Canadians who were worried their jab of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine would prevent them from visiting the United States will be able to go to America.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Monday travellers who have received shots of COVID-19 vaccines approved or recognized for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will meet the criteria for travel to the U.S. There is no word whether people who received a mixed-dose of vaccine would be accepted.
The change will come into play when new travel regulations are announced next month.
“CDC will release additional guidance and information as the travel requirements are finalized,” said an emailed statement from spokesperson Jasmine Reed to the Canadian Press. Reed said the CDC began informing airlines of its decision last week.
Last month, White House officials said international travellers would be allowed to visit beginning in November as long as they were fully vaccinated. They did not say which vaccines would meet those criteria.
AstraZeneca is not among the three COVID-19 vaccines approved by the FDA. It is, however, approved by the WHO.
The mixing of Moderna and Pfizer has not been approved by the FDA.
Nearly 4 million Canadians have received two different doses of Health Canada approved COVID-19 vaccines. The totals do not include Quebec which does not categorize data by vaccine product.
According to data from the Public Health Agency of Canada, of those numbers, 1.6 million had a dose of AstraZeneca followed by a mRNA vaccine.
The COVID-19 vaccines approved under the WHO’s emergency use listing have only been assessed as single product regimens, meaning people receive the same vaccine for both shots.
But the agency’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization recommends mRNA vaccines – Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna – can be used as a second dose following a first dose with the AstraZeneca vaccine if a second dose of AstraZeneca is not available.
The National Airlines Council of Canada told The Canadian Press in an emailed statement that it applauded the CDC’s decision.
“As countries move forward and recognize WHO-approved vaccines, it underscores the critical need for the Canadian government to do likewise, and accept the global standard established by the WHO,” said Mike McNaney, the group’s president and chief executive officer.
Travellers to Canada can only be considered fully vaccinated if they have two doses of Health Canada approved vaccines at least 14 days prior to entering the country.
The new travel rules in the United States replace Trump-era travel bans that restricted visits to the U.S. by those who had recently been in the United Kingdom, the European Union, China, India, Iran, Ireland, Brazil and South Africa.
Passengers will have to show proof of vaccination before boarding, as well as a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than three days before departure.