COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

COVID-19: The Government of Canada requires federal public service employees be fully vaccinated. This includes the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

In light of the announcement made October 6, 2021, the Government of Canada requires COVID-19 vaccinations for Defence Team public servants (including student, term and casual employees). In accordance with GC direction, the CAF will implement the CDS Directive on CAF COVID-19 Vaccination. 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 regularly, please visit often.

A one-stop information webpage has been created to provide the latest guidance and updates for all Defence Team members regarding COVID-19 vaccines. Please visit COVID-19 Vaccines for Defence Team members.

CAF Members

Is the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for all CAF personnel?

In light of the announcement made October 6, 2021, the Government of Canada requires federal public service employees to be fully vaccinated. In order to demonstrate leadership to other GC departments and to all Canadians, and continue to protect the Defence Team, the CAF will abide by the general spirit of this policy, while ensuring the CAF is situated to meet operational imperatives, through the implementation of the CDS Directive on CAF COVID-19 Vaccination.

The CAF will implement this Directive starting on October 8, 2021, with an attestation period ending on October 29, 2021 and implementation of the mitigation measures starting on November 15, 2021. This Directive 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. Additionally, the CAF COVID-19 Vaccination Policy will be a condition for enrolment into the CAF.

The vast majority of Canadians are eligible to receive the vaccine. In the exceptional case that you are unable to be vaccinated due to a prohibited ground under the Canadian Human Rights Act, such as a medical contraindication, you may request accommodation.

All CAF members, irrespective of their vaccination status, will be permitted to continue accessing the workplace, without additional conditions, until November 15, 2021.

Under the CDS Directive on CAF COVID-19 Vaccination, what is the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’?

CAF members vaccinated in Canada are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after they have either:

  • Received both doses of an HC authorized vaccine that requires two doses to complete the vaccination series. Mixed dose vaccination series are accepted as long as it aligns with NACI recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccines;
  • Received one dose of an HC authorized vaccine that only requires one dose to complete the vaccination series; or
  • For current residents of Quebec only, has had a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection followed by at least one dose of an HC authorized COVID-19 vaccine.

CAF members that have been vaccinated outside of Canada are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after they have either:

  • Received one additional dose of an mRNA vaccine at least 28 days after a complete or incomplete course/series of a non-HC authorized vaccine;
  • Met the definition for fully vaccinated in the jurisdiction in which they currently reside; or
  • Received three doses of any COVID-19 vaccine regardless if they are HC authorized vaccines or non-HC authorized vaccines.

I’m already fully vaccinated. What does this mean for me?

Starting October 8, 2021, CAF members who are fully vaccinated will need to confirm their vaccination status by October 29, 2021 through a one-time attestation process using MCS – Monitor MASS. CAF members who do not have access to MCS – Monitor MASS, will 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).

I’m not fully vaccinated. What does this mean for me?

If you are not already fully vaccinated, we advise you to book your appointment as soon as possible. The vast majority of Canadians are eligible to receive the vaccine. In the exceptional case that you are unable to be vaccinated due to a prohibited ground under the Canadian Human Rights Act, such as a medical contraindication, you may request accommodation.

Regardless of their vaccination status, all CAF Members will be required to provide attestation of their COVID-19 vaccination status by October 29, 2021 through a one-time attestation process using MCS – Monitor MASS. CAF members who do not have access to MCS – Monitor MASS, will 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).

Between October 29, 2021 and November 14, 2021 inclusively, CAF members who are non-compliant with the CDS Directive on CAF COVID-19 Vaccination due to being unwilling to disclose their vaccination status and/or who attest to not be fully vaccinated will be directed to attend a virtual educational seminar provided by healthcare workers on the benefits of COVID-19 vaccinations. From November 15, 2021 and onwards, CAF members unwilling to comply with this Directive may be subject to remedial or alternative administrative measures.

More information can be found in the CDS Directive on CAF COVID-19 Vaccination.

I’m partially vaccinated (single dose). What does this mean for me?

CAF members who become partially vaccinated (single dose) will update their vaccination attestation in MCS – Monitor MASS and will have 10 weeks to receive their second dose in order to comply with the CDS Directive on CAF COVID-19 Vaccination.

What will be the career ramifications for any CAF member who refuses the COVID-19 vaccine?

