If you're dreaming of stealing kisses under the Eiffel Tower or swimming in the aqua-blue waters of the Mediterranean sea, you might want to ensure you are vaccinated against COVID-19 first.
That said, even if you have been vaccinated, the Canadian government still advises against nonessential travel outside of the county. So until the advisory is lifted, it is in your best interests to stay put.
However, if the advisory is lifted in the not-so-distant future, international governments could alter their travel requirements for visitors--and one of the requirements could be that you provide proof of immunization.
According to Schengen Visa Info News, a European Union official had "confirmed that once the COVID-19 vaccine is confirmed and available for all, visa applicants would also be required to be vaccinated in the future."
Of course, no countries currently require proof of immunization--but that could change at any time. And even if travellers find a loophole in the requirements and manage to enter places such as the European Union, travel insurance providers are unlikely to cover travellers who aren't willing to roll up their sleeves.
Future travel requirements for insurance providers
Travel insurance is for unforeseeable circumstances, and InsuranceHotline.com’s insurance expert, Anne Marie Thomas, tells Vancouver Is Awesome in a phone interview that most insurance providers will likely update their policies to reflect new vaccine-related travel requirements in the future.
Right now, many insurance providers offer COVID-19 coverage in their policies, but as Thomas points out, not all policies are created equal.
Since the pandemic began, she says numerous companies have slashed their prices and offer coronavirus coverage at a reduced rate. However, many of the plans only cover up to $100,000 for COVID-19 coverage, which might not be enough.
"If you end up on a ventilator, $100,000 might not get very far," she notes.
A recent poll finds that a firm majority of Canadians--60 per cent of respondents--are willing to be immunized against COVID-19. However, many people said they want to wait a while before they roll up their sleeves, while 12 per cent won't do it.
For anyone looking to travel without being vaccinated, this could pose a problem down the line--especially for people purchasing travel insurance. While Thomas says it is possible that insurance providers may offer two different policies--one for those who are vaccinated and one for those who are not--she adds that the policies for those who aren't willing to be immunized may cost a great deal more or simply offer less coverage.
"Travel insurance is really set up for the unexpected. Nobody plans to break their leg, so that's unexpected. So a travel insurance provider will pay to get your leg fixed," she explains.
"But COVID-19? That's not a surprise to anybody. If you travel you are knowingly putting yourself at risk."
Vaccination for international travel
Qantas Airways, the largest airline in Australia, has already stated that it will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for all of its international air travellers. Korean Air has also hinted toward implementing the vaccine travel requirement.
Thomas notes that many countries in the world already require proof of vaccination against yellow fever, which includes numerous countries in Africa and South America. Travellers to these countries need a document called the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis as proof of vaccination. The required vaccine and the documentation are obtained in Canada at a yellow fever vaccination centre.
For proof of COVID-19 vaccination for international travel, it is unknown what that will look like--whether it will come in the form of a physical document or an online one.
For the time being, you will have the option to receive a paper and digital copy of your immunization record card. The Government of Canada recommends registering for Health Gateway, where you will be able to access your digital immunization record card.
Your immunization record will be also be stored in the online provincial database, accessible to you, public health and your doctor.
First and foremost, however, Thomas says that "unless it's essential, don't go. It's a nonessential travel advisory."
If you choose to travel despite these advisories, the Government of Canada highlights that:
- you may have difficulty obtaining essential products and services
- you may have limited access to timely and appropriate health care
- you may suddenly face strict movement restrictions and quarantines at designated facilities and at your own cost
- your insurance may not cover your travel or medical expenses
- we may have limited capacity to offer you consular services