'I'm kind of getting handcuffed by it': Mixed vaccinations posing problems for Manitoba travellers

Before the pandemic Mike Jaycocks and a group of friends would plan a trip to a sunny destination outside of Canada every year.

Now, as international borders begin to reopen, Jaycocks is looking into a post-pandemic trip, only to discover he may not be recognized as “fully vaccinated,” even after receiving two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Everybody advocated for AstraZeneca, so I thought, ‘okay, I want to do my part,’” said Jaycocks, who received a first dose of the viral vector AstraZeneca vaccine and the Pfizer mRNA vaccine as his second dose.

“But now it’s kind of rebounding and I’m kind of getting handcuffed by it,” he said.

“The reality is there are going to be a lot of places that aren’t going to consider me fully vaccinated.”

Some tourist destinations are not recognizing mixed COVID-19 doses as fully vaccinated.

Barbados recently overturned its rule against mixed dose travellers, though cruise lines remain an issue for folks who received two different varieties of COVID-19 vaccines.

“Guests who have received one single dose of a vector vaccine (e.g., AstraZeneca) and one single dose of an mRNA vaccine (e.g., Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna) will not be considered fully vaccinated,” reads Princess Cruises's vaccination policy.

The cruise line will recognize individuals who received two different doses of the same type of vaccine (e.g., the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines) as fully vaccinated.

Other major cruise lines, like Carnival CruiseLine and Norwegian Cruise Lines, have similar policies in place.

It’s an issue the province of Manitoba is currently aware of.

“We can't change our rollout to try to match the requirements of the thousands upon thousands of different companies and the rules that they may have in place,” Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead for the province’s vaccine implementation task force, said on Wednesday.

“That doesn't minimize how frustrating it is for someone who may not be able to go on a cruise with their cruise line of choice,” said Reimer.

Travel advisor Barb Crowe said she has been fielding a lot of calls and questions from prospective travellers on international vaccine policies and mixed doses.

She’s hopeful cruise lines and other countries will recognize mixed vaccines as fully vaccinated soon.

“Sometimes I think there’s a bit of a knee-jerking reaction going on,” said Crowe, president of Ixtapa Travel.

“When they really sort it out and dot the I’s and cross the T’s, I sort of feel like it’s going to be okay,” she said.

In the meantime, Jaycocks hopes the province will provide him with a second mRNA dose if there’s adequate supply.

“If there are doses and I can get my second Pfizer,” said Jaycocks, “Then why not let me?”

“At this time, no province or territory is offering third doses for the purpose of travel or compliance with individual company policies,” reads a statement provided by a provincial spokesperson to CTV News.

“We expect that over time, mixed schedules will be recognized widely as they are being used in many countries around the world.”