Vaccine Information

The following information is from Albertahealthservices.ca & Myhealth.alberta.ca Network
For up-to-date information, please visit these websites as information is updated consistently.

Vaccines are a critical way to limit the spread of COVID-19. They are effective and safe. Immunization protects your health, as well as the health of your loved ones and the community. The COVID-19 vaccine protects against the SARS-CoV-2 virus (also known as COVID-19).

​Vaccines make your immune system stronger. They build antibodies to help prevent diseases. Immunization is safe. It's much safer to get immunized than to get this disease.​

Q: Why is immunization important?
A: Although some individuals are at greater risk for severe complications, without immunization, we have seen that even healthy Albertans are at risk of severe illness and even death from this virus.

Vaccines make your immune system stronger. They build antibodies to help prevent diseases. Immunization is safe. It is much safer to get immunized than to get COVID-19 disease.

With the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine in Alberta, we have the opportunity to slow the spread of the virus, and ensure our most vulnerable and at-risk populations are protected from COVID-19. The vaccine will also help reduce the strain on our healthcare system and allow elective surgeries, and other postponed services to continue.

We all must do our part to protect one another. Immunization is the single most effective means of protecting yourself, your loved ones and the greater community from COVID-19.

Q: How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?
A: Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. These vaccines contain the genetic instructions for making a protein that is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. It uses our cells to make this protein and triggers our immune system to make antibodies against it. Then, if the real virus enters our body in the future, these antibodies will help fight the infection.

Q: Who should have the COVID-19 vaccine?

A: You should get the COVID-19 vaccine if you’re age 16 years and older. Everyone is at risk of COVID-19. The vaccine is very important for people who are more likely to be in contact with the virus because of where they work or live. This includes healthcare providers and people who live in a care facility, such as a nursing home. It’s also important for people who have a high risk of complications from COVID-19 to get the vaccine. This includes people who:

  • have health problems, such as heart, lung, kidney, or liver problems, high blood pressure, or diabetes
  • have a lot of extra weight
  • are over the age of 60

The vaccine is free and will be offered to everyone over the age of 16 years. The vaccine will be offered first to:

  • those at high risk of getting very sick from COVID-19
  • those who may spread disease to people at high risk
  • essential workers, like frontline healthcare workers

Go to ahs.ca/covidvaccine to find out when you can get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Q: Who should not have the COVID-19 vaccine?

A: You may not be able to have the vaccine if you:

  • have an allergy to parts of the vaccine
  • had a severe or unusual side effect after this vaccine or one like it
  • are under age 16 years
  • have had another vaccine in the last 2 weeks

Check with your doctor or a public health nurse before you get the vaccine. Talk to your doctor to find out if the vaccine is right for you if you:

  • have a weak immune system (because of a medicine you take or a health problem)
  • have an autoimmune disorder (like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus)
  • are pregnant or breastfeeding

There isn’t enough evidence to know if the vaccine is safe and protects against COVID-19 in these groups. Always tell your healthcare provider if you have allergies or if you have had a side effect from a vaccine in the past.

Q: Are there side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine?

A: There can be side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine, but they tend to be mild and go away in a few days. Side effects may include:

  • redness, swelling, or feeling sore where you had the needle
  • feeling tired
  • headache
  • fever or chills
  • body aches or sore joints
  • feeling sick to your stomach (nausea), vomiting (throwing up), or loose stool (diarrhea)
  • swollen lymph nodes

It’s important to stay at the clinic for 15 minutes after your vaccine. Some people may have a rare but serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. If anaphylaxis happens, you’ll get medicine to treat the symptoms.

Wait at least 28 days after you have all doses of the COVID-19 vaccine before you:

  • get another vaccine
  • try to get pregnant

It’s rare to have a serious side effect. Call Health Link at 811 to report any serious or unusual side effects.

Q: What goes into making sure vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccines, are safe and effective?

A: Canada is recognized around the world for high standards for vaccine review, approvals, and monitoring systems. Only vaccines that are safe and effective will be approved for use in Canada. After a vaccine is approved for use, evidence on safety and effectiveness is reviewed by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization who provide recommendations on immunizations for individuals and for public health programs.

Q: How well does the vaccine work?

A: If you’re healthy and get both doses, the protection for COVID-19 is about 94% to 95%, 7 to 14 days after you get the second dose. It’s still important to practice the recommended public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, even if you’ve had the vaccine. This includes:

  • following guidelines of when to wear a mask or other equipment that helps protect you
  • washing your hands often
  • staying 2 metres away from others
  • staying home when you’re sick

Visit ahs.ca/covid for the most up-to-date information.

Q: I’ve recovered from COVID-19, should I still get the COVID-19 vaccine?

A: Yes, you should still be immunized. There is no mandatory waiting period between having COVID-19 disease and being immunized; however, it is recommended that people wait until they are feeling better.

Q: Can the COVID-19 vaccine give me a coronavirus infection?

A: None of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in use in Canada contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. The vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.

Q: Will mRNA change my DNA?

A: No. Injecting mRNA into a person does not change the DNA of a human cell.

Q: How many doses do I need?

A: You need 2 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. When you get the second dose depends on the vaccine supply at the time.

Where can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

A: Go to ahs.ca/covidvaccine to find out where and when you can get the COVID-19 vaccine.

  • If you live in a long-term care or supportive living facility, you should get your second dose 3 to 4 weeks after your first dose.
  • For all others, you should get your second dose 3 to 6 weeks after your first dose.

Your healthcare provider will let you know when you need your second dose. You need both doses to make sure you have the best protection against COVID-19.

Visit alberta.ca/covid19-vaccine.aspx for more information.