Dr. Henry says officials working to have mixed-vax recognized internationally


A B.C. health official said consultations have begun between the federal government and public health representatives in other countries in an effort to address issues Canadian travellers may face with their current provincial-level vaccine passports.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday, Dr. Bonnie Henry said work is underway to make sure systems meant to provide proof of vaccination are recognized outside the country.

The provincial health officer said members of Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada are "actively" involved in the plan.

She noted a lack of consistency across Canada and outside the country, and said that work is being done to create a single recognized vaccine passport that includes the recognition of combinations of vaccine.

Some travellers have had issues with the fact that their first and second shots were different brands – for example, a person may have been given an AstraZeneca shot first, but received the vaccine made by Pfizer as their next dose.

While considered fully vaccinated here, some vaccines used in Canada are not recognized in other countries around the world.

"All of Canada's vaccines are highly effective in every combination that we have… For those who have taken AstraZeneca, who have taken the first vaccine that was offered to you at the first opportunity, you did the right thing," Henry said.

She said the decision to act quickly, rather than hold off for a different brand, made a "tremendous difference" when it came to transmission. She said the data shows these combinations work.

Now it's up to government officials to come up with a vaccine passport that will show a traveller is considered fully vaccinated, regardless of which vaccine(s) they were given.

Henry said she and federal officials, among others, have been meeting with counterparts in other countries including those with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Meetings have also been held with people in the U.K., European Union and "important sun destinations that many Canadians go to," Henry said, where mixed doses have been a part of immunization programs.

"Please be patient. This is changing rapidly," she said, promising updates in the coming weeks.

While Henry spoke only of international travel, holders of B.C.'s virtual vaccine card have had issues even in other provinces, as each comes up with its own passport system.

This is something the provincial governments are working on, health officials said previously.