Requiring proof of vaccination for entry into another country is not a new idea. There are regulations that need to be followed to set up a “vaccine passport” in relation to international travel (International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005))
At present the World Health Organization does not recommend vaccine passports for international travel, but they are working on a standard Smart Vaccination Certificate technical specification and standards to allow for harmonised processes to include COVID-19 vaccines into an updated version of the IHR (2005)
Countries around the world are beginning to put vaccine passports into place for international travel, as well as in some countries within country travel and access to services or businesses including Israel, France, Italy, Denmark, and the EU
The Canadian Federal government is supportive of a vaccine passport for international travel but recognize the issuing of vaccine passports will need to be province led
As of May 13, 2021, the province of Quebec has begun issuing a downloadable QR code that individual can keep on their smart phone.
As of June 9, 2021, the Federal government of Canada discussed easing restrictions for fully vaccinated Canadian citizens returning to the country
Ethical considerations in the use of vaccine passports include equitable access to vaccination (domestically and internationally), access to technology (eg. Smartphone passports), marginalization, or stigmatization especially among historically racialized groups, and socially isolated populations
Legal considerations include
o Clarifying who has the legal authority to require proof of vaccination,
o Ensuring that if new legislation is created and implemented it is in line with all pre-existing legislation (Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Human Rights Codes, privacy legislation, employment legislation),
o Ensuring that, if created by the government, there is coordination of the Provincial and Federal governments for international travel with respect to jurisdictional overlap, security of information, fraud
Health care facilities should be able to legally enact vaccination policies for patient-facing employees so long as they allow for exemptions due to medical inability or bona fide religious, or conscientious beliefs
Six in ten Canadians (61%) expect vaccine passports to be widely used in Canada by the end of 2021, the same proportion (61%) of Canadians also agreed that only vaccinated people should be allowed to engage in events involving larger crowds such as public transit, air travel, or attending cultural and sports events
Lashta E, von Tigerstrom B, Reeder B, Groot G; Miller, L; Mueller, M. What are the ethical/legal aspects of vaccine requirements? 2021 Jun 21, Document no.: EOC210503 RR. In: COVID-19 Rapid Evidence Reviews [Internet]. SK: SK COVID Evidence Support Team, c2021. 25 p. (CEST rapid review report).
A number of jurisdictions have re-opened schools successfully without a spike in COVID-19 cases, eg. Japan, Germany, France, Finland, Denmark, Austria, Norway
Most school plans indicate that staff/students/visitors who are sick or have had exposure to COVID-19 in the past 14 days should not attend school, and those that become symptomatic at school should be isolated and removed from the premises as soon as possible, with thorough cleaning thereafter
In Alberta, if two or more members of a cohort are found to be COVID-19 positive, schools should follow the outbreak procedures which are under review until September
In Nova Scotia, one confirmed case of COVID-19 in a school would be considered an outbreak
In Germany, classmates and teachers of an infected student are sent home for two weeks but other classes continue
Taiwan (based on the H1N1 response) suspends the class which had a confirmed case identified, for 14 days. With two or more cases the whole school must close. When 1/3 of the schools in a district are closed, all schools in the district must close.
In Israel, schools closed after a single case was identified , and following mass outbreaks in schools at least 355 schools had closed with over 2,026 students and staff testing positive and over 28,000 students in quarantine due to possible exposure
Badea, A; Muhajarine, N; Reeder, B; Miller, L; Mueller, M. What is the evidence and rationale describing the key public health principles to consider for school re-openings and precautions regarding school closures during COVID-19? 2020 Aug 17; Document no.: EOC070901 RR. In: COVID-19 Rapid Evidence Reviews [Internet]. SK: SK COVID Evidence Support Team, c2020. 22 p. (CEST rapid review report)