While the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) welcomes recent commitments to advance vaccine certificate systems across the country, we are concerned the current patchwork of initiatives is leading to inconsistency and confusion. The CMA is urging all governments to make the necessary commitments to ensure current and future vaccine certificate programs are interoperable across jurisdictions. This will optimize privacy and address potential barriers that may lead to inequitable access.
“In the absence of a consistent federal approach to vaccine certification, a patchwork has emerged across the country leading to confusion and inequalities,” says Dr. Katharine Smart, CMA president. “We know that high vaccination rates and consistent public health measures are our best tools. Vaccine certificates and mandates can help us on both fronts as they increase vaccine uptake and help protect more Canadians from COVID-19.”
The current situation presents several concerns. On one end of the spectrum, people in Quebec, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island and British Columbia will have vaccine certification systems, while those in Alberta and Saskatchewan will not. In Ontario, in the absence of a province wide system to date, public health units are considering taking on this role. Other provinces and territories have been quiet or vague on the issue.
“While it is commendable that various organizations are moving proactively to counter the threat posed by the Delta variant, we worry this approach will create an even more complex and inconsistent patchwork of rules, creating confusion for those it’s intended to support,” adds Dr. Smart. “We call on governments to develop clear and consistent standards for vaccine certification that meet public health objectives.”
The CMA believes vaccine certificates enhance public health measures by facilitating access to digital immunization records and reducing the exposure of those at risk. Certificates also provide key support for reopening efforts and contribute to reducing the need for more restrictive measures such as lockdowns.