British Columbia's top doctor is 'confident' Canadians with mixed doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be able to travel to the U.S.

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British Columbia Minister of Health Adrian Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, speak to the media on the novel coronavirus in Vancouver, British Columbia, January 31, 2020. - Currently, there is only one confirmed case of 2019-nCoV in British Columbia, Canada. The man in his fourties, who traveled to Wuhan, China, is reportedly doing well and being actively monitored. The World Health Organization declared on January 30, 2020 that the coronavirus is a public health emergency of international concern. (Photo by Don MacKinnon / AFP) / The erroneous mention appearing in the metadata of this photo by Don MacKinnon has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [The World Health Organization declared on January 30, 2020 that the coronavirus is a public health emergency of international concern.] and not as previously written. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention from all your online services and delete it from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo by DON MACKINNON/AFP via Getty Images)
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Following the decision by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that Canadians who received the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine can visit the U.S. when new travel rules come into effect next month, Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia's provincial health officer, said she is "confident" that individuals who received mixed doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be allowed to travel as well. 

"They had a very structured approach to how they were providing immunization in the U.S and it was really following the manufacturer's recommendation," Dr. Henry said at a press conference on Tuesday. "We have taken a more flexible approach using what we knew about immunology."

"In Canada, we are one of the countries that is leading the world in publishing this data about the effectiveness of the mix and match schedules... I am confident, although I can’t guarantee it, but I know that my colleagues in the U.S are looking at these, seeing that it works and seeing that it might be important for the U.S., as well, as they’re starting to introduce booster doses." 

Dr. Henry specifically referenced concerns around whether a booster dose is needed for those in the U.S. who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, and whether it would be best for them to receive a booster dose of an mRNA vaccine, like the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.

"I also think globally this is really important," B.C.'s provincial health officer said. "We don’t want countries to have to hold doses back or wait for a manufacturer to be able to give people the full protection they need."

A sign is seen outside a store to remind customers to wear masks in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on Aug. 25, 2021. British Columbia's public health order requiring masks in most indoor public settings came into effect Wednesday, in an effort to combat the Delta variant and a fourth wave of COVID-19. (Photo by Liang Sen/Xinhua via Getty Images)
A sign is seen outside a store to remind customers to wear masks in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on Aug. 25, 2021. British Columbia's public health order requiring masks in most indoor public settings came into effect Wednesday, in an effort to combat the Delta variant and a fourth wave of COVID-19. (Photo by Liang Sen/Xinhua via Getty Images)

Masking will be required 'for a while longer'

Looking locally, Dr. Henry indicated that she believes masking will "need to be with us for a while longer."

"We know, and now there’s some good evidence that keeps coming up, that even in fully vaccinated populations, when you’re crowded together indoors for a period of time, it makes it safer for everybody to be wearing masks," she said.

In line with that, the public mask mandate in B.C. is changing and will require anyone age five and older to wear a mask in all indoor settings.

Dr. Henry said officials are "very concerned" about the COVID-19 situation in B.C.'s north.

"COVID-19 is spreading at higher than average rate," Dr. Henry said about that region. "People are becoming severely ill, even young people, mostly unvaccinated younger people, and hospitals are pushed to the limit across the north."

"We need to get back to the basics, the things that we know prevent transmission of this virus, this virus that we transmit to the people we are closest to."

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