National Newswatch

MONTREAL — The Canadian government is looking at a plan to reopen the United States border to people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Quebec Premier François Legault said Friday. 

Legault told reporters at an event in Laval, Que., the reopening could happen when current border restrictions expire on July 21.

“We had a meeting by telephone yesterday evening, the premiers of the provinces with Mr. Trudeau," Legault said. "We’re looking at reopening starting July 21, a scenario is being considered to reopen the borders, but one of the important conditions is to have had two doses, so complete vaccination."

Legault said fully vaccinated Canadians will also be able to travel internationally. 

"It’s clear that either you get a double dose of AstraZeneca, or double dose of Moderna, or Pfizer or a mix of double doses, (and) you will have access to international flights,” he said. 

Asked about the possibility that Quebecers who have received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine would not be allowed into some events in the United States, such as Broadway shows, Legault said he couldn't control what happens there.

However, he said, Quebec isn't planning to allow the use of proof of vaccination for people to access private activities, like concerts, in the province.

Legault's government had encouraged people 45 and over to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine before it stopped administering first doses of the vaccine due to concerns about rare blood clots and with increased availability of other vaccines.  

The province has sent mixed messages in recent days about whether people who have received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine should get a second dose of the same vaccine or opt for one of the others.

On Friday, Legault insisted what's most important is that people who have received a first dose of AstraZeneca get a booster shot — no matter which vaccine they choose.

Legault said public health has advised that for people who have received a first dose of AstraZeneca, getting a dose of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna as a booster may offer slightly more protection, while increasing the risk of temporary side-effects.

Quebec's public health institute said Friday that 79.8 per cent of residents over 12 have received at least one dose of vaccine and 16.8 per cent of residents are now adequately vaccinated. 

The province reported 127 new cases of COVID-19 Friday and two more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.

Health officials said hospitalizations decreased by three to 175, while 39 people were listed in intensive care, a drop of two.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 18, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press

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