PEI

No P.E.I. health card? Don't plan on getting vaccinated on the Island

Officials say a P.E.I. health card is required to get vaccinated in the province, and that has some Island property owners worried they'll have to leave to get their shots.  

Ontario couple riding out pandemic on P.E.I. worried they'll have to head home for shots

Cathy Lanktree and David Potter are residents of Ontario, but have been living at their other home on P.E.I. because of COVID-19. (Submitted by Cathy Lanktree)

Officials say a P.E.I. health card is required to get vaccinated in the province, and that has some Island property owners worried they'll have to leave to get their shots. 

Cathy Lanktree and David Potter own a home in St. Peters, but are permanent residents in Ontario.  

While they typically spend just "two or three weeks at a time" on P.E.I. throughout the spring and summer, the pandemic has changed their routine. They've been here since last July. 

"We thought we'd be home for Thanksgiving, then maybe Christmas, and then we just continued to stay because we feel a lot safer here," said Lanktree.

"It just feels dangerous to go back to Ontario because there's still so many cases, and so much community spread."

'Somewhat surprised'

Lanktree and Potter, who are 62 and 70, assumed initially they'd be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine on P.E.I. when their age groups become eligible. 

That changed in early January, when Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison told CBC the province's share of the federal vaccine supply is "based on our year-round residents population" and "does not include our fairly substantial number of seasonal residents that come here."

Nobody's asking to get in front of the line or back of the line. It's just, if you got any left over, hey we're still here.​​​​— David Potter

"We were somewhat surprised," said Lanktree. "The rollout should be available to Canadians, regardless of where you happen to be.… The reason we're here is we feel much safer here, and we don't want to leave because of the safeness here."

Potter says given the fact some Islanders will likely choose to not to get the vaccine, there should be enough to go around. 

"All we're saying is, if there's a refusal rate, and there's 1,000 people extra here right now because of COVID, why can't we participate in that?" he said. 

"Nobody's asking to get in front of the line or back of the line. It's just, if you got any left over, hey we're still here."

P.E.I.'s Health Department said at least right now, only those with a P.E.I. health card are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine on the Island. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

But in an email to CBC, a spokesperson for the province's Health Department said at least right now, only those with a P.E.I. health card are eligible for the vaccine here. 

"However, anyone who has been residing in the province for greater than three months should be applying for a P.E.I. health card, which may apply to some Canadians who came to P.E.I. and decided to stay in the province," the spokesperson said. 

Lanktree worries that would limit her access to health care in Ontario. 

"You can't hold a health card from two provinces. And I don't want to give up my Ontario health card," she said. "That's my primary residence. I have a doctor there. I don't have a doctor here. I'd be afraid to give up my Ontario health card because of that."

The province has hinted that its vaccine eligibility rules may change, depending on vaccine supply. 

"As more vaccine becomes available in P.E.I. and across the country, we will be able to offer vaccine to a broader population," the spokesperson said. 

Lanktree and Potter said they are torn on what to do if vaccines are offered to them back in Ontario. 

"It's difficult to say," said Lanktree. "If we got a notification that we could go back in a month or two, we'd think about it very seriously, weigh the pros and cons and the safeness of that."

More from CBC P.E.I.

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