COVID-19

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COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect you against COVID-19, which is a serious and sometimes fatal disease. The vaccines are safe and effective. 

What are COVID-19 vaccines?

COVID-19 vaccines protect against infection from the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19. The vaccines cause your body to produce antibodies that will help protect you from getting sick if exposed to the virus. The vaccines are approved by Health Canada. Currently, these are the COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada
 
  • Moderna (SpikevaxTM)
  • Pfizer-BioNTech (ComirnatyTM)
  • AstraZeneca (VaxzevriaTM)
  • Johnson & Johnson (JanssenTM)

Who should get the vaccines?
 
COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for those five years of age and older. More information, including how to register for the vaccine, can be found on the BCCDC website.
 
If you had or may have had COVID-19, you should still get the vaccine. This is because you may not be immune to the virus that causes COVID-19 and could get infected and sick again.

How are the vaccines given?

The vaccines are given by injection usually as one or two doses. If you received a vaccine requiring a two-dose series, it's important to get both doses of the vaccine for full protection. An additional dose of vaccine (a three-dose series) is recommended for some people with a moderately to severely compromised immune system. People who are immunocompromised will generally have lower antibody responses (less protection) from two COVID-19 vaccine doses. Studies show that giving a third dose can help these people make antibodies to protect them from COVID-19. To learn more, see Information for people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised.
 
A booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine is being provided to people who have completed their vaccine series to strengthen and provide longer protection against COVID-19 disease. The timing of your booster dose is based on your risk level for getting COVID-19, your age, and the amount of time since your second dose. Everyone 18 years and older will be invited to get a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine starting with people most at risk. To learn more, go to the Get your booster dose webpage.
 
It's important to keep a record of all immunizations received. Be sure to bring your immunization record with you when returning for your second dose.
 
What should I do after I get the vaccine?
 

Please read the COVID-19 Vaccination Aftercare page.

It's important to stay in the clinic for 15 minutes after getting any vaccine because about one in a million people can have a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This may include hives; difficulty breathing; or swelling of the throat, tongue, or lips. Should this reaction occur, your healthcare provider is prepared to treat it. Emergency treatment includes administration of epinephrine (adrenaline) and transfer by ambulance to the nearest emergency department. If symptoms develop after you leave the clinic, call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number. Always report serious or unexpected reactions to your healthcare provider. 

After you get the vaccine, continue to follow public health recommendations such as washing your hands or using hand sanitizer, physical distancing, and wearing a mask. 

What are the benefits of the vaccines?

The vaccines are the best way to protect you against COVID-19, which is a serious and sometimes fatal disease. In clinical trials, those who received a vaccine were 63% to 95% less likely to become sick with COVID-19 and were almost completely protected against severe illness (hospitalization and death). When you get immunized, you help protect others as well, including those who are unable to get the vaccine.

What are the possible reactions after the vaccines?

Vaccines are very safe. It's much safer to get the vaccine than to get COVID-19. The vaccines are not live virus vaccines and cannot give you COVID-19. 
 
Common reactions to the vaccines may include soreness, redness, swelling, and itchiness where the vaccine was given. For some people, these reactions may show up eight or more days after getting the vaccine. Other reactions may include tiredness, headache, fever, chills, muscle or joint soreness, swollen lymph nodes under the armpit, nausea, and vomiting. These reactions are mild and generally last one to two days. If you have concerns about any symptoms you develop after receiving the vaccine, speak with your healthcare provider or call 8-1-1 for advice.
 
Rare cases of serious blood clots (about 1 in 50,000) have been reported after getting the first dose of the AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccines. The rate after the second dose of the AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) vaccine is about 1 in 600,000. Those who choose not to get a second dose of the AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) vaccine will be able to get another COVID-19 vaccine , the Pfizer-BioNTech (Cominarty) or the Moderna (Spikevax) vaccine to complete their vaccine series.
 
Rare cases of inflammation of the heart (myocarditis and pericarditis) have been reported after getting the Pfizer-BioNTech (Cominarty) or the Moderna (Spikevax) vaccine. In BC, this has occurred at a rate of about 15 cases per million doses of vaccine, and is seen more often after the second dose and in males under 40 years of age.
 
Acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (e.g., Advil®) can be taken for fever or soreness. ASA (e.g., Aspirin®) should not be given to anyone under 18 years of age due to the risk of Reye Syndrome. For information on Reye Syndrome, see HealthLinkBC File #84 Reye Syndrome.
 
It's important to stay in the clinic for 15 minutes after getting any vaccine because about 1 in a million people can have a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This may include hives; difficulty breathing; or swelling of the throat, tongue, or lips. Should this reaction occur, your healthcare provider is prepared to treat it. Emergency treatment includes administration of epinephrine (adrenaline) and transfer by ambulance to the nearest emergency department. If symptoms develop after you leave the clinic, call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number.
 
Always report serious or unexpected reactions to your healthcare provider.
 

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is an infection of the airways and lungs caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Symptoms of COVID-19 can include cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, tiredness, and loss of smell or taste. While some people with COVID-19 may have no symptoms or only mild symptoms, others can require hospitalization and may die. Serious illness is more common in those who are older and those with certain chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, or lung disease. For some people, symptoms of COVID-19 can last for weeks or longer. The long-term effects of COVID-19 on a person’s health are unknown.
 
How is COVID-19 spread?
 
COVID-19 is spread by the respiratory droplets an infected person produces when they breathe, cough, sneeze, talk, or sing. If you are in contact with an infected person, the virus can enter your body if droplets get into your throat, nose, or eyes. Find more information on how COVID-19 spreads on the BCCDC website.
 
 

Where can I get more information?

Translations: Find this information in different languages in the HealthLinkBC File: COVID-19 Vaccines.
 
 
Date last reviewed: 
Thursday, Nov 18, 2021