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

Daryl Jolly, his wife Kerry Pagdin, their sons Cole Jolly (left) and Graeme Jolly, and their dogs Gracie and Clover. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College arts chair diagnosed with lung cancer, family launches fund drive

Daryl Jolly co-founded the college’s digital arts program

An ambulance waits to pick up an elderly couple injured in a vehicle collision in Christina Lake Monday, June 14. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Christina Lake collision under investigation, say Grand Forks RCMP

No one was seriously hurt in a two-car collision on Highway 3 Monday, June 14

TELUS is proposing to construct a 5G tower at Pople Park. Photo: Sheri Regnier
First 5G tower in Trail proposed for placement in popular park

TELUS has a consultation process open until June 28

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

South Slocan’s Ti Loran is among the recipients of this year’s Neil Muth Memorial Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
Neil Muth Memorial Scholarships awarded to 4 students

Students in Creston, South Slocan and Revelstoke are sharing the honour

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers tested more than 230 commonly used cosmetics and found that 56% of foundations and eye products, 48% of lip products and 47% of mascaras contained high levels of fluorine

White Rock’s Marine Drive has been converted to one-way traffic to allow more patio space for waterfront restaurants. (Peace Arch News)
Province promotes permanent pub patios in B.C. post-pandemic plan

More than 2,000 temporary expansions from COVID-19 rules

Lake City Secondary School Williams Lake campus students Ethan Reid, from left, Brenden Higgins, Ty Oviatt, Kaleb Alphonse, Nathan Kendrick and Landon Brink with RCMP officers Const. Nicoll and Const. Stancec. (Photo submitted)
RCMP thank 6 teens for helping prevent forest fire in Williams Lake

The students came across fire in a wooded area and used the water they had to try and extinguish the flames

There is an emergency shelter near the Golden Ears peaks. (Facebook/Special to The News)
Hiker fogged in on Golden Ears, spends 2 nights

Talon Helicopters, Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue bring him home Monday

Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada, speaks at a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on June 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul facing no-confidence motion from party brass

move follows months of internal strife and the defection of MP Jenica Atwin to the Liberals

Tulips bloom in front of the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, Thursday, May 10, 2018. Day two of a full week of scheduled hearings will be heard in Federal Court today on a case involving Indigenous children unnecessarily taken into foster care by what all parties call Canada’s “broken child welfare system.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
AFN slams Ottawa for ‘heartless’ legal challenge of First Nations child compensation

2019 decision awarded $40,000 to each Indigenous child removed before 2006

Lindsay, Isla and Ethan Fischer & Maddie, Everly, Ray and Jessica Pressacc of the Tadanac Residents Association along with Aron Burke (Kootenay Savings Community Liaison) Kootenay Savings file
Kootenay Savings Foundation continues community support

The Kootenay Savings Foundation has once again handed out their twice a… Continue reading

Ivy was thrown out of a moving vehicle in Kelowna. Her tail was severely injured and will be amputated. (BC SPCA)
Kitten thrown from moving vehicle, needs help: Kelowna SPCA

The seven-week-old kitten had severe tail and femur injuries

Most Read