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Ottawa has no plans to extend vaccine mandate to children: Health Minister

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  •   11-22-2021  2:12 pm
  •   Pax Global Media

Ottawa has no plans to extend vaccine mandate to children: Health Minister
(Ira Lichi/Shutterstock)
Pax Global Media

The Canadian government has no immediate plans to enforce its vaccine mandate on children, says Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos.

Last week, Health Canada authorized the use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s two-dose vaccine for children aged five to 11 years old.

The first shipment of these doses arrived on Sunday (Nov. 21) and 2.9 million doses are scheduled to arrive by the end of the week.

Currently, adults are required to show proof of vaccination for air, rail and marine travel within and outside of Canada.

But Minister Duclos, in an interview with CTV’s Question Period, said this mobility restriction, which took effect on Oct. 30, won’t apply to kids. For now, at least.

“There are no changes to the vaccination or testing rules for children of any age. We are, as you said, entirely focused now on delivering the doses of Pfizer to the provinces and territories so that we can start administering the Pfizer vaccine as quickly as possible,” Duclos told CTV.

READ MORE: Ottawa will nix PCR test for short trips starting Nov. 30; list of approved vaccines expanded

To that end, he said that no one can predict how the situation will evolve.

Duclos also said Canada does not intend to include COVID-19 booster shots within its vaccine mandate requirements.

“Based on the public health guidance and knowledge that we now have there is no need to change the rules around the definition of full vaccination,” he said.

Moderna has also submitted their COVID-19 vaccine for Health Canada approval for administration in young children.

"After a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence, the department has determined that the benefits of this vaccine for children between five and 11 years of age outweigh the risks," Health Canada wrote in a news release on Friday.

Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine is to be delivered in doses one-third the size of those given to adults and kids 12 and older and Health Canada plans to inject the two doses 21 days apart.

Vaccination required for Disney cruises

In the United States, young children only recently became eligible for COVID-19 vaccines and the travel sector has begun to respond accordingly.

Disney Cruise Line, for example, last week announced that children ages five and up must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for cruises starting in January next year.

READ MORE: Disney cruises to require vaccinations for children 5 & older

The cruise line’s new vaccine requirement for youngsters is for sailings beginning on or after January 13, 2022," the company said on its website Wednesday. "Guests who are not vaccine-eligible because of age must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result."

Passengers ages five through 11 may opt in to testing instead of showing vaccination proof for sailings that depart before Jan. 13.

No more PCR tests for short trips

The update comes after Ottawa, on Friday (Nov. 19), announced that, starting Nov. 30, fully vaccinated Canadians taking short trips abroad will no longer need to present a pre-entry molecular (PCR) COVID-19 test to return home.

The relaxed rule will only apply to Canadians and permanent residents who have had their full series of COVID shots and who depart and re-enter Canada within 72 hours.

The change applies to both land and air borders and travellers must demonstrate that they have been away from Canada for less than 72 hours, says the Government of Canada on its website.

Canada first introduced a COVID-19 test requirement for air travellers at the height of the pandemic in January

The rule has required all travellers entering Canada to show proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test taken within 72 hours of their departing flight or arrival at the land border.

Unvaccinated people in Canada are currently allowed to travel by showing a negative COVID-19 test as an alternative to proof of vaccination, but this allowance will end on Nov. 30.

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