Will a digital vaccine passport deter older Canadians from travelling abroad?

Vaccine passports on the agenda at next month’s G7 Summit; U.S. clarifies vaccine passport stance

TORONTO — Vaccination certificates, also known as vaccine passports, will be on the agenda at next month’s G7 Summit in the UK.

The summit is set to take place June 11 – 13 in Cornwall, England. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled to attend, along with the leaders of the other G7 countries. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as host, has also invited India, Australia, South Korea and South Africa to attend as guest countries.

The CBC’s recent interview with Johnson included questions about vaccine passports. While Johnson’s responses sometimes spoke more to the need for overall pandemic preparedness in the future, he did assert that vaccine passports must be a key part of the strategy going forward.

“Clearly we need to have agreement on things like vaccine passports” and other measures, said Johnson. A key part of Johnson’s message at the upcoming summit will be the need for the beginnings of global agreement on pandemic preparedness on a number of levels. When the pandemic started in March 2020, “it was like a Tower of Babel moment” when countries were acting more in isolation than as a team. And with the grappling for things like PPE amid diminished supply, “the world became balkanized,” Johnson added.

Canada’s Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra have already signalled Canada’s interest in collaborating with G7 counterparts on vaccine passports for international travel. Several of the G7 countries are part of the EU, which is moving ahead with its Digital Green Pass for COVID certification, potentially as early as July 1.

Johnson noted that he and Trudeau “agree across a huge range of things.”

The G7 includes the U.S., and President Biden will at the G7 Summit next month.

Last Friday morning, during an interview on Good Morning America, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the Biden administration was taking “a very close look” at the possibility of vaccine passports for travel into and out of the United States.

However by Friday afternoon the Department of Homeland Security was clarifying Mayorkas’ statement. The DHS says there won’t be any federal vaccination database nor any mandate that requires people to get a single vaccination credential. It also said there are no plans for anything like a U.S. passport.

A DHS spokesperson says the agency is looking at how to ensure Americans traveling abroad have a quick and easy way to enter other countries. The DHS statement said Mayorkas was referring to “ensuring that all U.S. travellers will be able to easily meet any anticipated foreign country entry requirements.” It did not elaborate on how that would be accomplished. And it did not directly address the question of vaccine passports.

With file from The Associated Press