Chris Storey, a prosthodontist based in London, Ont., booked a flight to Barbados on July 29.
Storey, who is fully vaccinated, wanted to visit family in Barbados.
But after booking the week-long trip, Storey learned he would be required to find hotel accommodations for five days to wait for his COVID-19 test results — something vaccinated travellers are not asked to do in Barbados.
Storey said that’s when he called the Consulate General of Barbados in Toronto to ask about the country’s vaccine policies and was told he was not vaccinated “in the eyes of Barbados,” because he didn’t receive the same vaccine for both doses.
Vaccines approved by Barbados include AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson, according to the government’s website. But nowhere does it note that vaccine mixtures are not seen as valid.
Storey had received Pfizer for his first dose and Moderna for his second, which was the only available option to him at the time.
“I said, well they’re both mRNA vaccines … as far as the Ministry of Health in Canada’s concerned, we’re vaccinated,” Storey said. “It’s very frustrating, it’s ridiculous.”
“Do I just cancel my trip, or do I go five days early?” he said.”It’s an extra five days of hotel bills to pay for rather than staying with my sister.”
Vaccinated travellers in Barbados are required to stay at a hotel upon arriving up to 24 hours until they get their negative PCR test results back. Unvaccinated visitors, however, must stay in their hotel rooms until they receive their test results on day five.
While Canadians are allowed to travel, the Government of Canada continues to urge citizens to avoid non-essential travel outside of the country, according to its website.
“We continue to advise Ontarians that mixing of the mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, as well as mixing Astrazeneca and an mRNA vaccine is safe, it’s effective, and it enables people to get their second dose sooner,” said Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe on Tuesday.
In a release on Tuesday, the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) also urged Londoners to get vaccinated as soon as they can.
Health officials point to the increasing prevalence of the Delta variant and the rate at which COVID-19 continues to affect those who remain unvaccinated.
“Studies from across Europe continue to indicate that mixing vaccines is safe and produces a strong immune response,” said Dr. Chris Mackie, Medical Officer of Health at the MLHU.
“Regardless of which vaccine you received for your first dose, getting a second dose as soon as possible is the most important thing you can do to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and potentially spreading COVID-19 to your friends or loved ones.”