COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions
B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan happens in four phases. We are now in Phase 3.
Register when it’s your turn, book an appointment and get the vaccine. Go here for more information.
Registration, Clinics & Phases
- How do I get my COVID-19 vaccine?
There are three steps to get vaccinated
Step 1: Register
- When you submit your information, you receive a confirmation number. Do not lose the number. This number makes it easier when you book your vaccination appointment.
- Registering also helps health authorities request the right amount of vaccine doses for each community.
- You can register for yourself or for someone else, like a parent or grandparent. Everyone 18 and older in B.C. is eligible to get vaccinated, even if you don’t have a Personal Health Number or other documentation.
- We protect all information we collect and public health will never share your information with any other agencies or parts of government. We will never ask you for your SIN, driver's licence number or banking and credit card details.
- Registration is open to everyone born in 2003 or earlier.
Three Ways to Register
- Register online (Personal Health Number required)
- Go to https://getvaccinated.gov.bc.ca/
- You can register 24 hours a day.
To register online, you must provide:
- First and last name
- Date of birth
- Postal code
- Personal Health Number
- An email address that gets checked regularly or a phone number that can receive text messages
- Find your Personal Health Number on the back of your B.C. driver's licence or BC Services Card.
- Register by phone (Personal Health Number not required)
Call: 1-833-838-2323 | Translators are availableSeven days a week, 7 am to 7 pm (PDT)Please only call when you are also eligible to book an appointment.Our call centre can also help if you feel more comfortable registering over the phone.
- Register at a Service BC office (Personal Health Number not required)
You can register in-person at all Service BC offices.Office hours vary by location. Check before you go.Please only register at a Service BC office when you are also eligible to book an appointment.
Step 2: Book an appointment
- You will be contacted to book a vaccine appointment when you are eligible based on your age and our Immunization Plan phases.
- You will book your appointment online or by phone. You will select a location, date and time.
Booking invitations are currently being sent for:
- People born in 1972 or earlier (49+)
- Indigenous people born in 2003 or earlier (18+)
- People who are clinically extremely vulnerable
- Pregnant people born in 2005 or earlier (16+) - Please register, then call 1-833-838-2323 to self-identify as a pregnant person. The phone agent will book you an appointment
Step 3: Get the vaccine
- Visit the vaccine clinic to get your vaccine dose.
- People who get their first vaccine dose will be notified by email, text or phone call when they are eligible to book an appointment for their second dose.
You will not miss your chance to the get the vaccine when a new phase starts. Once you become eligible, you are always eligible. For example:
- If you are in Phase 2, you can get the vaccine in Phase 3 or Phase 4
- If you are in Phase 3, you can get the vaccine in Phase 4
- Phase 1: December 2020 to February 2021
- Residents and staff of long-term care facilities
- Individuals assessed for and awaiting long-term care
- Residents and staff of assisted living residences
- Essential visitors to long-term care facilities and assisted living residences
- Hospital health care workers who may provide care for COVID-19 patients in settings like Intensive Care Units, emergency departments, paramedics, medical units and surgical units
- Remote and isolated Indigenous communities
- Phase 2: February to April 2021
1. Public health immunization clinics
- Seniors born in 1941 or earlier not immunized in Phase 1
- Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) peoples born in 1966 or earlier, Elders and additional Indigenous communities not immunized in Phase 1
- In certain remote communities, the timelines for phases maybe modified. Please check your local health authority for most accurate information for your community.
2. Priority groups (no call-in required)
- Hospital staff, community general practitioners (GPs) and medical specialists not immunized in Phase 1
- Vulnerable populations living and working in select congregated settings
- Staff in community home support and nursing services
- Phase 3: March/April to May 2021
People aged 79 to 60, in five year increments.
People aged 79 to 60, in five year increments:
79 to 75 (D1 March)
74 to 70 (D1 April)
69 to 65 (D1 April/May)
64 to 60 (D1 April/May)
Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) peoples aged 64 to 18 (D1 April)
- People aged 69 to 16 who are clinically extremely vulnerable (D1 March/April)
- Phase 4: May to June 2021
People aged 59 to 18, in five year increments:
- 59 to 55 (D1 May)
- 54 to 50 (D1 May)
- 49 to 45 (D1 May)
- 44 to 40 (D1 May/June)
- 39 to 35 (D1 May/June)
- 34 to 30 (D1 June)
- 29 to 25 (D1 June)
- 24 to 18 (D1 June)
The scheduling of groups for vaccination may change based on vaccine availability and transmission. This information is on the BCCDC eligibility page.
