COVID-19 vaccines for Defence Team members

COVID-19: The Government of Canada has announced intent to require vaccination for federal public servants as well as CAF members

In light of the announcement made Friday, August 13, 2021, the Government of Canada intends to require COVID-19 vaccinations for federal public service employees and Canadian Armed Forces members. For those few who are unable to be vaccinated, accommodation or alternative measures may be determined in each situation, to protect broader public health by reducing the risk of COVID-19.  As further details unfold, they will be communicated.

All Defence Team members are to continue respecting local public health measures, including mask wearing, physical distancing, and frequent hand washing.

Information on this web page will be updated soon, so please be sure to visit often.

All Defence Team members are strongly encouraged to receive any Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one becomes available to them.

All Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccines are effective at reducing the symptoms and severity of the virus. For more information about Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccines, visit the Government of Canada’s Vaccines for COVID-19 web page.

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

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

CAF posture on COVID-19 vaccines

The provision of health care for Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members falls under the National Defence Act to keep members 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 and under the Canada Health Act, but tailored to meet operational requirements and members' unique needs.

The CAF began distribution and administration of the Health Canada-approved Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to those members in the first priority group in early January 2021, in accordance with the rollout of vaccine supply.

The order in which CAF members are being vaccinated has been determined by the Chief of the Defence Staff in accordance with the COVID-19 Vaccine Prioritization Framework, based on National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) guidelines, and advice from the Surgeon General of the CAF. This comes after working with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to plan how to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to all eligible CAF members.

This image depicts 2 Field Ambulance Medical Technician, Private Luis Penagos,<br> receiving his COVID-19 vaccination at Garrison Petawawa in January 2021
2 Field Ambulance Medical Technician, Private Luis Penagos,
receives his COVID-19 vaccination at Garrison Petawawa in January 2021.

COVID-19’s effect on CAF operations

The virus is spreading widely in our communities and in our units. For every case of COVID-19, there are about 12 other people who will need to be quarantined as close contacts. So, outbreaks within the CAF lead to deployment and tasking cancellations, base/wing/camp lockdowns, and the isolation/quarantine of entire units/deployed sections.

This degrades the CAF’s ability to train and deploy our personnel. Broad vaccination throughout the Defence Team – as soon as possible – is vital to maintain operational readiness, and for the CAF to serve at the level expected by Canadians.

CAF members may require proof of a COVID-19 vaccination in order to operate in certain high-risk environments or with vulnerable populations. The intent remains to protect the CAF, and protect others to maintain operational effectiveness as they serve Canada and Canadians at home and abroad.

In light of the announcement made Friday, August 13, 2021, the Government of Canada intends to require COVID-19 vaccinations for federal public service employees and Canadian Armed Forces members. As further details unfold, they will be communicated.

CAF vaccination rollout

The Health Canada-approved Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is being made available to eligible members through the Canadian Forces Health Services (CFHS) system. This information will be updated if the situation changes.

It is expected that members in all priority groups will be offered the vaccine sometime between April and August 2021, with the goal of vaccinating as many CAF personnel as possible with both doses of the vaccine in that timeframe.

Five priority groups have been determined based on the National Advisory Committee of Immunization (NACI) guidelines and medical advice from the Surgeon General of the CAF to the Chief of the Defence Staff. The order of the CAF priority groups for vaccination against COVID-19, depending on the availability of vaccine supply and delivery logistics, is as follows:

First priority group 

Frontline health care providers who work in higher-risk clinical settings and members who have health conditions that make them vulnerable to severe forms of COVID-19. This includes, those clinicians who support Long Term Care Facilities, those who provide medical care to vulnerable residents of Indigenous communities, and members providing medical care to CAF members potentially infected with COVID-19..

Second priority group 

CAF members who work in high-risk settings similar to those in Priority Group 1 who were not offered the vaccine during the initial allocation. This will include CAF first responders and members tasked to either deliver or support the delivery of vaccines to remote or high-risk communities.

Third priority group 

CAF members deployed or employed in providing essential support to CAF critical functions and capabilities, such as Search and Rescue, readiness functions like the Immediate Reaction Task Force, aircraft maintenance, Immediate Response Units, Ready Duty Ships, Humanitarian Assistance, Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations, Cyber Assurance, and Casualty Support Management. Also included are CAF personnel posted outside of Canada (OUTCAN) and those contributing to NORAD, NATO, UN Operations or working directly with other international partners and those providing direct support to different levels of government. While most OUTCAN members and their accompanying dependants will be vaccinated by allied host nations, arrangements will be made to immunize members when this is not possible, including administration of the vaccine in Canada before being posted abroad.

