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'Please be patient': Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses mixed coronavirus vaccines and travel

Several countries have stated that they will not allow travellers with mixed vaccines

British Columbians who received two different COVID-19 vaccines and are concerned about travelling abroad may have some answers in the coming weeks. 

Numerous Canadians received a dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine after getting a dose of AstraZeneca first. In July 2021, an analysis of that data by The Canadian Press shows at least 627,000 people got AstraZeneca first and then opted for either Pfizer or Moderna

But several countries, including the United States, have stated that they will not allow travellers with mixed vaccines — and some cruise lines will not permit them, either. As well, Oxford-AstraZeneca is not on the list of approved vaccines in many places. 

In a press briefing on Tuesday (Oct. 5), provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters that the Canadian government is working with the U.S. Centeres for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure that highly effective combinations are recognized. 

"So please be patient," she urged. 

B.C.'s top doctor also thanked locals who didn't hesitate to roll up their sleeves and took the first vaccine that was made available to them. 

"For those who have taken AstraZeneca, who've taken the vaccine that was offered to you that and the first opportunity... You did the right thing and I thank you for doing that," she said. "It has made a tremendous difference in the transmission of the virus, and in protecting both yourself and your family and your community."

Canada is working with the provinces and territories to develop a COVID-19 vaccine passport for international travel, which Henry noted will include recognition of vaccine combinations. 

In addition to the United States, B.C. health officials continue to work on recognizing mixed vaccines with the United Kingdom, the European Union, and several sun destinations that Canadians visit, including Mexico and the Caribbean, she added. 

"This is changing rapidly and we know that we will have updates on this in the coming weeks. I will also say that the [World Health Organization] is reviewing data on mixed and matched combinations because it is important for the global pandemic response as well."

Canadians travelling outside of the country should check vaccination requirements at their destination, prior to travel. Other countries determine if or what type of proof of vaccination is required and the related benefits that may be provided such as reduced or no testing or quarantine requirements.

Canadians should always check the Government of Canada’s website for travel advice and advisories, as well as the entry and public health requirements of their destination country, before booking a trip.

With files from the Canadian Press