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 that will be issued by provinces and territories, which will feature a Government of Canada logo and Canadian flag, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Thursday.

Speaking at a press conference in Ottawa, Mr. Trudeau confirmed that all provinces and territories have agreed to this new national standard. He said that the documentation is already available in all three territories as well as Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, 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 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.

Canadians can still use their previous provincial documentation for travel until their province moves to issuing 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 for all eligible children soon after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine gets the green light from Health Canada.

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

“We will have the supply necessary to support every kid across the country, from five to 11 with vaccinations, as soon as possible,” after Health Canada’s approval, Mr. Trudeau said at a press conference in Ottawa.

A separate statement from Procurement Minister Anita Anand clarified that the country will get 2.9 million doses, enough for first doses for everyone in that age group, “shortly after” the federal regulator signs off on their use.

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 in 2022 onward. Both of those deals are in addition to the 51-million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine Canada bought from Pfizer, which is eligible 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 on Thursday.

On Sept. 10, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said “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 five to 11 year-olds. 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.”

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