Fourth priority group 

CAF members engaged in force generation, training, and education activities. This includes CAF personnel training to prepare for assigned missions, and instructors, staff and students at the CAF’s Royal Military Colleges and the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit school.

Fifth priority group 

All remaining CAF members. 

How CAF members will get their COVID-19 vaccines

CAF members will receive information from the local Canadian Forces Health Services Centres from April to August 2021 as vaccine allotments arrive for each priority group.

Regular Force members and full-time Reservists Class C and Class B (greater than 180 days): clinics will be organized through Canadian Forces Health Services as vaccines become available. Clinics will adhere to COVID-19 public health measures when administering COVID-19 vaccines. More information regarding clinics will be released by local Canadian Forces Health Services Centres as it becomes available.

OUTCAN members and their families: DND/CAF has coordinated with and authorized some host nation and coalition medical authorities to offer Health Canada-approved vaccines from their own national allocations. Some members (and their dependents where required) may be able to receive vaccinations from host nations, while others will receive vaccination in Canada prior to departure.

Class A and Class B Reservists (less than 180 days) and CAF family members: the COVID-19 vaccine can be accessed through their provincial/territorial health care providers as it becomes available according to their distribution plans for their area.

What to expect at CAF immunization clinics

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

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

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

Proof of Vaccination for CAF Members 

Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members who receive a COVID-19 vaccination from the CAF are provided with proof of vaccination. This can be in the form of an entry in a vaccination booklet, a sheet of paper or a card. Vaccination details are also logged into the Canadian Forces Health Information System, the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) electronic health information management system where members’ health records are stored.

The CAF vaccination booklet or other document provided to members can be used by members when asked to prove their vaccination status. Public health officials in all Canadian jurisdictions are aware of the appearance of the CAF member’s proof of vaccination.

The authenticity of these documents can be confirmed by comparing them against the following samples, and verifying that the name and service number on the document matches those on the individual’s military identification card.

The requirements and methods of COVID-19 proof of vaccination are evolving rapidly, and vary significantly between jurisdictions. In addition to the CAF-issued proof of vaccination, CAF members may now be able to request a proof of vaccination credential (PVC) from their Province or Territory (P/T) of residence. CAF members must refer to their P/T for specific information on how to proceed. Note that these P/T “vaccine passports”, or PVC, are an optional way for CAF members to demonstrate their vaccination status in their respective P/T that is in addition to the CAF-issued proof of vaccination. Please visit COVID-19: Canadian proof of vaccination for international travel - Canada.ca for more information.

Military identification card

Two examples of a military identification card that includes name and service number.

Two examples of a military identification card that includes name and service number.

Two examples of a military identification card that includes name and service number.

Vaccination booklet

A Travel Immunization Record booklet that includes name, Service number, and vaccination details.

A Travel Immunization Record booklet that includes name, Service number, and vaccination details.

A Travel Immunization Record booklet that includes name, Service number, and vaccination details.

International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis

An International Certificate of Vaccination or that includes name, Service number, and vaccination details.

An International Certificate of Vaccination or that includes name, Service number, and vaccination details.

Immunization record (sheet)

An immunization record sheet that includes name, Service number, and vaccination details.

An immunization record sheet that includes name, Service number, and vaccination details.

Immunization record (card)

An immunization record card that includes name, Service number, and vaccination details.

An immunization record card that includes name, Service number, and vaccination details.

An immunization record card that includes name, Service number, and vaccination details.

Members who are eligible for provincial/territorial health care but received vaccination from the CAF should check with their civilian Medicare system to see how vaccines from the CAF can be added to their civilian records.

COVID-19 vaccines for Public Service employees

All Defence Team Public Service employees are encouraged to get any Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one becomes available to them.

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 once it becomes available if they are not covered by the CFHS system.

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 rollout plans in the provinces or territories, please refer to the provincial or territorial websites:

This image depicts a A young woman receives a COVID-19 vaccination.
A young woman receives a COVID-19 vaccination.

Returning to the workplace

In light of the announcement made Friday, August 13, 2021, the Government of Canada intends to require COVID-19 vaccinations for federal public service employees and Canadian Armed Forces members. The Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer and the Treasury Board Secretariat, with input from bargaining agents and departments, will determine the approach in how Defence Team members will be asked to confirm their vaccination status. As further details unfold, they will be communicated to all Defence Team members.

Visit the Defence Team Resuming work web page for the latest information.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Defence Team Public Service employees

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines

Defence Team specific information

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