CAF members, whether they telework or not, are expected to be compliant with the CDS Directive on CAF COVID-19 Vaccination by having attested to their fully vaccinated status, or attested to being unable to be vaccinated and having provided acceptable substantiation. CAF members unwilling to comply with the Directive may be subject to remedial or alternative administrative measures. In future, additional measures for non-compliance with the Directive, such as members being placed on leave without pay may be implemented. A CAF member’s unvaccinated status may have additional consequential career implications, including loss of opportunities contributing to promotion, which are outside of CAF control. Examples may include the inability to attend career courses, deployments, domestic and international exercises and OUTCAN postings owing to domestic and international travel restrictions and other nations’ entry requirements. In the future, additional measures for non-compliance with the Directive, such as members being placed on leave without pay may be implemented.

I’m one of the exceptional cases where I am unable to be vaccinated due to a prohibited ground under the Canadian Human Rights Act. As a CAF member, how do I seek accommodation?

CAF members requiring accommodation under the CDS Directive on CAF COVID-19 Vaccination must make their request at the earliest possible opportunity. This will permit supervisors of those individuals the ability to determine and implement appropriate accommodation measures. Supervisors will provide temporary mitigation measures for the member while gathering relevant information on both the validity of the accommodation requirement and the appropriate measures.

As indicated in the Directive, CAF members who are unable to be vaccinated will provide one of three items:

  1. Forms completed by their personal healthcare providers indicating their certified medical contraindication or disability rendering them unable to be fully vaccinated;
  2. A sworn attestation containing information about the religious belief that prohibits full vaccination; or
  3. Attestation of the specific information about how the grounds of discrimination under the CHRA renders them unable to be fully vaccinated.

Accommodation measures for those unable to be vaccinated will be in place by November 15, 2021 and will continue for the duration of the Directive, unless they are required to be revised based on new information presented.

More information can be found in the CDS Directive on CAF COVID-19 Vaccination.

Does the CAF have sufficient COVID-19 vaccines for all eligible CAF members?

Yes, the CAF can source sufficient COVID-19 vaccines for all eligible CAF members.

Will Rangers or short-term Reservists be eligible for vaccination through the CAF when deployed to support communities?

Subject to approval from the Minister of National Defence, CAF designated vaccinations may also be provided to CAF Reserve Force members with less than 180 days of service per year, and Canadian Rangers in accordance with CAF priorities, operational imperatives, and subject to vaccine availability.

Are CAF members permitted to get a vaccine through provincial/territorial health care systems?

The CAF strongly encourages eligible members to receive their vaccination through the CAF health system, accepting that there may be circumstances in which members will receive their vaccination through their provincial or territorial health system. Eligible members that have not yet received their vaccine will be able to receive it through the immunization program at their supporting Health Services Centre.

How is the CAF providing updates on vaccines?

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian Forces Health Services has provided regular and timely updates to Defence Team members. This includes up–to-date information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine for CAF members.

In the Spring of 2020, the CAF launched a national CAF vaccination campaign and continues to update our members with the latest news through Bases/Wings communications, your chain of command, and the Defence Team COVID-19 Vaccine webpages. Please check the COVID-19 vaccines for Defence Team members web page for updates and information. This website contains a wealth of information related to COVID-19 vaccines for the Defence Team, including FAQs, articles, videos, external links, and DND and CAF social media accounts.

Will military personnel receive official documentation certifying/confirming that they have received the vaccine against COVID-19 for use when travelling domestically or internationally?

If you receive a COVID-19 vaccination from a Canadian Forces Health Service (CFHS) professional, you will be provided with proof of vaccination in your member vaccine booklet, or a card or record sheet, which includes the type of any vaccine administered, the date it was provided and other pertinent details. CAF vaccination booklets, and/or cards or record sheets provided to members when they receive their vaccine through the CAF vaccine clinic is a valid CAF proof of vaccination document and members can show these documents if asked to prove their vaccination status. Vaccination details are also logged into the Canadian Forces Health Information System, where members’ health records are stored.

CF Health Services is working closely with federal, provincial and territorial partners in the development of a national proof of vaccination document standard in order to ensure that CAF members have a document that will be accepted for international travel and across the country regardless of the jurisdiction. This document will be available in digital and paper form, and is anticipated by Fall 2021. In the meantime, public health officials in all Canadian jurisdictions are aware of the appearance of the CAF vaccination document (i.e., vaccine booklet or other clinic-issued document) and to accept it as proof of vaccination for CAF members. If you have any further questions or require updated information concerning the COVID-19 vaccine, please contact your local Canadian Forces Health Services Centre.

