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COVID-19 vaccines for adults


It's important to stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations to reduce the risks of severe illness and death from COVID-19.

Get vaccinated

To get vaccinated against COVID-19, you must register with the provincial Get Vaccinated system. You will receive a booking invitation when it's time to book your dose.

Types of COVID-19 vaccines

There are six COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada. Four are available in BC: 

mRNA vaccines

mRNA vaccines are the recommended vaccines for most people because they provide the best protection against COVID-19. 

mRNA vaccines are available at vaccination clinics across the province and participating pharmacies. If you’d like to get a non-mRNA vaccine, register with the Get Vaccinated system and then call 1-833-838-2323 and tell the agent that you prefer to receive Janssen or Novavax.

Benefits of COVID-19 vaccination

There are many benefits of getting vaccinated against COVID-19:
  • The vaccines protect against severe COVID-19 illness, including hospitalization and death. 
  • Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer, more reliable way to build protection than getting sick with COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 vaccines can offer added protection to people who have had COVID-19.
  • When you get vaccinated, you help protect others, including those who cannot get the vaccine.
  • Vaccination can reduce the risk of Post COVID-19 condition. Post COVID-19 condition, also known as long COVID, is when people still experience symptoms of COVID-19 for weeks or months after their initial recovery. 

Getting the vaccine

Getting your first and second doses

You need at least two doses to complete your primary (initial) series for most COVID-19 vaccines in BC.
People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised should receive a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. These people may not develop a strong enough immune response with only two vaccine doses. They need three doses to achieve the level of protection that most people get with two doses.

Booster doses

Booster doses help maintain your protection against severe illness from a COVID-19 infection. 
Timing of booster doses


The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends getting an mRNA booster dose at least 6 months after completing the initial vaccine series for people 5 years and older.

If you got the Janssen vaccine, you can get a booster two months after your vaccine.
Even if you've had COVID-19, you still need a booster as vaccines provide more reliable protection. You can wait 6 months after a positive COVID-19 test to get your booster dose.  See "Who can get a spring booster and Getting a booster dose after you had COVID-19" (below).
Getting a booster
Everyone 5 and older can get a COVID-19 mRNA bivalent vaccine for their booster. The bivalent mRNA vaccine is the most updated vaccine that also targets the Omicron variant. Bivalent vaccines are expected to provide the best protection against COVID-19 and its variants.
If you have not yet received a bivalent booster and you are 12 years of age or older, you can get one 6 months after your last dose of vaccine. You can check your vaccine records online through Health Gateway or by calling 1-833-838-2323.
Most people who have already received a bivalent dose are still protected and do not need another dose at this time. Some people can get an additional booster dose this spring 2023.
If you're 18 years or older and would prefer a non-mRNA vaccine, you can get the Novavax vaccine or Janssen vaccine
Who can get a spring 2023 booster?
BC is offering a spring booster dose to people most at risk of severe illness, based on recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.
People who should get a spring booster include:
  • People in long-term care or waiting for admission. 
  • Older adults and elders:
    • 80 years and older
    • 70 years and older and Indigenous
  • Adults (18+) who are moderately to severely immunocompromised. 
  • Adults (50+) with certain underlying health conditions.

Invitations to book an appointment from the Get Vaccinated system have been going out since April to people who received their last dose 6 months ago.

In addition, the following people who have not had COVID-19 and at least 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine may consider getting a spring booster: 
  • 60 years and older
  • 50 years and older and Indigenous
  • 18-49 years of age with certain underlying health conditions 
People who have had COVID-19 and are vaccinated with at least 2 doses have ‘hybrid immunity’. If you are in one of the groups above and have already had COVID-19, you have strong protection against hospitalization and death and likely do not need a dose yet. However, if you still wish to get a spring booster dose now, talk to a health care provider or call 1-833-838-2323.
If you are not listed above and you received a booster during the fall of 2022, you still have good protection against severe illness and do not need another dose at this time. 
Why are spring boosters for people at higher risk?

This approach follows recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) to ensure the people who need it most will be protected.