There are also additional rollout programs:
- COVID-19 Vaccines in Pharmacies/Get the AstraZeneca vaccine
People born in 1981 or earlier can get the AstraZeneca COVISHIELD vaccine at eligible pharmacies with vaccine supply. Find an eligible pharmacy near you.
- Some locations may allow for drop-in service.
- You will be required to bring your Personal Health Number, located on your CareCard or BC Services Card
- Priority groups not listed above
In BC, there are a variety of people who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine based on their type of work or where they live. For example:
For these groups, immunization is arranged between the employer/facility and the local health authority.
- A senior or high-risk person living in independent living or in a senior’s supportive housing setting
- Staff in independent living or senior’s supportive housing
- Home-care support clients and staff
- People identified as essential visitors in a long term care facility
- Health care workers who work in higher risk settings
- Frontline Priority Workers
Initially, the AstraZeneca vaccine was going to be used for front-line workers. This is because the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) require specialized storage facilities and can only be administered at locations that have the necessary equipment. The AstraZeneca vaccine’s ability to stay fridge-stable meant that the vaccine could travel and be stored easily in many locations. This characteristic was crucial in reaching front-line workers across the entire province. However, the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine is currently suspended for people under age 40 based on guidance from Health Canada and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). Until further notice, the vaccine rollout for these groups had to be paused as many priority workers are under 40 and are not eligible for the AstraZeneca vaccine.
- Vaccines in high-transmission neighbourhoods
Prioritizing neighbourhoods based on COVID-19 cases, outbreaks and hospitalizations will protect more people. People born in 1981 or earlier (40+) who live in high-transmission neighbourhoods can register and get contacted to book their vaccine appointment on the same day.Why high-transmission neighbourhoods get priorityVaccines save lives and are an important tool in our fight against COVID-19. Prioritizing high-transmission neighbourhoods:
- Protects more people
- Slows the spread of COVID-19
- Keeps our hospitals working
- You must live in a high-transmission neighbourhood. We use your postal code to confirm your neighbourhood.
- People born in 1981 or earlier (40+).
In some high transmission areas, people 30 years and older will be able to receive the AstraZeneca and COVISHIELD vaccine.
- What do I do if I need to cancel or reschedule my vaccine appointment?
If you registered under the public rollout, please call 1-833-838-2323 to cancel or reschedule your appointment. If you registered under the pharmacy rollout, please call the pharmacy that you booked your appointment with.
To learn more about the different rollout programs, click here.
- Will I be able to choose which brand and type of COVID-19 vaccine that I want to receive? Can I pick the best, most effective vaccine?
While there are many different brands of COVID-19 vaccines at this point, just like other vaccines, you cannot choose the specific brand you get.
We don’t deny that there are differences between vaccine brands. You may even have a preference based on your comfort level or other considerations. However, what we can say is that what is offered to you is the best one to keep you safe and protected as soon as possible, for as long as possible. We can confidently say this because vaccines are chosen based on a variety of factors, including what products are available; what product is approved for your age or health conditions; allergies to any of the vaccine ingredients; your location and whether the vaccine can be delivered there, and more.
For example, even a simple number such as vaccine efficacy is almost always misunderstood. You can learn more about COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness by clicking here. You may have also noticed that unlike other medicines, vaccine doses are not based on the weight of the patient. There are complex reasons for this, and most people are unaware about them. These two examples are just a glimpse into the complexities involved in making vaccine recommendations - when a vaccine is recommended for you, the decision is made by looking into much more than just efficacy, side-effects, and other headline catching factors you may see on the news. There is no single person or organization that decides what vaccine you will receive - many experts, from many organizations consider many more factors than we can list here, and make recommendations to keep you safe and protected in the best possible way.
- Is it safe to use marijuana/cannabis before or after getting a COVID-19 vaccine? Does it matter if it is edibles, smoked etc? Does it affect effectiveness?
If you use cannabis, the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for you.When it’s time for your appointment though, we recommend that you are not high. This is not because of a vaccine safety concern (that marijuana interferes with the vaccine) but because the healthcare provider needs your informed consent before giving vaccines. Marijuana may impair (lessen) your ability to fully understand the health information and ask questions.Many adults feel a bit nervous about immunization appointments. Here are some things you can do before, during, and after the immunization appointment that can help make immunizations easier and less stressful.ImmunizeBC does not have specific recommendations around cannabis use after getting any vaccine, including the COVID-19 vaccines.There are no studies around cannabis use and the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines. There is emerging evidence suggesting that cannabis smoking can have negative consequences on a person's respiratory system and immune competence so it is even more important to get a COVID-19 vaccine to protect yourself from the virus if you smoke.
