How to get vaccinated for COVID-19
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.
Currently, there are five COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada:
- AstraZeneca & COVISHIELD-Read our FAQ about these vaccines
- Johnson & Johnson (Janssen)
Find this information in different languages in the HealthLinkBC File: COVID-19 Vaccines.
Who should get the vaccine?
What are the benefits of the vaccine?
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 vaccine side effects?
- 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 8 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 1 to 2 days. If you have concerns about any symptoms you develop after receiving the vaccine, speak with your health-care provider or call 8-1-1 for advice.
- A number of processes are in place in Canada and around the world to monitor the safety of the vaccines as more people get immunized. Rare cases of serious blood clots (about 1 to 10 cases in 1,000,000 vaccinated people) have been reported in Europe within 4 to 16 days of getting the AstraZeneca vaccine, and mainly in adults under 55 years old. The AstraZeneca and COVISHIELD vaccines are not currently recommended for those under 55 years of age in Canada.
What should I do after getting the vaccine?
It is 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 our health-care provider.
- Read what to expect after you get a mRNA vaccine
- Read what to expect after you get a COVISHIELD or AstraZeneca vaccine
- Visit our FAQ about COVID-19 vaccine and browse by topic below:
- BCCDC’s COVID-19 vaccine webpage
- Government of BC COVID-19 immunization plan webpage
- Health care providers, please go to the BCCDC's Resources for health professionals webpage
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?
The virus that causes COVID-19 is spread from person to person by coughing, sneezing, talking and singing. It can also be spread by touching an object or surface with the virus on it and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.