COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

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  1. When will I get the COVID-19 vaccine? How will I know it's my turn?
  2. Do I need to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine? Will I be contacted?
  3. Where do I go to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
  4. Do the COVID-19 vaccines have human and animal cells or blood products?
  5. Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have allergies or had a reaction to a vaccine in the past?
  6. How is the vaccine given?
  7. What should I do after I get the vaccine?
  8. Can I get other vaccines at the same time or after my COVID-19 vaccine?
  9. Who should not get the COVID-19 vaccine?
  10. In BC, who will get the vaccine first?
  11. Can you still carry and spread the virus if you've been vaccinated?
  12. Can mRNA vaccines alter a person’s DNA?
  13. Will the vaccine still work if the virus mutates?
  14. I am eligible for the vaccine, can I give it to someone else instead?
  15. When will a COVID-19 vaccine be available for immunocompromised people?
  16. When another COVID-19 vaccine is approved, can I get both vaccines?
  17. Should I get the vaccine if I had COVID-19 illness?
  18. Should I wait to get my COVID-19 vaccine?
  19. Has the development of the COVID-19 vaccine been rushed?
  20. Are there other considerations to getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

 

1. When will I get the COVID-19 vaccine? How will I know it's my turn?

At this time, there is a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines, and there are groups that will get vaccinated first. These groups are listed on the BCCDC website. Please check the BCCDC website often for updates as more vaccines are approved and more supplies become available.

2. Do I need to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine? Will I be contacted?

At this time, you do not need to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine and you will not be contacted. There is no need to contact your local health authority. A registration and record system is in development, including a process to register for vaccine access and to receive a formal record of immunization. More information is available on the Government of BC website.

3. Where do I go to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Most BC residents cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccine yet. At this time, there is a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines, and there are groups that will get vaccinated first. Please check the BCCDC website often for updates as more vaccines are approved and more supplies become available. 

4. Do the COVID-19 vaccines have human and animal cells or blood products?

Animal and human cell cultures may be used in the process of making certain vaccines, but the vaccines do not contain animal or human cells or tissue. The purification process removes nearly all of the cell components so that only trace amounts of DNA and protein may be present in the vaccine. We do not have specific information about all COVID-19 vaccines, but vaccines do not contain blood products, fractions or components. Read more about vaccine ingredients here.

5. Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have allergies or had a reaction to a vaccine in the past?

Yes, most people with allergies or those who had an adverse event following immunization will be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. There is only one reason you cannot get a COVID-19 vaccine (contraindication):

  • If you have had a life-threatening reaction (anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or to any other part of the vaccine (like polyethylene glycol - PEG - which is common in laxatives).

It is still important to tell your immunization provider if you have had a serious reaction or anaphylaxis in the past. For example:

  • you have had anaphylaxis but no cause was found after seeing an allergy specialist
  • you had anaphylaxis before and did not see an allergy specialist
  • you have had a serious reaction or anaphylaxis to a previous vaccine or its ingredients 

6. How is the vaccine given?

The vaccine is given by injection as 2 doses and it is important to get both doses of the vaccine for full protection. Keep a record of all immunizations received. Be sure to bring your immunization record when returning for your second dose.

7. What should I do after I get the vaccine?

After you get the vaccine, continue to follow public health recommendations such as:

  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer
  • Physical distance
  • Wear a mask where required
  • You should not receive any other vaccines until 28 days have passed after you receive the second dose of the COVID-19. 

8. Can I get other vaccines at the same time or after my COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccines should not be given at the same time as other vaccines:

  • If possible, wait for at least 14 days after receiving another vaccine before getting the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. It is not a safety concern if it has been less than 14 days. Separating vaccines by 14 days can help us determine which vaccine may have caused a side effect if one happens. 
  • Wait at least 28 days after finishing the two-dose vaccine series of a mRNA COVID-19 vaccine before getting another vaccine (except in the case where another vaccine is required because you have been exposed to another vaccine-preventable disease).
  • Please talk to your immunization provider if you have more questions. 

9. Who should not get the COVID-19 vaccine?

There is only one reason why you cannot not get the COVID-19 vaccine (contraindication):

  • You have had a life-threatening reaction (anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or to any other part of the vaccine. One part of the COVID-19 vaccine is polyethylene glycol (PEG). PEG can be found in some cosmetics, skin care products, laxatives, cough syrups, and bowel preparation products for colonoscopy. PEG can be an additive in some processed foods and drinks but no cases of anaphylaxis to PEG in foods and drinks have been reported.

10. In BC, who will get the vaccine first?

Public health will arrange for the following priority groups to get the vaccine. No action is required on your part. The ordering of priority groups is based on recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization

First groups to get vaccinated between December and February:

  • residents, staff and essential visitors to long-term care and assisted-living residences.
  • individuals in hospital or community awaiting a long term care placement
  • health care workers providing care for COVID-19 patients in settings like Intensive Care Units, emergency departments, medical/surgical units and paramedics.
  • remote and isolated First Nations communities.

