Canadian residents are allowed to drive to the United States to get a COVID-19 vaccine, if they want to, federal officials have confirmed.
What’s more is that citizens, after getting their shot, can return to Canada without having to quarantine for 14 days if they meet certain conditions.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) confirmed the allowance with the Canadian Press on Tuesday (May 19).
The conditions include having a note from a licensed health-care provider in Canada stating that the shot is medically necessary, as well as written proof from the licensed U.S. vaccine provider.
Canada’s quarantine regulations, apparently, contain an exemption for essential medical services obtained abroad.
A COVID-19 shot, PHAC said, falls into that category.
Speeding things up
The loophole may come as welcome news to those living within driving distance to the U.S., and who wish to get vaccinated more quickly.
While Canada seems to be ramping up its national-wide vaccination efforts, the wait times to secure an appointment is still quite long.
The Canada-U.S. land border has been closed to non-essential travel since March 2020, and the restrictions are expected to be extended until June 21, 2021.
All international arrivals in Canada, whether entering by land or air, are required to self-isolate for 14 days, as per the Quarantine Act.
In the case of crossing the land border for a COVID-19 shot, the trip has to happen in a private vehicle (but can include a support person) and Canadians must go to their appointment and return immediately without making stops along the way.
Quarantine-exempt travellers must wear a mask in public spaces at all times, keep a list of contacts and places visited for 14 days, and U.S. border agents have the final say on who they let in, Health Canada told CP.
On Tuesday, there was already a report of cars lined up at the Piegan–Carway Border Crossing, which connects the town of Babb, Montana with Cardston, Alberta, with Canadian passengers eager to get their shots.
The Blackfeet Tribe, which is based in Montana just 150 km south of Lethbridge, Alta., had extra doses to go around and decided, last month, to share it with its Canadian neighbours, reports say.
In this particular case, a mobile clinic was set up whereby cars could drive through a loop at the border crossing, receive their shots, undergo monitoring for 15 minutes, and drive home.
Those interested in the option are advised to check with their nearby state, first, as some regions in the U.S. still have residency requirements for issuing vaccines.
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