What will it take for Canada to consider three doses of COVID-19 vaccines fully vaccinated for travel?

Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam puts on a mask at a news conference held to discuss the country's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. November 6, 2020. REUTERS/Patrick Doyle (Patrick Doyle / reuters)

At a press conference on Friday, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, fielded questions around what it would take for Canada to change the definition of a "fully vaccinated" traveller from two doses to three doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

"We do think that three doses are important and I think that should be clearly stated, but the timing of the booster dose is such that it might be quite different for different groups of people," Dr. Tam said. "I think the recommendation for different age groups could be slightly different, and then you have to think about people who have also had an infection and they then need to ideally wait a number of weeks, and maybe three months, before they get their booster shot."

"The rest of the world, not only have they not had access to boosters, many countries haven’t in fact had even two doses... At this moment in time, it’s staying at the primary series of two doses. If there comes a time where a very severe variant is coming up and we know it’s spreading, the border measures could always be re-examined from that perspective as well."

Canada’s chief public health officer indicated that nationwide, while Canada has seen weeks of declining COVID-19 activity, average daily case counts are "levelling off."

"Hospitalization could certainly come up when cases go up," Dr, Tam said. "However, it is expected that, that increase in hospitalization would be less than what we just saw."

"The public strategy is moving away from mandates to recommendation, and to use all manner of other means to increase coverage for the boosters, in terms of many different strategies to reach the under-immunized... There’s just a general trend to move away from mandating to recommendation and making more and more effort to have the recommendation."

Additionally, Canada’s chief public health officer said Canadians, who are assessing their personal COVID-19 risk, should consider maintaining personal protections, including continuing to wear a "well-constructed, well-fitting mask," even when it's not required.