If I have both my vaccines and haven’t been near anyone suspected of having COVID-19 can the CAF force me to be tested?

Timely testing is an essential mitigation measure in the fight against COVID-19. The protocol for COVID-19 testing remains the same for Canadian Armed Forces members – a COVID-19 test is administered when there are clinical indications that a test is required, such as the member is displaying COVID-19 symptoms or has been identified as requiring testing through contact tracing.

CAF members are encouraged to use the Public Health Agency of Canada online self-assessment tool and to follow local medical clinics’ advice if they develop symptoms or they think they need to be tested for COVID-19. CAF members can be provided advice by phone when contacting their respective clinic, based on the results of the self-assessment tool.

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All Defence Team Members

Are Defence Team members who work remotely still required to be vaccinated?

Yes. To protect the health and safety of the Defence Team, personnel working from home (remote working) will not be exempt from the requirements of the CDS Directive on CAF COVID-19 Vaccination or the Government of Canada Policy on COVID-19 Vaccination.

Will on-site testing be available for those unable to be vaccinated but are required to be on site to perform their job?

As of November 15, 2021, Defence Team members who are unable to be fully vaccinated (with an approved request for accommodation) and who are required to report to work on-site will require regular screening. Screening kits (self-test kits) will be provided to these Defence Team members.

Has consideration been given to the CAF health system administering a COVID vaccine to civilians (unlike the flu vaccine effort)?

The core mandate of Canadian Forces Health Services is the provision of healthcare to CAF members. Vaccines for civilians are the responsibility of the provincial or territorial health system where they reside.

If I am feeling unwell after getting the vaccine, what type of leave do I use?

Public servants should use their sick leave (Code 210) if they are experiencing side effects after they receive the COVID-19 vaccine. CAF members can request sick leave from their CO for a maximum of two days.

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Public Service Employees

Are DND public service employees mandated to get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

The health and safety of all public service employees remains a priority for DND. As such, DND has a duty to ensure the health and safety of its employees in the workplace. Vaccines are the best way to bring this pandemic to an end, by protecting employees and their communities by reducing the risk of COVID-19.

In light of the announcement made October 6, 2021, the Government of Canada is now requiring federal public service employees to be fully vaccinated.

The vast majority of Canadians are eligible to receive the vaccine. In the exceptional case that you are unable to be vaccinated due to a prohibited ground under the Canadian Human Rights Act, such as a medical contraindication, you may request accommodation. Employees unable to be fully vaccinated, (with an approved request for accommodation) and who are required to report to work on-site, will require regular rapid testing.

Regardless of their vaccination status, the new policy requires that DND employees complete an attestation in the Government of Canada’s Vaccine Attestation Tracking System (GC-VATS) (Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome are the recommended browsers) by October 29, 2021. Public servants who do not attest to their vaccination status, or are unwilling to be vaccinated, will be placed on administrative leave without pay as of November 15, 2021.

As further details unfold, they will be communicated to all Defence Team members.

Under the Government of Canada Policy on COVID-19 Vaccination, what is the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’?

The DND/CAF definition of “fully vaccinated” will be aligned with Health Canada (HC)/Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) requirements, such as those specified for the purpose of inbound international travelers. A detailed definition of “Fully Vaccinated - COVID-19”, can be found in the Government of Canada Policy on COVID-19 Vaccination under Appendix A.

Is this vaccination requirement a temporary or permanent measure?

Treasury Board, in consultation with TBS, the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada, will review the vaccination policy at a minimum every six months to determine whether it is still required.

What are the directions for contractors who work in Public Service offices alongside public service employees?

Contracted personnel who require access to federal government worksites in order to perform work for the Government of Canada must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. While PSPC has contracts in place for its departmental needs and on behalf of other departments, it is important to note that other departments put contracts in place directly with suppliers. To provide a consistent, whole-of-government approach, PSPC will provide information to heads of procurement across government so that they may communicate this requirement with their contractors.

Contractors will be required to submit a certification for all applicable contracts (contracts where they require access to federal government worksites where government employees are present) certifying that any personnel who will access federal government worksites will be fully vaccinated.

Federal government worksites include all places of work under the responsibility of the Government of Canada within Canada where federal government employees are present. Normally, construction sites fall under the custody of the construction manager, so this requirement would not apply. However, there may be instances where construction work is being carried out in an office building that is still occupied, in which case the vaccination requirement would apply.

