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

LETTER: Writer questions spread of variant and timing of vaccinations

Will there ever be a return to normal, or will people need to invest in respirators?

A family of geese wandered through the beach area of Whonnock Lake recently. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
VIDEO: Whonnock Lake visitors marvel at cute goslings

Defecating fowl can also bring with them potential issues for Maple Ridge park

Edward Wang shared this picture of an alpaca amid a field of hay in Pitt Meadows, seeking a little shade under the summer-like skies. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Grazing in the field

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

Sandie Bannie is opposed to Pitt Meadows council move to put an RCMP detachment in a park. (Special to The News)
LETTER: Pitt Meadows resident opposed to costly RCMP detachment for small population

Letter writer urges residents to voice opposition before June 28 deadline

Dylan Ross, a Maple Ridge resident for 25 years, is like so many other local residents. He gravitates to the local trails and waterways for a little relaxation. He shared a few pictures along the local dikes near Sharpe Road during a recent kayaking adventure. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Regular relaxation retreat

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

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

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Black Press Media files)
Burnaby RCMP look for witnesses in hit-and-run that left motorcyclist dead

Investigators believe that the suspect vehicle rear-ended the motorcycle before fleeing the scene

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

A police pursuit involving Abbotsford Police ended in Langley Saturday night, June 20. (Black Press Media file)
Abbotsford Police pursuit ends in Langley with guns drawn

One person arrested, witnesses say an officer may have been hurt in collision with suspect vehicle

Most Read