- How do I get my second (2nd) COVID-19 vaccine dose? Will I be contacted for the second dose? Do I need to re-register? Can I book now?
More information on booking 2nd doses will be announced soon. Please check the Government of BC website for updated information.
- I live with someone/take care of someone who can get vaccinated earlier than me. Can I get the vaccine at the same time as them?
As of right now, B.C. has a limited number of vaccines. As such, the vaccines available are reserved for only those people who are eligible.
Please note that the circumstances around COVID-19 vaccines in BC are changing regularly, so this information may change.
- I qualify under the Provincial Health Officer Order to administer the COVID-19 vaccine (e.g. Retired nurses, physicians etc). I am interested in becoming a COVID-19 immunizer. How do I apply?
If you are part of a profession that normally provides immunizations (e.g. RNs and physicians) or from a profession that has been temporarily given additional capabilities under the Provincial Health Officer Order, register here.
Safety, Allergies & Side Effects
- I’ve had reactions to a vaccine before. Is it safe for me to get the COVID-19 vaccine? Do I need to get the vaccine in a special location, like a hospital?
Nearly everyone will be able to safely receive the vaccine, although a very small number of people may need to avoid vaccination due to severe allergies to parts of the vaccine.
There are very few reasons someone should not get the COVID-19 vaccine. You should not get the vaccine if you:
- Have serious allergies to any of the ingredients in the vaccines. An ingredient in the mRNA vaccines that have been associated with a rare but serious allergy (anaphylaxis) is polyethylene glycol (PEG). PEG can be found in some cosmetics, skincare products, laxatives, some processed foods and drinks and other products. Note: PEG is not in the AstraZeneca vaccine and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
- An ingredient in the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines that has been associated with a rare but serious allergy is Polysorbate 80 – It is also found in medical preparations (e.g., vitamin oils, tablets and anticancer agents) and cosmetics.
- Have had a life-threatening reaction to a previous dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or to any part of the vaccine.
- Talk to your health care provider if you have had an anaphylactic reaction but do not know the cause.
Serious life-threatening allergic reactions to vaccines (anaphylaxis) are extremely rare - much rarer than people think. Anaphylaxis is preventable in many cases and treatable in all cases. All immunizing healthcare providers in BC are required to be trained and actively watch for and treat anaphylaxis immediately. For those with allergies, your healthcare provider may ask you to wait for a longer period of time (for example, 30 minutes). Rarely, based on the recommendations of an allergist and Medical Health Officer, a person may receive a vaccine in a hospital setting.
- Should I take ibuprofen (e.g. Advil®) or acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol®) for side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine or will it change the effectiveness of the vaccine? If I took medications beforehand do I need to get the vaccine again or have antibody testing to make sure it worked?
For most vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, it is not recommended for adults to take pain or fever-reducing medications beforehand. Medications (such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) should not be given before or during the vaccine appointment. Adults can take these medications for fever or soreness after receiving the vaccine if needed. Please read the HealthLinkBC file and BCCDC vaccine after care sheet. Check with your health care provider if you need advice about medication.
However, if you took ibuprofen or acetaminophen before your COVID-19 vaccine appointment, you should continue with the appointment as planned and get your COVID-19 vaccine. You may have read that you should not take Advil or Tylenol before your COVID-19 vaccine. This information is based on some studies of children who were getting other vaccines, and not adults getting COVID-19 vaccines. We do not know if this applies to adults and the COVID-19 vaccines. Future studies are needed to look at how an adult’s immune system makes antibodies to any vaccine after taking these medications, including COVID-19 vaccines. Again, if you took pain or anti fever medications before your COVID-19 vaccine, you should still get the vaccine, the dose is still valid, and it does not need to be repeated.
- What are the ingredients of the COVID-19 vaccines?
There are currently five vaccines approved in Canada, so we can only speak to the ingredients in these vaccines.
- Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine
- Moderna vaccine
- AstraZeneca vaccine & COVISHIELD
- Johnson & Johnson (Janssen)
In B.C., the AstraZeneca and COVISHIELD vaccines will be used in people over age 40 through community pharmacies and in communities where the risk of getting COVID-19 is higher. In some high transmission areas, people 30 years and older will be able to receive the AstraZeneca and COVISHIELD vaccine.
As more vaccines are approved, their ingredient lists will be available on this Health Canada COVID-19 vaccine page.
- What are the common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine? If I have a side effect do I need to report it?
It is normal and expected to have common reactions after you receive the COVID-19 vaccine. These do not need to be reported. Please read about the common expected reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine in the BCCDC vaccine aftercare sheet.
Common side effects:
- May include pain, redness, swelling and itchiness where the vaccine was given.
- Some people experience local injection site reactions within 1-2 days after the vaccine, and other people experience local injection site reactions starting a week or more after they get the vaccine.
- Local injection site reactions are a normal part of your body’s immune response to the vaccine and will resolve within a few days. A cool, damp cloth or wrapped ice pack where the vaccine was given may help.
- These local injection reactions will go away on their own; however you may feel unwell for a day or two. If you are unable to carry on with your regular activities because of these symptoms, you can take medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tempra) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). Check with your health care provider if you need advice about medication.
Other side effects may include:
- Tiredness, headache, fever, chills, muscle or joint soreness, nausea and vomiting.
- These side effects will go away on their own; however you may feel unwell for a day or two. If you are unable to carry on with your regular activities because of these side effects, you can take medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tempra) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). Check with your health care provider if you need advice about medication.
COVID-19 vaccine side effects vs. COVID-19 symptoms
- The vaccine is not a live virus vaccine, and cannot cause COVID-19.
- Some of the side effects of the vaccine are similar to symptoms of COVID-19 infection. However, side effects from the vaccine should only last a day or two and go away on their own.
- Symptoms such as cough or other respiratory symptoms are not side effects of the vaccine and are more likely to be due to a respiratory infection like COVID-19. Use the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool if you experience any symptoms compatible with COVID-19 infection, including respiratory symptoms (runny nose, sore throat, shortness of breath, etc.) or any symptoms listed above, with the exception of local injection site reactions. This will let you know if you need to get tested for COVID-19.
Reporting adverse events following immunization
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. To report a potential adverse event following immunization with the COVID-19 vaccine, contact the immunization provider that gave you the COVID-19 vaccine. You can also contact your local health unit and ask to speak to a public health nurse.
- Are there long-term side effects caused by mRNA COVID-19 vaccines? How do we know?
While it’s difficult to definitively say whether or not there are long-term side-effects, the medical and scientific community is confident in the long-term safety of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.
According to the USA Centers for Disease Control, “Researchers have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades. mRNA vaccines have been studied before for flu, Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus (CMV). As soon as the necessary information about the virus that causes COVID-19 was available, scientists began designing the mRNA instructions for cells to build the unique spike protein into an mRNA vaccine." In addition, cancer research has used mRNA to trigger the immune system to target specific cancer cells. Decades of studying mRNA have shown no long-term side-effects.
According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the vaccine is not expected to have long-term negative effects for a few reasons:
- First, most negative effects occur within 6 weeks of receiving a vaccine, which is why the FDA asked the companies to provide 8 weeks of safety data after the last dose.
- Second, the mRNA in the vaccine breaks down pretty quickly because our cells need a way to stop mRNA from making too many proteins or too much protein.
- But, even if for some reason our cells did not break down the vaccine mRNA, the mRNA stops making the protein within about a week, regardless of the body’s immune response to the protein.
In addition, the medical and scientific community is confident in the vaccine’s long-term safety, because of the track record of Canada's vaccine approval and B.C.'s safety monitoring system. Overall, this means that the end data and safety tests are exactly the same as other vaccines that have been approved in Canada. The safety monitoring system in Canada happens both passively and actively.
- Passive safety monitoring happens when anyone with a significant reaction to any vaccine reports it to their healthcare provider which is then reported to the BCCDC, Health Canada and all the way up to the World Health Organization. This information is shared globally in a timely way to flag for other countries any emerging and urgent concerns.
- An example of active safety monitoring is the nurses across Canada who are actively reviewing patients’ charts as part of the IMPACT (Immunization Monitoring Program ACTive). This is a pediatric hospital-based national active surveillance network for adverse events in children following immunization, vaccine failures and selected infectious diseases that are, or will be, vaccine-preventable.
