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Survey reveals one in five vaccine-hesitant Canadians would lie about jab to travel

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A new survey suggests about 20 per cent of vaccine-hesitant Canadians would lie about their COVID-19 vaccine history if injections were required for international or domestic travel.

The 2021 Smart Traveller Survey, conducted by the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THIA), found that 14 per cent of Canadians are not interested in getting the vaccine, and among those, about 20 per cent would lie about it if vaccines were a requirement for travel or entry into large events.

Will McAleer, THIA’s executive director and spokesperson, said the number of people willing to lie about their vaccine history is somewhat expected given the amount of people already caught faking documentation to travel during the pandemic. 

“We saw a virtual cottage industry in the international travel space with fake COVID-19 tests, the PCR tests that are required in order to get back into the country,” he said in a recent phone interview with CTVNews.ca. “All around the globe, there were fake ones popping up just so people could travel.”

As recently as May, news emerged that two travellers were slapped with $9,000 in combined fines after presenting COVID-19 test results upon arrival at the Toronto airport, while other travellers have also been fined and charged after presenting fake documents while trying to enter Canada.

The survey also found that 31 per cent of unvaccinated Canadians would get a COVID-19 vaccine if it were required for international travel. 

McAleer said this information could be useful when it comes to getting more Canadians vaccinated.

“What we're saying is it could be an interesting way for the government to use a good carrot approach to getting people vaccinated by just saying: ‘Hey, look, in order to travel, you're going to need to provide proof of vaccination,’” he said.

“If it's a reality out there among many of the countries Canadians travel to, it makes sense for government to recognize that and to leverage it as best they can.”

Several countries, including Greece, Denmark, France, the Bahamas and Barbados, already require proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative COVID-19 test for entry. Newfoundland and Labrador is also preparing to allow fully vaccinated Canadians into the province beginning on July 1.

“What we're seeing is there is a swift and full movement toward this type of proof in various forms,” McAleer said. “It's likely that they're going to be some digital technologies that get put in place. The Canadian government and provincial governments are going to have to figure out how we get our proof of vaccines.”

Vaccine proof for international travel is nothing new. Most African and Asian countries already require proof of vaccination against yellow fever before entering, depending from where the traveller is arriving.

Other parts of the world also require proof of vaccination against polio and meningococcal meningitis.

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