False COVID-19 Vaccine Exemptions Could Be a Problem, Ontario Officials Say

False exemptions could be a problem when Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine certificate system goes into effect at restaurants, bars, sports stadiums and other venues next Wednesday, authorities say.

The province will require a written document from a physician or nurse practitioner stating that the carrier is medically exempt from being fully vaccinated, but such a note could be forged and easily presented upon entering a business, senior government personnel told the journalists during a background briefing on Tuesday. .

“We all recognize that fraud is a possibility,” said one official after being asked if people who opposed vaccines and the certificate system could use their computers to print exemption notes on fake letterhead.

The briefing took place before an evening press conference by Health Minister Christine Elliott and others.

The exemption notes must contain the name and contact information of the physician or nurse practitioner.

Officials said the reasons for the exemptions must be “truly legitimate” and that eligible conditions will be released soon.

“It’s a pretty tight list,” said a medical official.

The vaccine certificate system will require restaurant staff and other affected businesses to verify that customers have been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days, and may include vaccines not approved by Health Canada, such as Russia’s Sputnik vaccine.

In those cases, individuals must have received three doses of the vaccine not approved by Health Canada, or one dose of such vaccine followed by an injection of Pfizer or Moderna.

It’s unclear how employees asked to verify vaccination status will be able to determine whether foreign vaccine certificates are legitimate, especially if they are in a language other than English.

Just over 78 percent of eligible Ontario residents age 12 and older have received two injections.

At least 718,000 first doses and 1.5 million second doses still need to be administered to reach the goal of 90 percent of those eligible to be fully vaccinated, authorities said. At the current rate, that would take another six weeks.

In the first seven days after Prime Minister Doug Ford announced his vaccine certificate system, vaccines increased 33 percent.


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