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Ontario Public Health Units 'Prepared' To Make Their Own Vax Passports, Says A Top Doctor

If the province doesn't come through on them first.

Toronto Associate Editor
Ontario Public Health Units May Make Their Own Vaccine Passports, Says A Top Doctor

If Ontario continues to resist implementing a provincewide vaccine passport, local public health units may take matters into their own hands.

In an interview with CBC NEWS on August 26, Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, the president of the Association of Local Public Health Agencies of Ontario, said his colleagues are in favour of pursuing a local approach to vaccine passports after meeting on Wednesday.

"Yes, we are prepared to do that. However, you can imagine that if we do it and Ottawa doesn't and vice versa … a patchwork is not right," Roumeliotis, who is also the medical officer of health for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, told CBC.

"So if we were to do it in the absence of a provincial direction, if we were to do it locally, I would want to do it with a big region where we have ourselves, Ottawa, Renfrew, even all the way through Kingston," he added.

However, Roumeliotis also told CTV Ottawa that a provincial vaccine passport would be the best option.

"That's a fallback to us, we would prefer a provincial approach because we don't want to have variabilities and we don't want to have different approaches," he said in the Thursday interview. "I know my colleagues in Hamilton, and the Toronto area are working at it as well."

According to Roumeliotis, many groups are already on board to implement it regionally. "We had a meeting with all of us — we have a weekly one — and really, we're all on board. The [Ontario science] advisory table also is on board, we know businesses are on board, we know the Chambers of Commerce are on board, so this makes absolute sense to us both from the economic point of view, from the societal point of view, and from the public health point of view," he said to CTV.

He also noted that they're actively speaking with the province about the need for vaccine passports and would "like to see something in the fall."

On Wednesday, August 25, Roumeliotis told Narcity in an email that he is observing more agencies, institutions and businesses asking for proof of vaccination to be mandated, and said that "it is inevitable that the province will issue some form of official standardized proof of vaccination."

However, a spokesperson for Ontario's Ministry of Health disagreed. "This is not accurate," the representative began. "Since the start of our vaccine rollout, Ontarians have had the ability to download or print an electronic COVID-19 vaccine receipt through the provincial portal, or by calling the provincial booking line, should proof of vaccination be required in a certain setting."

Last month, Premier Doug Ford said Ontario wouldn't adopt vaccine passports due to concerns of creating a "split society."

Narcity reached out to Roumeliotis for comment but did not hear back before this article was published.

Health Canada has a robust website with all the latest information on COVID-19 vaccines and can answer any questions you may have.

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