Issues and Experts

Canadian snowbirds complicate the COVID-19 vaccine rollout - SFU experts available

January 14, 2021

Simon Fraser University professors Valorie Crooks and Jeremy Snyder say that despite rising COVID-19 cases and travel restrictions, the return later this spring of those Canadian ‘snowbirds’ who travelled earlier – more than 375,000 travel annually to the U.S. and Mexico – will likely further complicate Canada’s pandemic response, including its vaccine rollout. 

The researchers, experts in medical geography and tourism, outline the potential complications in a column published today on Healthy Debate and can provide further comment on the issue. They note that aging adults who typically head south when winter weather arrives could have an impact on vaccine registries, tracking vaccinations and timing of the two-dose process, particularly if some receive the first dose in the U.S. and the second in Canada. Crooks suggest health authorities and leaders could start addressing the issue by reaching out to snowbird communities and associations. 

“For the last several years we’ve been researching the health care impacts of this annual migration, which are significant,” says SFU professor Valorie Crooks. “The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new complexities to how these snowbirds may opt to manage their health while abroad, one of which pertains to vaccine access. Recognizing that many popular snowbird destinations in the U.S. have health systems that are already overwhelmed by managing the demands of the current pandemic, here we consider some of the ethical and equity implications of Canadian snowbirds accessing the COVID-19 vaccine while abroad.”


Valorie Crooks, Canada Research Chair in Health Service Geographies,

Jeremy Snyder, professor, health sciences, 


MELISSA SHAW, SFU  Communications & Marketing 
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Simon Fraser University 
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