February to March the immunization program will expand to include:

In spring 2021 as more vaccine becomes available, a second phase of vaccination will begin for:

  • community-based seniors, age 80 and above, Indigenous elders and Indigenous seniors, age 65 and above.
  • people experiencing homelessness and/or using shelters.
  • provincial correctional facilities.
  • adults in group homes or mental health residential care.
  • long term home support recipients and staff.
  • hospital staff, community GPs and medical specialists.
  • other First Nations communities not vaccinated in the first priority group.

11. Can you still carry and spread the virus if you've been vaccinated?

Likely. We do know that the vaccine will protect people from getting sick from the virus, but it’s possible that you could still carry the virus and be contagious to others even though you got your immunization. We will learn more as the clinical trials will continue for another 2 years, and so in the meantime, we need to continue wearing our masks and practicing physical distancing.

12. Can mRNA vaccines alter a person’s DNA?

No. Dr. Paul Offit at the Vaccine Education Center explains that we can be confident that mRNA vaccines are not able to alter a person’s DNA for 3 reasons:

  1. Location – mRNA is active in the cytoplasm of a cell, whereas DNA is protected in the cell’s nucleus. The mRNA can NOT enter the nucleus, so the two nucleic acids are never in the same place in the cell.
  2. Process – mRNA is not DNA. So, if a person’s DNA was going to be altered, the RNA would have to be made into DNA. This would require a special enzyme which only exists in some viruses. Coronaviruses are not one of them as they have only single-stranded RNA which means that when they enter into a cell’s cytoplasm they don’t need to be translated. Proteins (like the spike protein) can be made directly from the RNA.
  3. Stability – mRNA is not very stable and can only stay alive in human cells for hours.

 

Watch this video  where Dr. Paul Offit explains how COVID-19 vaccines based on messenger RNA technology work.

13. Will the vaccine still work if the virus mutates?

At this time, the virus has mutated a bit, but these small changes are not affecting how well the vaccine works. However, we are watching this closely and the vaccines can be updated if needed.

14. I am eligible for the vaccine, can I give it to someone else instead?

No, there are limited doses right now and they need to go to the people that it will help the most. The focus is to protect those who are vulnerable to serious complications from COVID-19 illness. The vaccine is only approved in certain populations at this time and the person you want to give the vaccine to may not be part of the groups that can receive the vaccine (under 16 years of age, some severe allergies etc.).

15. When will a COVID-19 vaccine be available for immunocompromised people?

Hopefully soon. Dozens of vaccines are still being developed and will include a vaccine for people who are immunocompromised.

For some groups a complete COVID-19 vaccine series may be offered to a person if:

  • they consult their healthcare provider who thinks the benefits of the vaccine are greater than the possible risks
  • the immunization provider and the person discuss the lack of research on COVID-19 vaccines in some groups of people

Speak with your health care provider if you:

  • Have an immune system weakened by disease or medical treatment
  • Have an autoimmune disease

16. When another COVID-19 vaccine is approved, can I get both vaccines?

There is no information yet on getting more than one type of COVID-19 vaccine. We do know from the Pfizer and Moderna clinical trials that there were more reactions when people received a higher number of vaccine doses.

17. Should I get the vaccine if I had COVID-19 illness?

Yes. If you had or may have had, COVID-19 illness you should still get the vaccine. This is because you may not be immune to the virus that causes COVID-19 and you could get infected again and become sick.

18. Should I wait to get my COVID-19 vaccine?

It’s up to you whether you want a COVID-19 vaccine. Feeling worried or hesitant is completely normal when something is new, however we can be reassured that Health Canada has a thorough approval process that ensures the safety of the many vaccines and medicines we take routinely. This rigorous process will be used before any vaccines are approved for use in Canada. For more information on vaccine development and safety, the best sources are: Health Canada and the BCCDC.

19. Has the development of the COVID-19 vaccine been rushed?

The development of the COVID-19 vaccine has been expedited (sped up) but no corners have been cut and all regulatory or approval processes have been followed to ensure the safety and efficacy of the vaccine for all Canadians. Read here to find out about our vaccine testing, approval and monitoring system in Canada. Read here to find info specific to the development and approval of the COVID-19 vaccine in Canada.

20. Are there other considerations to getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

For the following groups, a complete COVID-19 vaccine series may be offered to a person if:

  • they consult their healthcare provider who thinks the benefits of the vaccine are greater than the possible risks
  • the immunization provider and the person discuss the lack of research on COVID-19 vaccines in some groups of people

Speak with your health care provider if you:

  • Have an immune system weakened by disease or medical treatment
  • Have an autoimmune disease
  • Are pregnant, may be pregnant or are planning to become pregnant
  • Are breastfeeding
  • Have received a monoclonal antibody or convalescent plasma for treatment or prevention of COVID-19
  • Have received a vaccine in the last 14 days
  • Have symptoms of COVID-19
  • If you have a new illness preventing you from your regular activities you should likely wait until you have recovered. This will help to distinguish side effects of the vaccine from worsening of your illness.

Didn't find what you were looking for? Go to our "Ask Us" category for the COVID-19 vaccine

 

 

Date last updated: 
Wednesday, Jan 20, 2021
Date last reviewed: 
Sunday, Jan 10, 2021