Congressman wants to allow Canadian neighbors to make appointments in state
Congressman Brian Higgins, co-chair of the congressional northern border caucus and the Canada-U.S. interparliamentary group, is asking New York state to open up COVID-19 vaccine appointments to Canadians.
In a letter to the governor, Higgins wrote, “Western New Yorkers are anxious to see their Canadian family, friends, and neighbors. Sharing surplus vaccines should not just be about shipping vaccines around the world, but should also be about helping our closest neighbors. If there is excess supply of the vaccine, we should do everything in our power to see that those doses do not go to waste. The stakes of this pandemic are too high to do anything less.”
Higgins pointed out all 30 New York-operated vaccine sites are currently showing available appointments, plus nearly 50 retail pharmacy sites within a 50-mile radius of the Western New York border have available supply.
Several states, including North Dakota, Alaska, Washington and Montana, have recently allowed Canadian residents to receive the vaccine. The Public Health Agency of Canada is allowing Canadian residents to cross to get vaccinated without imposing quarantine restrictions.
The border between the U.S and Canada first closed to nonessential travel in March of 2020. For months, Higgins has been pushing to immediately expand the definition of essential traveler to include people with family or property across the border and to develop a plan to safely reopen the border more broadly by July. The congressman says sharing surplus supply will help get closer to that goal.
Higgins’ Western New York district includes the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls, borders Canada and is comprised of four international crossings.