Trudeau announces new federal standard for COVID-19 vaccine passports

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not directly answer a question about if other countries have confirmed they will accept the new vaccine documentation for travel, but said he is ‘very confident’ that this proof of vaccination will be accepted worldwide.Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

The Canadian government will forgo issuing a federal vaccine passport for international travel and will instead rely on a standardized proof of vaccination issued by provinces and territories and featuring a Government of Canada logo and Canadian flag, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Thursday.

Speaking at a news conference in Ottawa, Mr. Trudeau confirmed that all provinces and territories have agreed to this new national standard. He said the documentation is already available in all three territories, as well as Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. The federal government is picking up the tab so all provinces can make the change.

“We made a commitment to ensure that there is a national standard for a proof of vaccination certificate,” he said. “So that people can travel domestically but particularly internationally.”

He did not directly answer a question about whether other countries have confirmed they will accept the new vaccine documentation for travel. But he said he is “very confident” it will be accepted worldwide.

Canadians can still use their previous provincial documentation for travel until their province issues the new standardized version.

Also at Thursday’s event, Mr. Trudeau announced that Canada will receive enough pediatric vaccine doses to administer the first shots to all eligible children soon after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine gets the green light from Health Canada.

The agency is reviewing a submission for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11, which was officially submitted on Monday.

A separate statement from Procurement Minister Anita Anand clarified that the country will get 2.9 million doses.

In April, the federal government struck a deal with Pfizer to buy new formulations of the COVID-19 vaccine for younger people and for new variants of concern. The deal was announced in addition to an agreement to buy booster shots from 2022 onward. Both of those deals are in addition to the 51 million doses Canada bought from Pfizer for people 12 and older.

The 2.9 million doses “are being advanced so that they can be delivered prior to 2022 if the vaccine receives regulatory approval in this population before then,” Pfizer Canada spokesperson Christina Antoniou said in a statement to The Globe and Mail Thursday.

On Sept. 10, Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said that, “if everything goes well,” she hoped the vaccine for five-to-11-year-olds would be approved “towards the end of this year.”

Regulatory bodies in the United States are meeting in the last week of October and first week of November to review the Pfizer vaccine for that age group. On Wednesday, the White House said it would be ready to get shots in arms “in the days following a final [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] recommendation.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says provinces and the federal government have agreed on a national proof-of-vaccination standard that will be used for domestic and international travel. It is based on the international standard for Smart health cards and is already in use in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Nunavut, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories and Yukon.

The Canadian Press

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