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Why Canada's vaccination rate is so important to many Western New Yorkers

According to Canada's vaccine tracker, 40 percent of Canadians have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — After nearly a year and a half, there is some easing of restrictions at the U.S.-Canada border.

The changes that went into effect Monday impact only Canadians who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Seventy-five percent – that's the number of eligible people that the Canadian government wants to get fully vaccinated before there's a big easing of restrictions at the border.

So where do they stand now?

According to the country's vaccine tracker – 40 percent of Canadians 12 years old and older are fully vaccinated -- 78 percent have received at least one dose.

"I'll tell you our second vaccines are moving very aggressively," said Niagara Falls, Ontario Mayor Jim Diodati, who is hopeful there will be more border restriction lifted later this month.

Diodati added, "The projected date is July 21st from the federal government, so far it looks like we're tracking to hit that number and it's our objective it's our hope that by July the 21st that the border is reopened at least to people fully vaccinated."

But for now, only certain restrictions have been lifted for fully vaccinated Canadians. No longer will they have to quarantine when they return back to Canada nor do they have to take a COVID test on the eighth day back in Canada. They still have to get a COVID test before going back. Some tourism officials on our side of the border think that the changes could result in Canadians deciding to have longer term stays here.

Whenever the border does reopen for more non-essential traffic, Diodati believes there will be a blast from the past, with long lines of traffic at the border.

"I think there's going to be a little bit of pandemonium because there's built up pent up demand people are dying to do all the things that they've been doing without for the last year a half," Diodati said.

Restrictions on non-essential traffic heading to Canada expire on July 21st.
We'll have to see if those restrictions get extended or not.

There are some who believe that Canada’s 75 percent vaccination rate threshold is arbitrary, such as Congressman Brian Higgins who says anyone who is fully vaccinated should be able to cross.