Vax

A Peachland man's vaccination passport, dating back to the '60s, has been updated to show he's been inoculated against COVID-19. Canadians should expect new-style vaccination passports in the months ahead, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this week.

A Peachland man is ahead of the curve in the debate over vaccine passports. 

Richard Smith already has such a document - it was issued to him by the federal government in 1963.

The well-preserved booklet shows he's been inoculated against cholera and smallpox, which were required before he undertook long trips through Europe and North Africa decades ago.

And its most recent entry indicates he was vaccinated against COVID-19 on April 1, 2021.

"The people doing the clinic were pretty surprised when I took out my old vaccination passport and asked them to sign it," Smith, 78, said Wednesday. "They'd never seen one before.

"Of course, they didn't have a stamp or anything like that ready, so the nurse just crossed out 'Cholera', wrote 'COVID-19', and signed it," Smith said. "I think it'd be official enough when I do travel again. It's a federal document, after all."

The number of Canadians with COVID-19 inoculations is closing in on the 10 million mark, but polls also indicate "vaccine-hesitancy" is fairly widespread, with almost one-quarter not sure if they'll get a jab.

Questions have arisen about whether Canadians will be required to have vaccine passports before being allowed to travel in the post-pandemic era.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said vaccine passports are "to be expected" as a condition of travel in the future.

"As was the case pre-pandemic, certificates of vaccination are a part of international travel to certain regions and are naturally to be expected when it comes to this pandemic and the coronavirus," Trudeau said.

"How we actually roll that out in alignment with partners and allies around the world, it's something we are working on right now," he said.

The European Union is expected to announce soon that fully-vaccinated U.S. citizens will be able to travel to EU countries this summer. But Trudeau said Canadian officials remain focused, for now, on controlling the pace of new virus infections, getting people vaccinated as quickly as possible, and economic measures.

"We continue to plan for how we reopen the economy, how we reopen our borders, how we get back to normal," he said, adding there was no current timetable for the easing of travel restrictions.

For his part, Smith says he's looking forward to taking a trip to Skagway, Alaska when conditions permit.

And although he's got his 1963 vaccination passport updated to reflect his COVID-19 vaccinated status, he says he'll also get whatever new documentation is eventually made available.

"Somebody at a border might question my little 1963 book," he acknowledged. "It is kind of unorthodox."