Where can Canadians travel with mixed COVID-19 vaccines?

Good news for Canadians with mixed-COVID-19 vaccinations who plan to visit the U.S. by car in coming weeks—the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed on Friday that it will accept mixed-dose coronavirus vaccines from international travelers.

The U.S. will opens its land borders with Canada and Mexico to vaccinated travelers on Nov. 8., nearly 20 months after non-essential travelers were prevented from crossing the land borders to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a press statement, the CDC stated that “individuals who have any combination of two doses of an FDA approved/authorized or WHO emergency use listed COVID-19 two-dose series are considered fully vaccinated.”

The CDC also noted that, while it has not recommended mixing types of vaccines in a primary series, they recognize “that this is increasingly common in other countries” and, thus, should be accepted for the interpretation of vaccine records.

Here’s how some other countries are handling mixed vaccinations:

UK

Travelers to the UK must have two doses of a vaccine (Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca) or a combination of them; or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated.

Denmark

Travelers who are vaccinated with mixed vaccines will be permitted entry, as long as both shots are approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Denmark—as with most European countries—recognizes the following vaccines: Pfizer-BioNTech (now known as Comirnaty), Moderna (now known as Spikevax), AstraZeneca (now known as Vaxzvria), and the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine.

Norway

Norway has approved the combination of Pfizer and Moderna shots.

France

France recognizes individuals with mixed vaccines as being fully immunized, but travelers must be vaccinated with an EMA-authorized vaccine combination.

Italy

Since June, the Italian Medicines Agency has recognized mixed vaccines as full vaccination.

Germany

Germany recognizes cross-vaccinations. The German Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends that people whose first shot is AstraZeneca should get vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine for the second shot (either Pfizer or Moderna).

Spain

Spain recognizes cross vaccination as proof of immunity for travelers.

Barbados

Although Barbados previously categorized travelers with mixed vaccine brands as unvaccinated, in mid-July, the island officially recognized people with approved mixed vaccine doses as fully vaccinated (you could read more about their travel protocols here).

Trinidad and Tobago

Non-nationals who are not fully vaccinated will not be allowed entry into Trinidad and Tobago at this time.  Individuals are considered fully vaccinated if 14 days have passed since receiving either a WHO-approved single-dose vaccine or the second dose of a WHO-approved two-dose vaccine. For a two-dose series, travellers must have received two doses of the same vaccine or the first dose of the AstraZeneca/Covishield vaccine followed by the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Travellers with any other combination of vaccines won’t be considered fully vaccinated, at this time.

In mid-July, the World Health Organization advised individuals against mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines from different manufacturers, although Canada allowed the mixing of vaccines, citing studies that have shown that mixing vaccines is safe and effective. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, more than 3.88 million Canadians have received two different types of vaccines approved by Health Canada to date.

As of Monday morning, in Ontario, 22,243,609 vaccine doses have been administered. Nearly 87.5% of Ontarians 12+ have one dose and 83.1% have two doses. Currently, 145 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in the province, and 168 people are in ICU due to COVID-19. There are 373 new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario—265 cases are in individuals who are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and 108 are in fully vaccinated individuals.

Travel costs associated with PCR tests could add up

Travelers to the U.S. won’t be required to show negative COVID-19 tests upon entry, but it’ll be pricey for all travelers (including Canadians) entering Canada. All travelers 5 years of age or older, regardless of citizenship or vaccination status, must provide proof of a COVID-19 negative test result to enter Canada, or proof of a previous positive test result taken between 14 and 180 days.

For example, most COVID-19 diagnostic tests in the U.S. will cost you anywhere between CAD $123 and $247. That could add up when traveling with family.

Rapid antigen tests won’t be accepted—only polymerase chain reaction (PCR), nucleic acid tests (NATs), nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs), or reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP)—which use methods, such as a nasopharyngeal swabs, nose swabs, or saliva samples.

As regulations are constantly changing, make sure to check a country’s requirements before visiting.

Click here for more COVID-19 updates.

Article exclusive to Streets Of Toronto