What are Canadian vaccine passports?


A COVID-19 vaccine passport (or vaccine certification, or proof of vaccination) is a digital or paper document you can obtain after receiving your second vaccine dose in Canada (1;2). Generally, the vaccine passport includes the following (may vary based on where you reside) (2):

  • Your COVID-19 vaccine history

  • Date of vaccine doses

  • The type of vaccine

  • The physical location of where you got the vaccine (e.g. left deltoid)

Various institutions are mandating vaccine passports for folks to access services such as travel, education, healthcare services, work, and/or entertainment (11).


Travel

The purpose of a vaccine passport allows Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and temporary residents to travel nationally and internationally more easily (2). For now, this does not mean that folks without a vaccine passport cannot travel. Rather, it provides an opportunity for fully vaccinated people to travel without needing to complete COVID-19 tests or quarantine for 14 days after travel.


For a breakdown of vaccinated and unvaccinated traveller’s restrictions and guidelines for travelling in and out of Canada, please visit Canada Visa.

It is currently deemed safe to travel, however, whether you are fully vaccinated or not will determine the risks associated with travelling during the COVID-19 pandemic (3).


Education

As of August 2021, guidelines around vaccine certifications for education are still in discussion. Whether or not students are required to present vaccine certifications to attend school at the secondary or post-secondary level varies across Canada. Some post-secondary campuses require digital proof of full vaccination, while others require self-declaration of full vaccination (4). Currently, It is not a requirement for high school students to be fully vaccinated to attend school, however, screening and quarantine measures are in place for unvaccinated students (5;6;7).

Healthcare

Vaccine certifications are beneficial for folks visiting family or friends in the hospital but are not required. Having a vaccine certification helps folks see friends and family easier, as public health measures greatly restrict hospital visitations (8). The vaccine certification would remove some of these visitation barriers by allowing for safer visits in high-risk places, like hospitals or hospices.

Employment

Vaccine certifications may be a hiring requirement for certain jobs in Canada. An employer could ask for vaccine certification from prospective employees (9). In addition, employers can ask current employees for vaccine certification to continue working as an employee (9).

Entertainment

Various entertainment services in Canada will ask for a vaccination certification or a negative COVID-19 test in order to attend/access services (10). This includes concerts, live theatres, movie theatres, live events, etc.


Overall, proof of vaccination allows you to live life with fewer restrictions. By having a vaccine certification, you can travel, go to school, work, etc. easier than without vaccine certification. For none, not having a vaccine passport does not mean you cannot travel, go to school, work, etc., but rather, you will have to follow appropriate public health guidelines such as quarantining and COVID-19 testing to do so. This is to ensure we are all safe and reduce the transmission of COVID-19 as much as possible with the re-opening of the country.


References

1. O’Brien M. What is a COVID-19 passport, and do I need one? [Internet]. ABC News. 2021 Aug 26 [cited 2021 Aug 26]. Available from: https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/covid-19-vaccine-passport-79652112.

2. Gilmore R. Canada getting passport for international travel. [Internet]. Global News. 2021 Aug 11 [cited 2021 Aug 20]. Available from: https://globalnews.ca/news/8104692/canada-getting-proof-of-vaccination-passport-for-international-travel/.

3. El-Assal K. Canada working on vaccine passport for international travel. [Internet]. CIC News. 2021 Aug 11 [cited 2021 Aug 20]. Available from: https://www.cicnews.com/2021/08/canada-working-on-vaccine-passport-for-international-travel-0818869.html#gs.9vxbwc.

4. Government of Canada. Planning for the 2021-2022 school year in the context of COVID-19 vaccination. [Internet]. 2021 [updated 2021 Aug 26; cited 2021 Aug 26]. Available from: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/guidance-documents/planning-2021-2022-school-year-vaccination.html.

5. Ghania Y. What are the vaccination policies at Ontario post-secondary schools? Here’s what you need to know. [Internet]. CBC News. 2021 Aug 12 [cited 2021 Aug 23]. Available from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-universities-covid-19-vaccine-1.6138824.

6. D’Mello C. Ontario will have different rules for unvaccinated students this September. [Internet]. 2021 Jul 27 [cited 2021 Aug 26]. Available from: https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/ontario-will-have-different-rules-for-unvaccinated-students-this-september-1.5525110.

7. Davidson S. Ontario requires mandatory vaccines for students against nine illnesses, but says it won’t for COVID-19 [Internet]. Toronto News. 2021 Aug 5 [cited 2021 Aug 26]. Available from: https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/ontario-requires-mandatory-vaccines-for-students-against-nine-illnesses-but-says-it-won-t-for-covid-19-1.5535573.

8. Carstairs C, Fraser C, Hughes K. Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in schools this fall? Ontario’s 1982 legislation spurred organized opposition [Internet]. The Conversation. 2021 Aug 5 [cited 2021 Aug 26]. Available from https://theconversation.com/mandatory-covid-19-vaccination-in-schools-this-fall-ontarios-1982-legislation-spurred-organized-opposition-164746.

9. Jones AM. Vaccine passports: Where and how could they be used in Canada? [Internet]. CTV News. 2021 Jul 13 [cited 2021 Aug 26]. Available from: https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/vaccine-passports-where-and-how-could-they-be-used-in-canada-1.5507750.

10. Raymer E. Can employers require new hires to show proof of vaccination? [Internet]. Canadian Lawyer. 2021 May 17 [cited 2021 Aug 26]. Available from https://www.canadianlawyermag.com/practice-areas/labour-and-employment/can-employers-require-new-hires-to-show-proof-of-vaccination/356212.

11. https://news.ontario.ca/en/release/1000779/ontario-to-require-proof-of-vaccination-in-select-settings#quickfacts



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