Canada’s system has proven time and again that the data necessary to get through the approval process is sufficient to prove safety, even for the long-term.
- I am recovering from an illness and/or my partner is recovering from an illness (like shingles or chickenpox). When will it be safe for me to get the vaccine?
In general, it is safe for you to get the COVID-19 vaccine, even if you are recovering from an illness (e.g., shingles), but:
- If you have a new illness preventing you from performing your regular activities, you should wait to get immunized until you have recovered. This will help to distinguish potential side effects of the vaccine from worsening of your other illness.
- Also, waiting, till you are recovered from an infectious illness like chickenpox (an illness that can spread from person to person) ensures that you’re not putting others at risk of infection when you come for your vaccine.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should stay home from the vaccine clinic and use the COVID-19 self-assessment tool to determine if you need to be tested.
- How long after COVID-19 is it safe to get vaccinated? I had COVID-19 but now I am feeling better. Should I still get vaccinated? Do I have to get a COVID-19 antibody test before I go for my vaccine?
People who are sick with COVID-19 should wait until they have recovered from acute illness and public health has told them they no longer need to isolate. It is important that you wait the full isolation period before getting the vaccine so that you do not expose people at your vaccination clinic to the virus.
If you had COVID-19 you should still get the vaccine once you have recovered. This is because you may not be immune to the virus that causes COVID-19 and you could get infected again. You do not need to get a COVID-19 antibody test before getting your vaccine.
However, as vaccine quantities are currently limited, those who tested positive for COVID-19 within the last three months are expected to have protection for the short term and can have their COVID-19 vaccination deferred.
- Do people who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding have safety concerns with the vaccine?
The Canadian Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology (SOGC), the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and public health experts in B.C. all advise that pregnant and breastfeeding women can be offered the vaccine. If you have questions, and you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or are breastfeeding, speak to your health care provider about COVID-19 vaccines.
- Is it safe for me to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I am immunocompromised from treatment or illness? What if I have an autoimmune disease?
Nearly everyone will be able to safely receive the vaccine, although a very small number of people may need to avoid vaccination due to severe allergies to parts of the vaccine. Vaccine manufacturers identify a number of precautions because these populations were not included in the original vaccine trials. In the context of the ongoing risk of COVID-19, most individuals can be offered vaccination:
- Weakened immune systems. COVID-19 vaccines are not live vaccines, and there are no significant concerns about safety for those with weakened immune systems. It is possible that the vaccine may not work as expected in people who have a weakened immune system. If you have questions and have a weakened immune system, speak to your healthcare provider about the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Autoimmune diseases. If you have questions and have an autoimmune disease, speak to your healthcare provider or medical specialist.
Dose schedule & timing with other vaccines
- Is it ok to get other vaccinations around the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine? Can I get a different vaccination in between doses of the COVID-19 vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccines should not be given at the same time as other vaccines. There should be a period of 14 days on either side of your COVID-19 vaccination where you do not receive other immunizations. However, if a COVID-19 vaccine is given at the same time or within 14 days of another vaccine, neither dose should be repeated. Attempts should be made to schedule other vaccines where possible 14 days before or after each dose of COVID-19 vaccination.
- Does the COVID-19 vaccine still work if there is a longer time between doses? How do we know that 4 months between dose 1 and 2 is okay?
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) state the following: “experience with other multi-dose vaccinations after a single dose suggest persistent protection could last 6 months or longer in adolescents and adults”
What we know about vaccines in general is that we want to complete the vaccine schedule and get the recommended number of doses. Generally, vaccine manufacturing companies and national vaccine advisory bodies specify a minimum interval between vaccine doses but do not specify maximum intervals.
This is because for most vaccines, antibody levels (immunity) will go down over time and do not suddenly fall below protective levels. Even months or years later, another vaccine dose can boost antibodies (immunity) to higher levels.
In fact, for many vaccines, a longer interval to the booster dose results in higher antibody levels. High antibody levels are associated with longer duration of protection. So this is how we know that the 4 month interval between dose 1 and 2 of the COVID-19 vaccines is okay.
For more information:
- In B.C., while vaccine supplies are limited, the time between first and second dose will be extended so more people can receive their first dose, increasing the benefit of limited vaccine supplies. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization supports this strategy.
- Learn more about the evidence and the decision to defer the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine in B.C.
After the vaccine
- How effective are the COVID-19 vaccines? How long does the immunity to COVID-19 last after getting the vaccine? If a vaccine has 95% efficacy, what happens to the people who are the other 5%? Do they have no immunity at all?
