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COVID-19 FAQ page

What vaccines are currently available in Canada?

Vaccines that are approved in Canada include:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine
  • Moderna COVID vaccine
  • AstraZeneca/Covishield COVID vaccine
  • Janssen Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine
Are there any side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines?

It is common to experience some mild to moderate side effects from COVID-19 vaccinations. The side effects of COVID-19 vaccines are quite similar to the other vaccines.

These side-effects on your arm include:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling

You may also experience:

  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea

If you do experience side effects, they will last for only a few days.

The side effects occur because your immune system is instructing your body to react in certain ways; such as raising your body temperature in order to kill the virus.

It is important to speak to your primary care providers if you have any specific concerns about the vaccines or are at risk of an allergic reaction.

Can the COVID-19 vaccine treat the infection?

The vaccine is meant to prevent infection from the virus and not treated it after infection. People with active symptoms should not be vaccinated.

If a person already had COVID-19, will they still need to get the vaccine?

Yes, if someone had COVID-19, they should still get the vaccine. People will vary in their ability to give a protective immune response to the infection. Some people may not be immune to the virus and can become ill again. However, in cases of the vaccine supply being limited, the vaccine should be  prioritized for people who have not been infected with COVID-19. You can always consult your primary care physician or local public health authority to check if you are eligible to receive the vaccine.

Is one vaccine better than the other vaccines?

All of these vaccines are made with fairly new vaccine technologies, but they are not all of the same kind. However, the one vaccine offered or available to you is the best one. Each COVID-19 vaccine goes through the rigorous approval procedure by Health Canada, ensuring they are safe and effective. Research studies and clinical trials are conducted before Health Canada approves the vaccines to ensure they’re safe and have a highly efficacy.

Do I get to choose the vaccine I want?

In most territories or provinces, people are not given a choice. It is important to note that all of the vaccines approved for use in Canada are safe and effective. They help in reducing the risk of serious illnesses, hospitalization and death. They also help in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

However, it can be confidently said that the offered vaccines are the most suitable for you as they are based on a variety of factors from approval of it for your age group and health conditions, or to your location or the availability of the vaccine. Thus, you cannot choose the specific brand of vaccine you want.

Is taking both doses necessary?

Note that the majority of current COVID-19 vaccines, which are available in Canada, require you to take two doses to give you full protection against the virus. The second dose is as essential as the first as it helps prolong your protection against COVID-19. Johnson & Johnson is a one-dose vaccine but hasn’t been approved in Canada yet. According to the current recommendations, waiting for at least 28 days after the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is suggested. It is also suggested that no other vaccine, besides flu or pneumococcal vaccines, should be taken 14 days before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

What is the recommended interval between the two vaccine doses?

The minimum recommended interval period between doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine is 21 days. And the interval period between doses for AstraZeneca is 28 days. According to the recommendations by Public Health, an interval of 16 weeks between two doses is vital.

Can people 65 years old and above receive any available vaccine?

Yes, all people of age 65 years and above in Canada should get any available COVID-19 vaccine that is offered to them. Health Canada has carefully examined pieces of evidence from the manufacturer’s clinical trials. It has approved vaccines for people aged 18 and above. This is not for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, as it is approved for people aged 16 and above.

Can pregnant or breastfeeding women take the COVID-19 vaccine?

Pregnant and breastfeeding women were not included in the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials, and thus, no data is there regarding the safety and efficacy of the vaccines in these populations.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended that the vaccine should be offered to pregnant and breastfeeding women falling within the approved age groups only if the benefits of receiving the vaccine are outweighing any potential risks. To make a decision, have a conversation with their health care professionals to understand the risks and benefits that may come with the vaccines.

Can I travel after taking my COVID-19 vaccine?

The Government of Canada recommends avoiding all non-essential travel outside of Canada, regardless of the COVID-19 immunization status. If you want to travel within Canada or abroad, it is recommended that you follow the public health guidance while travelling and while at your destination. It is essential to be aware of public health requirements in place for the people returning to Canada, like testing and quarantining themselves.

For any of the COVID-19 vaccines, are there any drug interaction warnings?

There are no such warnings for any of the COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada. In other words, receiving a vaccine should not prevent the medications you are taking from working. Or, the medications you are taking should not prevent the vaccine from working. Thus, the vaccine and the medications will not interact with each other in a harmful way.

Can a person transmit the infection to others even after being vaccinated?

Yes, this is possible if: the individual had been infected with the virus two weeks before or shortly after being vaccinated for COVID-19 before being considered immune.

The individual is a part of the group of COVID recipients for whom the vaccine is not effective. Note that vaccines are never 100% effective, which means that while they are effective and protect most people, they won’t be effective and protective for everyone.

Can the COVID-19 vaccine still give you COVID-19?

The vaccine for the COVID-19 cannot and will not give you the virus. The vaccines currently authorized in Canada help your immune system in recognizing the protein found on the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. This helps your body in developing specific antibodies that will fight the virus in case you get exposed to it.

Do vaccinations lower the immune system?

NO! It does the exact opposite. Vaccinations trigger your immune system to produce specific antibodies and White Blood Cells (WBCs). They act as the defence against the deadly virus.

Is it worth getting the vaccine even though variants keep on coming?

YES! Despite the emergence of the new variants, the SRAS-CoV2 virus is still present everywhere and provokes serious complications. The consequences may include the death also of many people. Moreover, the vaccines are still not that effective against variants of the same. But, vaccination is the most effective method to prevent the COVID-19 virus.

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