Patsy Nunes was happy to have the AstraZeneca vaccine when she called last April to look for appointments, and she’s happy to have it now.
She just wants US officials to be as happy about her two-dose combo as she is.
With a dose of AstraZeneca and a dose of Pfizer, she and her husband are unsure whether they will still be able to visit their parents in North Carolina next month after land-border restrictions.
With news that plans to reopen the US land border do not yet suggest whether people who have received two different doses of the COVID-19 vaccine can travel to the US, Nunes is wondering whether Mixed-dose recipients like him will never be recognized. Basically in the form of people who had two doses of the same vaccine.
She also wonders whether a third dose could eventually be part of the solution.
“I got my AstraZeneca because we were told, and I believe it’s good that we were told, to provide us with the first vaccine,” Nunes said. “It is unfortunate that all these people who did exactly as we were told are in a situation where we may not be able to cross the border. It never occurred to me that (my vaccine) would not be accepted elsewhere.”
She says she’s still happy to have Pfizer as a second dose — because evidence shows she’ll be as safe as someone receiving two doses of the same vaccine.
Officials in the US announced this week that the country would open its land border to people from Canada and Mexico, who have been fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccine. But, officials have said the CDC is still discussing whether foreigners can enter Canada or Mexico taking two doses of different vaccines.
This leaves more than 3.88 million Canadians who received two different doses of the vaccine in limbo while US health officials try to figure out what to do. About 1.5 million of those people had AstraZeneca as the first dose, and have already gone through a logistical challenge as various provinces have stopped giving AstraZeneca in favor of mRNA vaccines.
In Nunes’ case, border closures have separated him and his family from other close family members in the US since March 2020 in Cambridge Ontario. Her parents, Harry and Mary Lee, live in a retirement home in Mamlin, North Carolina, and are both in good health, in their 80s.
Meanwhile, Nunes’ daughter has had two children since the pandemic began – and the whole family would love to meet the great-grandparents and the new couple.
Right now, it looks more likely that fully vaccinated parents of nuns will travel to Canada than the other way around. But Nunes, 60, said she would like the option of traveling in the other direction, even if it’s just for peace of mind.
Kelly Green, who is from Whitby and in the same condition as Nunes, with one dose of AstraZeneca and one dose of an mRNA vaccine, said she also does not regret her vaccine choice, but wishes she didn’t. Fallen. Too much uncertainty about the trip now.
She canceled an Alaska cruise because of the pandemic, and is still unsure about when she’ll be able to use the credit for the vacation. Not that she wants to run to the border crossing right away, but hearing about data from US officials at the CDC she at least wants to know where she stands.
“I’m still glad I did that at the time. I feel safe, I feel safe,” she said. “I think we’re all kind of thinking that in some kind of normalcy What would be our next steps to go back? (My vaccine combination) works within Canada – what happens when we want to move beyond the US?”
She, like Nunes, wondered whether a third dose might be offered to mixed-dose recipients at some point, if mixed-dose continues unrecognized.
Canadian public health officials are providing CDC in the U.S. with data on the effectiveness of mixed vaccine doses in the Canadian population, so that vaccine combinations can be recognized for travel purposes.
As of Wednesday, the CDC website still stated that “data on the safety and efficacy of the mixed product series is limited. Both dosages of the series must be completed with a single product.”
Nunes said that, if it turns out that the US will not recognize the mixed dose, she thinks it would be appropriate for Canadian health officials to offer a third dose of the vaccine to mixed dose recipients, as all were given boosters. Those who medically need one.
“I hope what they say is true that they are in serious talks to get those vaccines approved,” she said. “But if they don’t or if it’s a long delay I think it would be fair to offer us a third dose.”