Mixed dose woes: Some Canadians lost out on jobs abroad due to their mixed vaccines
Having a mixed COVID-19 vaccine — two shots but with different vaccines — may do more than impede your travel plans. It could hurt your chances of working abroad.
Several countries don't recognize people with mixed doses as being fully vaccinated.
That's the general position in the United States where the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) currently doesn't condone mixing COVID-19 vaccines.
Canadians can fly to the U.S. without showing proof of vaccination. However, many cruise lines departing the country have vaccination requirements — which are based on CDC guidelines.
As a result, some Canadian cruise ship workers say they lost out on jobs because they weren't considered fully vaccinated due to their mixed vaccines.
"It was really heartbreaking," said dancer Rosie Harbans of Toronto who performs in cruise ship shows. "This is how I make my money. This is how I live my life. This is my livelihood."
Last year, Harbans' cruise ship contract was cut short after the pandemic forced the cruise industry to shut down in March 2020.
So she was thrilled to land a job starting next month with a cruise line. But she said her joy — and her job offer — disappeared after the cruise company learned she had mixed COVID-19 doses: one Pfizer and one Moderna.
"I was very, very upset, because I thought that getting a mixed vaccine was the right thing to do," said Harbans.
Cruise ship dancer, Rosie Harbans of Toronto said she was heartbroken to discover she couldn't accept a job on a cruise ship because she has a mixed COVID-19 vaccine. (Yasmin Parodi)
To protect their future employment, CBC News has agreed to not name the cruise line involved in Harbans' case or in the case of a second cruise ship entertainer interviewed for this story.
Both said they don't blame the cruise lines, and that they are speaking out to encourage the Canadian government to push for the acceptance of mixed vaccines internationally.
"Find a solution," said Harbans. "Try and do it as quickly as possible for all of the people that took [the government's] advice in getting a mixed vaccine." Since mid-July, the federal government has repeatedly said it's working with other countries to resolve their differing vaccine policies. But Ottawa has yet to announce any progress on that front.
No international consensus on mixed vaccines
Millions of Canadians have received mixed COVID-19 vaccines. That's because in June, Canada updated its guidelines to recommend mixing COVID-19 vaccine doses based on emerging research that found it was both safe and effective.
But there's currently no international consensus on mixing COVID-19 vaccines.
For example, according to their government websites, both Ireland andthe United Kingdom don't recognize any combination of mixed COVID-19 vaccines. Germany andTrinidad and Tobago only recognize a mix of AstraZeneca and Pfizer or Moderna. The World Health Organization (WHO) takes the same position — with a cautionary note.
"There is currently limited data on the immunogenicity or efficacy of a 'mix and match' [COVID-19 vaccine] regimen," the WHO said in a statement.