COVID-19 vaccines for Defence Team members
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.
To defeat the pandemic, we all need to do our part. This means continuing to respect local health protocols, wearing a mask, physical distancing, washing our hands, and getting vaccinated.
Information on this web page will be updated regularly, so please be sure to visit often.
On this page
- COVID-19 vaccines for Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members
- COVID-19 vaccines for Public Service employees
- Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines
COVID-19 vaccines for Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members
- CAF posture on COVID-19 vaccines
- COVID-19’s effect on CAF operations
- CAF vaccination rollout
- How CAF members will get their COVID-19 vaccines
- What to expect at CAF immunization clinics
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.
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.
The COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary for CAF members. Whether or not a vaccine will be made a requirement for an operation or a position, is a decision to be made by an operational commander. This will be in consultation with their medical advisor and legal advisor and with regard to local conditions.
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:
- Receive an information sheet that tells you about the vaccine that will be administered to you
- Have a discussion with the immuniser about your medical conditions and allergies
- Record your vaccination in your needle book and/or after care sheet
- Stay on-site for monitoring after vaccination
- Potentially experience mild side effects
The following video provides CAF members with an overview of the immunization clinic process: What to expect at your COVID-19 vaccine appointment?
COVID-19 vaccines for Public Service employees
Stay up-to-date on the COVID-19 vaccination rollout and vaccine availability in your province or territory!
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:
- British Columbia
- New Brunswick
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- Northwest Territories
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
Returning to work
Proof of immunization will not be mandatory to return to the workplace. According to the Surgeon General CAF Vaccine Rollout Message on January 6, 2021, the COVID-19 vaccination is not mandatory and will remain a voluntary option for all.
Visit the Defence Team Resuming work web page for the latest information.
Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines
- Government of Canada’s Vaccines for COVID-19 web page
- Vaccines for COVID-19: Authorized vaccines (Government of Canada)
Defence Team specific information
- Frequently Asked Questions on COVID-19 vaccines for the Defence Team
- National Defence Business Resumption
- Guns Out: Vaccine Doses for CAF Personnel (Maple Leaf, January 20, 2021)
- Surgeon General CAF Vaccine Rollout Message (Maple Leaf, January 6, 2021)
- Surgeon General’s message on the COVID-19 vaccine (Maple Leaf, April 7, 2021)
- DT News interview: MGen Marc Bilodeau, CAF Surgeon General on the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine (April 13, 2021)
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