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Coronavirus: Federal public well being company does not know what number of Canadians have been vaccinated overseas

OTTAWA —
Amid a push to have as a lot of the Canadian inhabitants vaccinated as rapidly as attainable, the federal public well being company says it doesn’t know what number of Canadians have acquired COVID-19 vaccines in different international locations.

With some Canadians opting to journey to a different nation to obtain COVID-19 vaccines probably sooner than they’d be capable of at residence, along with the quite a few Canadian residents who’re at present residing overseas, the absence of this knowledge implies that an vital piece of Canada’s total vaccination image is lacking, say critics.

CTVNews.ca requested the Public Well being Company of Canada (PHAC) a sequence of questions associated as to whether the federal authorities was maintaining observe of the variety of Canadian residents who’ve acquired COVID-19 vaccines in different international locations, and whether or not that knowledge is informing federal authorities’s goal of getting each prepared and eligible Canadian absolutely vaccinated by the top of September.

In response, PHAC spokesperson Tammy Jarbeau mentioned in a press release that vaccines acquired by Canadians in different international locations are “captured by provincial and territorial immunization registries provided that vaccinated people voluntarily submit their proof of vaccination to the general public well being authorities of their province or territory of residence.”

Jarbeau went on to say that as a result of PHAC’s knowledge is predicated on the provincial and territorial databases, “the company shouldn’t be in a position to observe” vaccines obtained by Canadians within the U.S., or different international locations.

In an interview with CTVNews.ca, NDP MP and well being critic Don Davies referred to as the scenario “surprising,” provided that Canada is now properly into the second 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic and an answer has not been discovered to “plug this crucial gap” in public well being knowledge.

Citing the March 2021 Auditor Basic report that famous poor collaboration and knowledge sharing between federal and provincial governments, amongst different shortcomings inside PHAC within the early months of the pandemic, Davies mentioned not understanding who has been vaccinated in a foreign country is “incomprehensible.”

“Getting it proper now… is vitally vital, and making an attempt to get it later is like making an attempt to place toothpaste again within the tube. You may by no means get all of it again in,” he mentioned.

As has been reported over the past a number of months, some Canadians have been travelling to america to obtain COVID-19 vaccines, whether or not throughout their winter stays as snowbirds, or as what some have described as “vaccine tourism.”

Davies advised that the federal authorities ought to begin asking Canadians who’re getting back from overseas whether or not they acquired a COVID-19 vaccine whereas overseas and feed that data on to PHAC.

“How can the federal authorities let individuals get by that border, solely to voluntarily maybe [have people] open up to provinces, after which search the knowledge later from the provinces? I do not know what’s worse, the flabbergasting inefficiency of it, or the sloppy public well being inadequacy,” Davies mentioned.

It’s unclear at present what number of Canadians live or working outdoors of Canada, with the newest statistic pegging the full at roughly 2.8 million Canadians, in response to the Canadian Expat Affiliation.

With out a sense of what number of Canadian residents who’ve both been partially, or fully vaccinated in a foreign country however have since returned to Canada, it could even have implications for capturing what the general diploma of herd immunity there may be inside the nation.

For instance, PHAC has beforehand pegged total vaccination charges to when public well being measures could start to be lifted. As a part of April 23 modelling, Chief Public Well being Officer Dr. Theresa Tam projected that ought to 75 per cent of adults have their first dose, and 20 per cent have their second, restrictions could possibly be lifted with out maxing out hospital capability. 

Along with the financial argument of informing reopening, Davies mentioned there are additionally regional epidemiological causes for why it could be useful to know who has been vaccinated, what sort of vaccine they acquired, and may there be any points, what batch their shot was from.

It could additionally complicate the federal authorities’s plans to subject some type of standardized proof of vaccination for Canadians to have the ability to journey overseas sooner or later, mentioned Conservative MP and well being critic Michelle Rempel Garner.

“The general lack of our capability to trace and to get Canadians proof of vaccination, I believe goes to be a problem on a number of fronts,” she mentioned in an interview with CTVNews.ca.

Rempel Garner mentioned that anecdotally she’s fielded questions from individuals about what occurs in the event that they obtain one shot in a single nation and the way they go about receiving their second shot elsewhere.

“Each MP is getting questions on this, notably from snowbirds and individuals who have… traveled overseas for a time frame, and have had entry to a vaccine in a foreign country… and the federal authorities ought to have a response.” Rempel Garner mentioned

CTVNews.ca has reached out to Well being Minister Patty Hajdu’s workplace for remark and to hunt extra details about what the federal government’s plan is to establish what number of Canadians have acquired COVID-19 vaccines in a foreign country.

To-date throughout Canada, almost 15 million individuals have acquired their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, although simply 1.2 million individuals have been absolutely vaccinated.



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