Canadian residents heading to the United States for COVID-19 vaccinations should be exempt from mandatory quarantine on return if health authorities here deem the shots an essential medical service, a hospital CEO said Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Canadian residents heading to the United States for COVID-19 vaccinations should be exempt from mandatory quarantine on return if health authorities here deem the shots an essential medical service, a hospital CEO said Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

If COVID vaccines ‘essential,’ Canadians could get shots in U.S. and no quarantine

‘How can a COVID vaccine not be considered essential?’ David Musyj said Friday. ‘These vaccines are within reach. Any Canadian can go over there.’

Canadian residents should be able to head to the United States for COVID-19 vaccinations and be exempt from mandatory quarantine on return if health authorities here deem the shots medically necessary, a hospital CEO said on Friday.

Although a vaccination itself does not exempt incoming travellers from quarantine rules, an exemption does exist for those heading abroad for medically essential procedures.

David Musyj, head of Windsor Regional Hospital in the border city of Windsor, Ont., said he has asked the Public Health Agency of Canada whether the government does deem the vaccines medically necessary.

“How can a COVID vaccine not be considered essential?” Musyj said in an interview Friday. “These vaccines are within reach. Any Canadian can go over there.”

Windsor’s mayor has discussed using city transit buses to take residents to a mass vaccine site at Detroit’s Ford Field stadium and bring them back. Musyj said his hospital could help with such an effort but the quarantine requirement for people returning to Canada is an obstacle.

Musyj has now sought clarity on the medical exemption.

According to the rules, a doctor in Canada has to decide a medical service abroad is essential for a patient, and the person must provide proof they received it to avoid quarantine on return.

Musyj said he wants an advance ruling from Health Canada, adding it would be beneficial to access clinics in the U.S. and return without having to isolate.

In an initial response for comment on the hospital’s request, Health Canada said only that a doctor’s recommendation “falls under the practice of medicine, which is of provincial/territorial jurisdiction.”

However, a spokeswoman did say the ministry was looking at allowing Canadians to pick up surplus doses in the U.S. for injection here.

“The government of Canada is currently working with provinces, territories and the United States to determine the feasibility of importing COVID-19 vaccines made available via donation,” Kathleen Marriner said.

What is off the table, Marriner said, is allowing vaccine retrieval from the States under a special import program for urgently needed drugs that are not available in Canada. The program, she said, would not be “appropriate mechanism” to facilitate importation.

While supplies in Canada are ramping up, shortages remain a major obstacle to inoculating the population. The Windsor region in southwestern Ontario alone estimates it still needs about 600,000 doses to fully vaccinate its residents.

At the same time, pharmacies and other vaccination sites across the border are struggling to use their supplies due to a lack of demand. Michigan and other states have said they are willing to offer their excess supply to Canada.

The Windsor hospital had wanted permission under the federal “special access program” to be able to take the Americans up on their offer.

Despite rejecting the program application, Health Canada has asked the hospital several logistical questions, such as how the vaccines would be retrieved, transported and stored, and what security measures would be in place.

Quality, safety and traceability, along with procedures for reporting any adverse reactions, would be key to allowing the imports, Marriner said.

“Health Canada would work with the requester, in collaboration with our federal, provincial and territorial partners, to verify that strict protocols are followed,” Marriner said.

Musyj said it would be simple to drive over to Detroit or other border states and have the vaccines back in Canada within hours.

“They’ve got vaccines to burn over there,” he said. “Let’s go get them.”

Ohio, for example, is giving five vaccinated residents US$1 million each by way of a lottery. New York City is promising free fries, while New Jersey is offering a free beer to first-shot recipients.

“That just shows you what’s happening in the United States to get people vaccinated,” Musyj said.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusUnited Statesvaccines

Just Posted

Joseph Albert Brooks, 94-years-young pf Prince Rupert offers traditional prayers and smudging to the sick. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Heart of our City: Joseph Albert Brooks keeps smudging and praying for others

94-year-old Tsimshian elder just wants some help washing his floors

Land along Prince Rupert’s waterfront, PID 012-247-391, where residents say excessive industrial train noise is stemming from, has been found to be owned by the City of Prince Rupert and is not federal land like first presented, Prince Rupert Environmental Society stated on June 17. (Image: supplied by Land Title and Survey, Govt. of BC.)
Error found on land titles map may assist city with noise control enforcement of industry

Prince Rupert residents had been told there was no municipal jurisdiction to enforce noise bylaws

Department of Oceans and Fisheries has announced as of July 19 chinook salmon is not to be fished in certain areas in BC tidal waters until July. Spring chinook salmon are seen swimming. (Photo courtesy Michael Humling, US Fish & Wildlife Service)
Chinook Salmon limits set to zero in some BC tidal waters

DFO implement restrictions to protect Chinook Salmon

Visitors to a pop-up temporary aquarium in Prince Rupert will have the chance to see marine ecology from July 21 to Aug. 15, like this viewer watching sea anemones at the Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Prince Rupert pop-up aquarium will bring sea level to eye level in July

A permanent peak to reef ecology centre is in the planning stages by North Coast Ecology Society

Prince Rupert’s Ellen Wright and Graeme Dickens jam out during filming the two Ring System Studio concerts to be broadcast on television during June. (Photo: supplied, H. Cox)
Ring System Studio sounds on television

Two concerts by the Prince Rupert music school will be broadcast in June

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

Most Read