The number of fully vaccinated Canadians is slowly rising and all levels of government are under pressure to start outlining which restrictions can be lifted for those who’ve gotten their second doses — and how they’ll be expected to prove it.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has said it will offer some guidance … eventually. But right now, the provinces are pretty much going their own way, which worries some medical experts who fear that a patchwork of rules could undermine the progress made in containing the pandemic.
“I do think the federal government should be putting out some framework,” said Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease physician. “Certainly at the provincial level, at the municipal level, having something that gives us guidance.
“We have to give some guidance on what to do is safe. Otherwise, people are just going to forge their own path.”
Some provinces have limited guidelines for fully-vaccinated individuals, mostly for travel and self-isolation. Others are directing all residents to follow public health measures, regardless of their vaccination status.
B.C.’s “Restart Plan” applies to everyone in B.C., regardless of their vaccination status.
Individuals can choose to receive either a paper copy or a digital copy of their immunization record cards. The province also recommends registering with Health Gateway, where digital immunization records are available to British Columbians who have received the vaccine.
The provincial government says it’s also working with Ottawa and the other provinces and territories on developing a pan-Canadian proof-of-COVID-19 health status document for international travel.
In Alberta, health restrictions currently apply to all Albertans, including those who are fully and partially vaccinated. The provincial government says it has no plans to change this approach at this time.
There are some exceptions. If you’re fully vaccinated in Alberta and you’ve been exposed to a COVID-19 case — and if you have no symptoms — you don’t have to quarantine. If you do have symptoms, you must isolate for 10 days; the province recommends you get tested because you can end your isolation early if you test negative.
If you’re partially vaccinated in Alberta and you’re exposed to an active case, and if you have no symptoms, you must still quarantine for 10 days. The province recommends that you get tested; you can leave quarantine if you test negative on day 7 or later. If you test negative before day 7, you must remain in quarantine and you’ll need a second negative test on day 7 or later to exit quarantine.
Albertans get paper copies of their personal immunization records. Those wanting an electronic copy must register for a MyHealth Records account.
As for the idea of a proof-of-vaccination document, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has drawn a line in the sand already. “We’ve made it absolutely clear that we will not be facilitating so-called vaccine passports,” he said on May 18.
Saskatchewan’s Re-Open Roadmap indicates that all public health measures will be lifted when 70 per cent of people 12 years of age and older receive at least one dose. The province has said that threshold could be crossed as early as July 11.
Saskatchewan is providing residents with proof of vaccination but this is not for travel purposes. Premier Scott Moe says he’s engaging with the federal government on developing a vaccine passport for travel.
Manitobans who’ve had two doses are already starting to enjoy the benefits.
Fully vaccinated Manitobans are now able to travel within Canada without having to self-isolate for two weeks when they return to the province.
Premier Brian Pallister announced Tuesday that immunization cards will be provided to individuals two weeks after they’ve received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The digital and physical vaccination card shows only the person’s first and last names and a scannable QR code that will prove the person has been fully vaccinated. No personal health information can be accessed through these cards.
Also, any fully vaccinated Manitoban identified as a close contact of a COVID-19 case is exempt from self-isolation.
The premier says additional benefits for the fully vaccinated will be announced soon.
People can apply for the card through a new online portal on the government’s website.
Ontario is still waiting to see what other jurisdictions do. For now, all Ontarians are expected to follow the same rules.
The office of Ontario’s chief medical officer of health is consulting with experts on new rules for the fully vaccinated. But the province is also urging Health Canada and PHAC to release federal guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals, as the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did in the U.S.
Each individual vaccinated in Ontario receives a printed vaccination receipt. Those that consent to receive information electronically receive a digital receipt via email.
The province is calling on the federal government to come up with a proof-of-vaccination document that is recognized both by Health Canada and by international allies, to open up travel. It also wants mandatory testing for travellers arriving in Canada to identify new variants.
As of June 25, people in Quebec who have been fully vaccinated can remove their masks at private gatherings.
The province also has lifted some restrictions in residential and long-term care centres (CHSLDs) and seniors residences for fully vaccinated individuals.
Quebec’s proof of vaccination document comes in both paper and electronic forms. It includes a QR code which, when scanned, give dates of vaccination, the name of the vaccine used and the name of the person who received it, along with date of birth and gender.
Quebec hasn’t worked out yet how this document will be used for travel or other aspects of post-pandemic life. The province says it is working with the federal government on a vaccination passport.
Under phase two of the province’s reopening strategy, travellers from the rest of Canada and Maine who’ve had least one dose, and international travellers who’ve received two doses, will not be required to isolate after entering the province.
