Alberta travellers with a mix of COVID-19 vaccines not allowed in some countries

When Albertans started receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations about seven months ago doctors didn't anticipate the possibility that fully-vaccinated people might ever have problems travelling and yet, that is happening.

Dr. Daniel Gregson is an associate professor in the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary specializing in infectious disease and microbiology who says health officials didn't know what was going to happen with vaccines.

"We knew that we were going to have different vaccines that were going to be effective," said Gregson. "We didn't anticipate that some jurisdictions, especially this AstraZeneca not being approved in United States, I mean that's moderately immoral because they're producing vaccines for the rest of the world."

Gregson says health officials in Canada didn't do anything wrong by mixing doses.

"From the scientific data, absolutely not," said Gregson. "The data suggests that if you've got a Pfizer dose after AstraZeneca that your antibody levels are just as good as if you got two doses of Pfizer but you know other countries are like other people's houses, you can't go into them without following their rules so you're sort of stuck from that perspective."

Terri Jo Lennox, the president and travel advisor with Travel Time, said agents in Calgary are fielding a number of call from clients who are confused about vaccination rules right now around the world.

"Certainly cruising was the first to come out and really draw attention to it," said Lennox. "Several cruise lines do not allow mixed vaccinated passengers to sail so it's creating havoc in that we're changing, counseling and postponing (trips)."

Quebec has made the decision to offer a third dose to people in that province who want to travel internationally but Alberta  health minister Tyler Shandro said via Twitter that isn't the case in this province.

I want to be clear: no decision has been reached on offering third doses yet in Alberta.

Dr. Hinshaw has advised that there is limited evidence at this time and Quebec is the only province currently issuing a third dose for travellers. 1/3 https://t.co/z7bj3facIB

— Tyler Shandro (@shandro) July 28, 2021

"We are looking at this closely, the Alberta Advisory Committee on Immunization has been asked to discuss this issue and to make a recommendation for individuals with mixed doses travelling to a country that requires two doses of a specific vaccine," the tweet reads. "I want to be clear: no decision has been reached on offering third doses yet in Alberta. Dr. Hinshaw has advised that there is limited evidence at this time and Quebec is the only province currently issuing a third dose for travellers."

Karen Cherry is finishing a mountain vacation with Michelle Moore. Both have plans to travel internationally again but Cherry has two different vaccines.

"So now I have to look into getting that booster shot or one of the two that I've gotten already to make me eligible," she said.

When it comes to a third dose, Dr. Gregson isn't sure they should be provided for travellers.

"Is it better to vaccinate a few people three times or more people twice and I think probably the latter is the better answer from a global perspective," said Gregson. "Because people are going to be traveling and if you're going to travel to a place where people have not been immunized, you're still at risk."