How our immune system works
Our immune systems don’t work like a light switch that goes simply on or off. Think of it more like a dimmer switch. With dimmer switches, the switch can go all the way up, but it can also go somewhere in between fully bright and completely off. If you stopped the switch in the middle, it’s not off - you can still see, but it is dim.
The immune system is in many ways similar to the dimmer switch. When you are vaccinated, the switch to make antibodies in your body is slowly turned up and more and more antibodies get made. Antibodies are what give you immunity.
A vaccine with 95% efficacy means that in the clinical trials, 95% of people had full protection after getting the vaccine. This doesn’t mean that the other 5% did not get any protection. It just means that their immune system “dimmer switch” got partially there, and that without the vaccine there would have been zero protection. Their body made antibodies, but not enough to be considered fully protected.
However, when it comes to COVID-19 we also don’t know the number of antibodies needed to be considered fully protected. We are currently using our best estimate, based on what we know about our bodies. This is not new. We have seen this with other vaccines before, such as the MMR vaccine. With the MMR vaccine, studies later revealed that when we gave everyone two doses one month apart almost 100% of people were actually fully protected.
In fact, studies in the real world - including the recently published UK study on 7.5 million older adults - shows that there is comparable effectiveness of the AstraZeneca (COVISHIELD) COVID-19 vaccine to the Pfizer mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. All of the COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved in Canada provide excellent protection against severe disease and death from COVID-19.
Clinical Trial Results
Clinical trials are not all the same, and cannot be compared to each other.
In the clinical trials, both mRNA vaccines were about 95 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 after receiving two doses. Protection, beginning 14 days after one dose of either vaccine, is greater than 90 percent. The duration of protection is not yet known for one or two doses of the vaccine but is being actively monitored. In general, some vaccines provide lifelong immunity, while others such as tetanus only work for 10 years.
In the clinical trials, the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine was about 62% effective in preventing symptomatic disease starting 2 weeks after the second dose. However, AstraZeneca confirms 100% protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death in the primary analysis of their Phase III trials.
In the clinical trials, the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine was about 66% effective in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 and 100% effective in preventing COVID-19–related hospitalization and death after receiving one dose.
Do these clinical trial statistics mean that one vaccine is more effective than the others? No. These were not head to head trials, and so cannot be directly compared. There is no need to worry about differences in either effectiveness or safety of these vaccines when your turn to be immunized comes up.
Long Term Immunity
We don't currently know how long immunity from the COVID-19 vaccines lasts, but the research is ongoing. COVID-19 vaccine trial participants continue to be monitored so we will learn more. However, we do know that right now we can safely reduce the risks of COVID-19 disease by getting vaccinated.
The degree to which these vaccines protect against COVID-19 one or two years after vaccination will be determined in the future, and public health experts will recommend whether booster shots are needed as we get more information.
- I’m not vaccinated but my family member/friend is, can we spend time together? Once I’m vaccinated, do I still have to worry about public health measures like wearing a mask and social distancing?
Everyone who receives the vaccine will still need to follow public health guidance and follow orders from the Provincial Health Officer. After you get a vaccine, it will still be extremely important to continue to practice all the preventive measures that have been recommended, including washing your hands, maintaining a safe physical distance, wearing a mask, and staying home when sick. There are several reasons this is important:
- It takes about 2 weeks for your body to gain protection from the COVID-19 vaccine. This means that if you contracted COVID-19 before getting the vaccine, or within the 2 week period following the vaccine, you may still get sick from COVID-19. So if you experience symptoms of COVID-19 after you’ve been vaccinated, use the BC self-assessment tool to determine if you need to be tested.
- The vaccine won’t stop everyone from getting COVID-19. For those who do get the virus, it is less likely you will experience severe illness.
- The available vaccines are highly effective, but you could be in the small number of people that don’t have immunity. You can still spread COVID-19 if you touch things and don’t wash your hands or interact with people in close proximity.
- After receiving your COVID-19 vaccine, be sure to keep a copy of your immunization record. By registering for Health Gateway, you will be able to access a digital copy of your COVID-19 vaccine record. The Health Gateway is a single place for BC residents to access their health records.
As things change, public health measures will be updated and adjusted. It is important to keep following public health recommendations.
Didn't find what you were looking for?
Find more answered questions in the categories below in our "Frequently Asked Questions" section.