Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Canadian residents are allowed to head to the United States for a COVID-19 vaccine and avoid quarantine on return if they meet some straightforward conditions, the Public Health Agency of Canada confirms.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Canadian residents are allowed to head to the United States for a COVID-19 vaccine and avoid quarantine on return if they meet some straightforward conditions, the Public Health Agency of Canada confirms.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke

No-quarantine cross-border COVID-19 vaccination trip OK with Ottawa

Canadians can drive to U.S. for COVID-19 shot and avoid quarantine, with conditions

Canadian residents are allowed to head to the United States for a COVID-19 vaccine and avoid quarantine on return if they meet some straightforward conditions, the Public Health Agency of Canada confirms.

Those conditions include having a note from a licensed health-care provider in Canada that the inoculation is medically necessary, and written proof from the licensed U.S. vaccine provider.

Quarantine regulations passed by the federal government contain an exemption for essential medical services obtained abroad. A coronavirus shot, the agency says, falls under that definition.

The exemption offers people within driving range of border states awash in vaccines a relatively simple way to get a coveted shot quickly. While supplies are ramping up in Canada, distribution in many areas remains tenuous and age and other eligibility limits remain in place.

Information on the regulations and exemption, created by federal cabinet and contained on the government’s website, was confirmed by the Public Health Agency of Canada in an email to David Musyj, head of the Windsor Regional Hospital in the border city of Windsor, Ont.

Musyj had pressed Health Canada for answers after noting that people could easily drive over to Detroit for a shot, but having to isolate for 14 days on return would be a major obstacle.

“It does verify our interpretation of the current order in council/website information is accurate — that a COVID-19 vaccine is an ‘essential medical service or treatment,’ Musyj said. “It makes it clear the exemption is permissive.”

However, public health also said in a written exchange with Musyj that crossing the border — which remains closed to non-essential travel — for a vaccine would not be licence to tack on shopping or other activities. In addition, to qualify for an exemption, the trip has to be in a private vehicle but can include a support person.

“Very clear: You need to go to the appointment only and return immediately,” Musyj said. “Cannot stop anywhere else for anything.”

On return, health authorities said, quarantine-exempt travellers must wear a mask in public spaces at all times and keep a list of close contacts and places visited for 14 days.

Importantly, Health Canada noted U.S. border agents have final say on who they let in, and that it is up to returning travellers to provide the required documents to Canada Border Services agents for a final decision on a quarantine exemption.

“The onus is on the traveller to clearly demonstrate they meet an exemption under the order in council,” the public health agency said.

Musyj said he was still pushing for federal approval to allow an organized effort to retrieve surplus vaccines from Detroit and bring them back to Canada for use here. The same vaccines produced in Kalamazoo, Mich., are also distributed in Canada but demand in the U.S. has lagged supply.

The federal government has said millions of COVID-19 inoculation doses are set to start arriving in the coming days, but supplies remain limited in many areas.

— Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press

RELATED: Canada marks 25,000 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began

RELATED: New head of Canada’s vaccine rollout named after predecessor accused of misconduct

border agencyCoronavirusUSA

Just Posted

A report shows nine West Kootenay communities are have more low-income persons than the provincial average. File photo
Study casts new light on poverty in the West Kootenay

Nine communities in region have more low-income residents than provincial average

A volunteer delivers food to families as part of a West Kootenay EcoSociety program. Photo: Submitted
Farms to Friends delivers 2,500th bag of food to families in need

The program services communities in the Nelson, Trail and Castlegar areas

Selkirk College has begun its search in earnest for a leader to replace president Angus Graeme who is set to retire from his position in May 2022. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College seeks community input for president search

Current president Angus Graeme retires next year

Waneta Manor is located on Laburnum Drive in Trail. Photo: Sheri Regnier
Senior dies as Trail tenants continue wait for broken elevator to be fixed

The elevator in Waneta Manor has been out of commission since February

Adrian Moyls is the Selkirk College Class of 2021 valedictorian and graduate of the School of Health and Human Services. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College valedictorian proves mettle in accomplishment

Adrian Moyls is a graduate of the School of Health and Human Services

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Most Read