The risk of hospital admission due to COVID-19 increases with age. A booster dose will help older adults and people with compromised immune systems get stronger protection. Indigenous peoples have lower age eligibility as they may be disproportionately affected by COVID-19 because of longstanding inequities and the impacts of colonization.
People who have had COVID-19 and are vaccinated with 2 or more doses have ‘hybrid immunity’. This gives you strong protection against hospitalization and death. Most younger people have hybrid immunity, while many older adults are protected by vaccination only. This is why a booster dose can help older adults who have not yet had COVID-19.
How do you know if you've had COVID-19?
  • If you have ever had a positive COVID-19 test (PCR or rapid antigen test at home)
  • If you ever had symptoms of COVID-19 and someone else in your household tested positive around the same time.
If you've recently had a positive COVID-19 test result, the likelihood of reinfection is low in this time after infection.  You can wait up to 6 months for a booster dose If you recently had COVID-19. The immune response is better when there is more time between infection and vaccination.
How to get a booster
Make sure you are registered with the Get Vaccinated system.
Once you are eligible, you will receive an invitation to book an appointment for your booster dose. 
You must be invited to book a booster dose appointment. You can't drop in at a clinic or call a pharmacy to get a booster.
People living in long-term care and assisted living will get their booster doses from a health care worker who visits them. 
You can call 1-833-838-2323 if you are eligible for booster doses and have not yet received an invitation to book one.

COVID-19 vaccine safety and monitoring

COVID-19 vaccines are safe. It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get COVID-19. 
There is a very strict process to test and approve vaccines in Canada. Health Canada only approves a vaccine if it is safe, effective, meets manufacturing standards, and the benefits outweigh the risks. After a vaccine is approved for use, its safety is continuously monitored.
Evidence from billions of COVID-19 vaccines given around the world continues to show that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and that the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines continue to outweigh the risks of the disease.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine safety:

Side effects

Side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine can vary from person to person. Some people experience side effects, and others don’t. Even if you don’t experience any side effects, your body is building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19.

Side effects of COVID-19 vaccines are most often mild and generally last 1 to 2 days. Serious side effects are rare. The known risks of COVID-19 illness outweigh the potential risk of having a serious side effect following vaccination.

Possible side effects after mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna)
Side effects 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. 
  • Tiredness and headache.
  • Fever and chills.
  • Muscle or joint soreness.
  • Swollen lymph nodes under the armpit.
  • Nausea and vomiting. 
Rare cases of inflammation of the heart (myocarditis and pericarditis) have been reported after getting the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines. 
  • In Canada, this has occurred at a rate of about 1.7 cases per 100,000 doses of Moderna vaccine and 1.1 cases per 100,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for older children and adults. 
  • Cases are seen more often after the second dose and in males 12-29 years of age. The rate of cases in males 18-29 years of age after the second dose is  about 5 times higher with the Moderna vaccine compared to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. 
  • The rate of cases in younger children is much lower. 
Possible side effects after viral vector vaccines (AstraZeneca and Janssen) 
Side effects 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. 
  • Tiredness and headache
  • Fever and chills
  • Muscle or joint soreness
  • Swollen lymph nodes under the armpit
  • Nausea and vomiting. 
The following rare events have been reported after getting the viral vector vaccines:
  • Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome: serious blood clots have been seen at a rate of about 1 case in 50,000 first doses of AstraZeneca vaccine and 1 in 600,000 second doses. The rate after a dose of Janssen vaccine is about 1 case in 100,000 doses.
  • Immune thrombocytopenia: a temporary drop in the blood cells that help prevent bleeding may occur in less than 1 in 10,000 people.
  • Guillain Barré Syndrome: a condition that can result in weakness and paralysis of the body’s muscles may occur in 1 in 100,000 people.
  • Venous thromboembolism: a blood clot that starts in a vein may occur in about 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 1,000 people after getting the Janssen vaccine.
Possible side effects after protein subunit vaccines (Novavax) 
Side effects may include:
  • Tenderness, soreness, redness, and swelling where the vaccine was given. 
  • Tiredness and headache.
  • Fever.
  • Muscle or joint soreness.
  • Nausea and vomiting. 
There have been international reports of pericarditis and myocarditis in association with the Novavax vaccine. However, there have been no reports in Canada up to Dec. 9, 2022. 

Anaphylaxis after vaccines

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. If this reaction occurs, your health care 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.

Reporting adverse events

Please report any adverse events following immunization to your health care provider or your local heath unit. Health care providers are trained to report these events to the correct channels to monitor vaccine safety. Public health also reviews the event and will make a recommendation for future vaccination.

What is an adverse event?

An adverse event following immunization (also known as an AEFI) is any untoward medical occurrence after a vaccine has been given that may or may not have been caused by the vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccination aftercare

Read the COVID-19 Vaccine Aftercare Sheet for what to expect after vaccination, tips for side effects, symptoms to look out for, and when to seek medical attention. 
Preview of the COVID-19 vaccination aftercare sheet


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