who got one or two AstraZeneca doses will not be disadvantaged when they want to travel,” he said in French.

“We hope to be able to resolve those issues in the coming weeks in time for bringing in loosened restrictions around travel. The U.S. hasn’t said yet what their criteria will be. We’re working with them to get on the same page.”

For now, most foreign travellers will be kept out of Canada — the government extended the Canada-U.S. border closure Friday until July 21 at the earliest — because not enough people here are fully vaccinated, Trudeau said.

To ease future international travel, Canada is working on a vaccine passport program, he said.

Canadians and permanent residents will soon be able to upload a copy of their vaccine certificates to the ArriveCAN app, which will allow them to bypass mandatory hotel quarantine when they return. All returning travellers must still self-isolate for 14 days.

In the “medium-term,” Trudeau said, there will be a more formal federal program tied to provincial health records which will give border guards access to vaccination records. Canada wants to harmonize this program with other countries to ease foreign travel.

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