The province expects to enter phase two on July 1.
Until enough people are fully vaccinated to stop the spread of COVID-19, all New Brunswickers are expected to follow the same guidelines. The province says it expects to move to “green level” — where all restrictions have been lifted — by Aug. 2, assuming 75 per cent of all New Brunswickers age 12 and older have received their second doses.
New Brunswick provides paper copies of immunization records.
The provincial government says it wants to be in step with what other jurisdictions are doing on vaccine passports. It says it will follow discussions with other provinces and territories and the federal government.
Right now, anyone who has received one or two doses of a vaccine in Nova Scotia must continue to follow all public health measures, including the one requiring quarantine on arrival in the province.
The only exceptions to the quarantine rule are rotational workers who have no symptoms and have been fully vaccinated at least two weeks before arriving in Nova Scotia. (You can find Nova Scotia’s updated guidance for rotational workers here.)
Every Nova Scotian receives an immunization record with their vaccine. The record is digital and can be accessed online at any time.
The province is discussing proof-of-vaccination tools with the federal government and other provinces and territories.
In P.E.I., public health and travel measures will remain in place until 80 per cent of eligible Island residents are fully immunized. The target date for reaching that benchmark is September 12.
The province says travel restrictions should start easing around June 27. That should open up travel to P.E.I. from other Atlantic provinces and end the isolation requirement for fully or partially vaccinated travellers who have received a negative test (those travellers will still have to file a travel declaration form with the province).
As of June 27, Islanders who have received one or both doses won’t have to self-isolate upon returning home from travel within Atlantic Canada, provided they get tested when they return.
The province says that by roughly August 8, it will admit domestic travellers from outside of Atlantic Canada (they’ll still have to file pre-travel declarations) and fully vaccinated travellers won’t be required to isolate. After that date, Islanders who are fully vaccinated will be able to travel within Canada and without having to self-isolate when they return home, provided they get tested.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Step 1 of the government’s reopening plan — which Newfoundland and Labrador says could start as soon as July 1 — opens the province’s borders to non-essential domestic travel.
In this phase of the province’s reopening plan, fully vaccinated Canadians will not have to face testing or self-isolation requirements. Canadian travellers who are partially vaccinated will have to show a negative PCR test within three days of their departure, or self-isolate upon arrival in Newfoundland and Labrador until they receive a negative test result.
Travellers will have to submit a form upon arrival. The province says it is working through processes now that will allow people to upload their proof-of-vaccination to the travel form.
“We are working right now on a way that allows anyone who’s in the province to be able to get their vaccine record, should they need it for travel or for other reasons,” said Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, chief medical officer of health for Newfoundland and Labrador.
“Certainly these are questions that we’re looking at and these conversations are happening at all levels, even at the larger tables across the country that we sit at.”
The Nunavut Department of Health asks that fully vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals continue to follow all existing public health guidance for now.
Each Nunavut resident receives a small paper wallet card with the first and second doses. Individuals may also choose to use their own immunization booklets or the CanImmunize app to record their COVID19 shots along with their other vaccinations.
Health care providers also document all vaccine doses in the electronic medical record, Meditech. With consent, Meditech is used to verify vaccination status so that people can enter the territory without having to isolate.
The Government of Nunavut has maintained that vaccine passports would be a federal initiative and has not made any requests of the Government of Canada about such documentation so far.
As of June 14, fully vaccinated travellers bound for Nunavut will no longer have to self-isolate.
The Northwest Territories’ pandemic experience has been almost unique in Canada; it has not had to go in and out of lockdowns because it’s seen very low COVID case counts and hospitalizations — and no deaths. Regardless of their vaccination status, residents can still eat at local restaurants, play sports, get haircuts and shop at local stores.
On June 9, the territorial government released its plan to end pandemic restrictions. It says it hopes to ease self-isolation restrictions for travellers by early summer.
Vaccine information in N.W.T. is entered into the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system. The territory offers residents a card for their personal records only; they can request vaccine records if they’re needed for employment or other reasons.
The N.W.T. says it will comply with a federal vaccine certification system once it’s in place.
All individuals in Yukon have to follow most of the same public health guidelines, regardless of their vaccination status.
Restrictions were loosened on May 25 for fully vaccinated people entering the territory. They no longer need to self-isolate upon entry. These individuals will have to sign a declaration that they have been fully vaccinated and provide consent for the verification of their vaccination status in order to be exempt from the 14 day self-isolation requirement.
Yukon’s most current plan for lifting restrictions can be found here.
Vaccinated individuals get a vaccination card but can also request a formal record.
The premier, Sandy Silver has called for a national vaccine verification registry.