FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Please find answers to common questions below. If you require more information, contact us!

Frequently asked questions

COVID testing

How do I book an in person appointment for a COVID-19 PCR test?


Some parts of the online booking process are not intuitive. If you get stuck, here are the steps: 1) choose the specific appointment type eg 'book covid test' from the options at the bottom of the TravelHealthMD.ca homepage 2) choose to speak to a physician 'in-clinic' 3) choose 'for myself' 4) select the Travel Clinic at McMaster Downtown Ambulatory Care 5) select private COVID testing (will outline in red once selected) 6) select Dr. Ashleigh McCullagh-Cheung 7) select date and time from calendar 8) click sign up to WellHealth 9) complete the fields with asterisks and tick checkbox on the WellHealth sign up page 10) Enter credit/debit payment information 11) select 'click to confirm appointment'




Will COVID-19 PCR testing be acceptable for my trip?


PCR testing is acceptable by ALL immigration authorities worldwide. It is the gold standard for diagnosing COVID-19. This is required by most countries worldwide, regardless of whether or not someone has been double vaccinated. The reason for this is it is still possible to be an asymptomatic carrier of the virus and make other people sick when someone is double-vaccinated.




When should I get my COVID-19 PCR test?


This varies by immigration authority. Typically 48-72h pre-departure. If in doubt, please email us for advice.




Do all countries require a COVID-19 test before travel?


No- some common destinations for Canadians eg Dominican Republic, Mexico and Cuba do not require testing currently. This is subject to change. These countries currently require the traveller to complete an attestation that they do not have symptoms.

USA requires a test for travelers via plane and not by land border.




How much does it cost to get a COVID-19 test?


PCR testing is available for $99 per person. Antigen testing is available for $50 per person.




What is the turnaround time for COVID-19 tests?


For PCR testing, it takes max 24h to get a result via email. Typically tests done are resulted by 8.30am latest the day after the test. For antigen testing, results are available while you wait, in 15-20 minutes.




When are tests offered?


Currently Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday during the day.




Can I get a COVID-19 PCR test at the clinic if I have symptoms?


No. Instead, you should book an appointment at the assessment centre at Mohawk College at hamiltoncovidtest.ca




Where do you take the swab from?


You have 3 options for PCR tests:

  1. Nasopharyngeal swab (same as what is done at the COVID assessment centers)- this samples the top of the throat- typically makes people’s eyes water a little- you may experience a burning sensation

  2. Combination Buccal swab and nasal swab- this samples the area between the lower teeth and gums and then the front of each nostril- typically tickles and you may sneeze

  3. Nasal swab alone

You have 2 options for antigen tests:

1. Nasopharyngeal swab (see above)

2. Nasal swab alone




How long does it take to get the swab sample?


Under 1 minute




Should I get a PCR test if I recently tested positive for COVID-19?


It is possible to test positive on a COVID-19 PCR test for up to 4 months after being infected with COVID-19.




Where can I find out if I need to do a COVID-19 test and what test is required for my trip?


I subscribe to travel medicine software (Shoreland Travax) which is updated multiple times a week. The other website with reliable information is the Air Canada Sherpa website





General

What is a travel clinic?


A travel clinic is a place to receive health relevant to staying healthy while abroad. Dr. McCullagh-Cheung provides tailored health advice relevant to your specific travel itinerary. She personalises each consult by taking into account your health history and chronic conditions (if applicable) when prescribing as well as your level of comfort with international travel. Some common topics of discussion include prevention of infectious diseases (via vaccination if relevant or avoidance measures), traveller’s diarrhea and altitude sickness. At the end of the consult, if vaccines are recommended, you can choose to have these administered at the clinic (we stock vaccines on site) by our nurse. You will be provided with copies of prescriptions to take to a pharmacy of your choice (if relevant) and a copy of your consult note.




Who should see a travel health specialist?


Dr. McCullagh-Cheung will see anyone who wants travel-related health advice. Some examples of types of trips she has counselled on include: parents travelling with small children, backpacking and leisure trips, business trips and cruise travel. Most people choose to get this once they have booked their trips; others prefer input at the trip-planning stage.




How are consults offered?


In person appointments are offered on Tuesdays or Fridays (9-4) or virtually (with daytime, evening and weekend availability), whatever works best for you. If you choose a virtual consult and require vaccine administration, we can arrange for these to be done at a local pharmacy or you can come into the clinic and have these administered by our nurse.




When is a good time to book my travel consult?


Ideally, 4-6 weeks but we can often accommodate people closer to their travel date if this is not possible.




I don’t have extended health insurance. Medications are cheap at my destination. Should I buy them there?


Unfortunately, worldwide there are issues with counterfeit medications. Also, there are ethical issues with depleting supplies meant for nationals of the destination country, for example, in the case of taking antimalarials where some medications are used both for prevention and treatment at different doses.




Do I need a referral to be seen?


No referral is needed.




If I am behind on my standard public health vaccinations e.g. Tetanus, can I get this at the travel clinic?


Yes, we carry the standard public health vaccines and will be happy to update these for you while you are here. Just be sure to have your OHIP card with you.




How many times will I need to be seen?


Usually once. If you choose to initiate a vaccine series, you may be encouraged to book a follow up to complete the series with our nurse.




What if I have a complex health issue?


We will certainly consider this when prescribing. If you take certain medications eg biologics, it is recommended that live vaccines such as Yellow fever and MMR be avoided. It is important to note that some medications which are prescribed in Canada are banned in other countries- this can be the case with opiates as well as some ADHD medications. As such, it is always a good idea to check with the Consulate of the country you are travelling to. For the most part, medications for the duration of your travel are permitted so long as they are in their original packaging with the name and dosage of medication as well as prescriber clearly marked.




How is COVID-19 affecting travel?


The pandemic is certainly changing our travel habits. Many travel insurance companies will not offer coverage for COVID19- related illness. Community tranmission at travel destinations can change rapidly. If you choose to travel outside of Canada at this time, there is a federal requirement to quarantine for 14 days post-travel. There may also be requirements to quarantine for a period on arrival in the destination country. You will be required to obtain a COVID-19 test prior to your trip, prior to your return journey as well as when you return to Canada.




Will my family physician be updated on the vaccines I received at the clinic?


Yes, continuity of care is important so we will do this if you provide us with your family doctor's name/contact information. We will also provide you with an updated vaccine record.




I have family at my travel destination. I grew up there. Do I really need to go to a travel clinic?


Depending on where you are travelling to, you may benefit from precautions such as taking antimalarials if you are travelling to a malaria-endemic area. This is because immunity you may have built up from years of exposure will have waned even in the first year or two after leaving your country. If you have children that were born in Canada, they will have no natural immunity to diseases such as malaria, hepatits A or typhoid.




I would like to get an idea of what vaccines I might need for my destination. Where can I find this information?


Take a look at the blog entry titled 'What vaccines do I need?' This particular entry provides info on discussion topics/recommended vaccines for 10 of the most popular destinations for travellers visiting our clinic.




I lost one of my COVID-19 vaccination certificates. How can I get proof of my COVID-19 vaccines?


Visit the Ontario COVID vaccination website. You will need to have your OHIP number on hand. With this, you can get a copy of your first and second doses of vaccine regardless of whether or not you received these at a pharmacy, mass vaccination clinic, hospital or doctor's office.




I would like to have a video appointment. What browser works best?


We recommend logging into your video appointment using chrome where possible.