COVID-19 vaccines for Defence Team members

All Defence Team members are encouraged to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

For more information about Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccines, visit the Government of Canada’s Vaccines for COVID-19 web page.

Vaccination will help keep Defence Team members and their families healthy. Vaccination will also help protect vulnerable Canadians, reduce the burden on our health care systems, and ensure that our Forces remain operationally ready to be called upon when needed.

Please note that the content on this page is currently being updated to reflect the updated direction included in CDS Directive 003 on CAF COVID-19 Vaccination for Operations and Readiness. In the meantime, please consult the directive for further information.

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COVID-19 vaccines for Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members

CDS Directive on CAF COVID-19 Vaccination

CDS Directive 003 on CAF COVID-19 Vaccination for Operations and Readiness applies to all officers and non-commissioned members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) posted to domestic locations, as well as those on expeditionary operations, exercises, temporary duty, or training outside of Canada. This includes the Regular Force, all Class A, B, and C Reserve Forces, Canadian Rangers, and the Officers of the Cadet Instructors Cadre.

All CAF members are strongly encouraged to be fully vaccinated and current on available booster shots, but vaccination against COVID-19 is no longer strictly a condition of employment. Instead, only CAF members supporting operational readiness must have completed their COVID-19 primary vaccine series. This includes personnel assigned to units/elements expected to perform core functions/critical capabilities with short notice-to-move, such as SOF High Readiness Forces/Task Forces, (Standby) Ready-Duty Ships, DART, NEO, and contributions to NATO, the UN, or other partners. Vaccination is also required for any personnel placed on less than 45 days notice-to-move with a potential to be deployed at a location with limited/no access to medical care, or locations or nations where vaccination is a prerequisite for entry/operations.

Regardless of vaccination status, CAF members are required to attest to their vaccination status using MCS – Monitor MASS. CAF members who do not have access to MCS – Monitor MASS, may provide to their supervisor written and signed attestation in paper format, which the supervisor will then ensure is properly entered into the appropriate attestation tracking system. For more information on how to complete your attestation in MCS – Monitor MASS, please consult the bilingual user guide (accessible only via the DWAN). CAF members who do not attest will be presumed unvaccinated.

More information can be found in CDS Directive 003 on CAF COVID-19 Vaccination for Operations and Readiness.

CAF posture on COVID-19 vaccines

2 Field Ambulance Medical Technician, Private Luis Penagos, receives his COVID-19 vaccination at Garrison Petawawa in January 2021.

The provision of health care for Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members falls under the National Defence Act to keep members healthy and at the height of operational readiness. The Department of National Defence (DND) and the CAF have a responsibility to ensure that eligible military members receive health benefits and services comparable to those provided to other Canadians through provincial and territorial plans under the Canada Health Act, but tailored to meet operational requirements and members' unique needs.

The CAF approach to COVID-19 immunization is grounded in advice from Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) guidelines and oversight by the Surgeon General of the CAF.

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COVID-19’s effect on CAF operations

The virus is an enduring threat to those at high risk from COVID-19, as well as to CAF units and operations. Outbreaks within the CAF may lead to deployment and tasking delays and cancellations, isolation/quarantine may still be disruptive to core missions and operations.

Staying up to date on vaccination against COVID-19, including booster doses as recommended by public health authorities, is vital to maintaining the operational readiness required for the CAF to serve at the level expected by Canadians.

With the implementation of the CDS Directive 003 on CAF COVID-19 Vaccination for Operations and Readiness, CAF members are encouraged to have a minimum of two COVID vaccinations with the exception of those who require full vaccination for operations, deployments, and high readiness tasks. The intent remains to protect the CAF, and protect others to maintain operational effectiveness as they serve Canada and Canadians at home and abroad. Additional vaccinations, often called booster doses are strongly recommended for all eligible CAF members and are available through Canadian Forces Health Services.

CAF vaccination

Health Canada-approved mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is available to eligible CAF members from the Canadian Forces Health Services (CFHS) system through their supporting CAF medical clinic.

Class A and B (less than 180 days) Reserve members can receive their vaccination through their provincial/territorial health system.

Additional Doses

Canadian Forces Health Services (CFHS) monitors the COVID-19 variant situation very closely and continues to work with Canadian civilian public health agencies.

To optimise protection, in addition to the primary series, additional doses of the vaccine are strongly recommended for all CAF members six months after their last dose, or after having been infected with COVID-19. Those travelling, deploying or participating in operations, as well as members with higher health risk and others such as front-line health care workers should not delay their planned booster vaccination in anticipation of newer vaccine types. Individuals choosing to delay a booster dose in anticipation of a new vaccine should carefully consider their individual risk.

What to expect at CAF immunization clinics

CAF members will first be informed by a CFHS health care professional about the Health Canada-approved mRNA vaccine. They will then be asked for their consent prior to receiving their vaccination.

On the day of your appointment, you can expect to:

Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions you might have of the CFHS immunization team.

The following video provides CAF members with an overview of the immunization clinic process: What to expect at your COVID-19 vaccine appointment?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for CAF members

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COVID-19 vaccines for Public Service employees

On 14 June 2022, the Government of Canada announced that it was suspending the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for federal employees, including contractors and supplier personnel accessing federal government workplaces.

As of 20 June, 2022, employees who were subject to administrative leave without pay (LWOP), as a result of the vaccination policy, resumed regular work duties with pay. Accommodation measures that were put in place as a result of the vaccination policy, including consideration of outstanding requests, have ended.

The policy required that DND employees complete an attestation in the Government of Canada’s Vaccine Attestation Tracking System (GC-VATS) by October 29, 2021. Public servants who did not attest to their vaccination status, or were unwilling to be vaccinated, were placed on administrative leave without pay as of November 15, 2021.

Vaccination continues to be one of the most effective tools to protect Canadians, including younger Canadians, our health care system and our economy. Over 80% of eligible Canadians have received their primary series of vaccination against COVID-19. To keep the cases down, everyone in Canada needs to keep up to date with recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including booster doses.

The government will continue to closely monitor domestic and international scientific evidence to assess the need for additional public health measures, including the possible reintroduction of vaccination mandates.

More information can be found on the COVID-19 vaccination for federal public servants and the COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs web pages.

A young woman receives a COVID-19 vaccination.

DND employees who are not already vaccinated with a two dose primary series are encouraged to book their appointment through their provincial or territorial health system provider as soon as possible. DND Public Service employees and Reserve Force personnel, including Canadian Rangers and Cadet Instructors Cadre, can access their COVID-19 vaccine through their provincial and territorial health care providers.

For Public Service employees who secure an appointment for the vaccine during the work day, leave with pay for medical/dental appointments should be used. Even if you have to schedule two appointments, one for the first dose and one for the second dose, rest assured, this does not meet the threshold for “recurring” appointments, and employees do not need to use their sick leave.

For information on the vaccination availability in the provinces or territories, please refer to the provincial or territorial websites.

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Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines

Defence Team specific information

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