The vaccination of federal workers and those working in federal buildings will ultimately mean better protection for people accessing service points. As always, public health measures to decrease the risk of COVID-19 must be followed by all persons coming into federal worksites, including maintaining a physical distance of at least two metres, washing hands, wearing masks in common areas indoors or outdoors, and staying home when sick.

I’m already fully vaccinated. What does this mean for me?

DND employees who are already fully vaccinated will need to confirm their vaccination status in the Government of Canada’s Vaccine Attestation Tracking System (GC-VATS) (Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome are the recommended browsers). Here at National Defence, public service employees will start input of attestation information on October 15, 2021. It will only take a few minutes to complete the attestation. DND employees will need to have completed their attestation by October 29, 2021.

Employees and managers will need to be on the DWAN and have a PKI card to access GC-VATS. For employees who do not have the necessary IT assets (e.g. active PKI Card) to access the GC-VATS system, an alternative paper-based attestation method will be available using a PDF form (accessible only via the DWAN). The form will follow the same content and format as the online version.

For attestations received by managers where employees indicate either “fully vaccinated” or “partially vaccinated”, the process is as simple as 1-2-3:

  1. Employee completes the first 4 sections of the attestation form and sign it.
  2. Employee sends the completed and signed form to their manager.
  3. The manager reviews the form for completeness and sends it to P-OTG.VaccineAttest@intern.mil.ca

The positional mailbox team will ensure the attestation is counted for tracking purposes and retained in a secure, Protected B environment (GC Docs).

For attestations received by managers where employees indicate either “unvaccinated and requesting accommodation” or “unvaccinated”, managers are asked to submit the attestation form to the positional mailbox and to cc: their Labor Relations Officer (accessible only via the DWAN).

This will ensure that all managers obtain timely and consistent advice on how to proceed. Through their Labour Relations officer, managers will be able to securely transmit any supporting documentation to the team tasked with ensuring that all attestation-related documentation is securely saved in GC Docs (Protected B).

I’m not fully vaccinated. What does this mean for me?

If you are not already fully vaccinated, we advise you to book your appointment as soon as possible. Remember, in accordance with the Directive on Leave and Special Working Arrangements, public servants can use “Time off for personal medical and dental appointments” (code 698) for both COVID-19 vaccine appointments. The vast majority of Canadians are eligible to receive the vaccine. In the exceptional case that you are unable to be vaccinated due to a prohibited ground under the Canadian Human Rights Act, such as a medical contraindication, you may request accommodation.

Regardless of their vaccination status, public servants must complete an attestation in GC-VATS (Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome are the recommended browsers) by October 29, 2021. Public servants who do not attest to their vaccination status, or are unwilling to be vaccinated, will be placed on administrative leave without pay as of November 15, 2021.

Employees and managers will need to be on the DWAN and have a PKI card to access GC-VATS. For employees who do not have the necessary IT assets (e.g. active PKI Card) to access the GC-VATS system, an alternative paper-based attestation method will be available using a PDF form (accessible only via the DWAN). The form will follow the same content and format as the online version.

For attestations received by managers where employees indicate either “fully vaccinated” or “partially vaccinated”, the process is as simple as 1-2-3:

  1. Employee completes the first 4 sections of the attestation form and sign it.
  2. Employee sends the completed and signed form to their manager.
  3. The manager reviews the form for completeness and sends it to P-OTG.VaccineAttest@intern.mil.ca

The positional mailbox team will ensure the attestation is counted for tracking purposes and retained in a secure, Protected B environment (GC Docs).

For attestations received by managers where employees indicate either “unvaccinated and requesting accommodation” or “unvaccinated”, managers are asked to submit the attestation form to the positional mailbox and to cc: their Labor Relations Officer (accessible only via the DWAN).

This will ensure that all managers obtain timely and consistent advice on how to proceed. Through their Labour Relations officer, managers will be able to securely transmit any supporting documentation to the team tasked with ensuring that all attestation-related documentation is securely saved in GC Docs (Protected B).

Will testing replace vaccination for public servants who are unwilling to be vaccinated or to disclose their vaccination status?

No. As early as November 15, public servants who refuse to disclose their status or who are unwilling to be vaccinated will be subject to administrative leave without pay. Accommodation measures, including rapid testing, will only be available for employees unable to be fully vaccinated due to prohibited grounds under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Testing is not an alternative to vaccination, but rather an accommodation for those unable to be fully vaccinated. Vaccination, used in combination with preventive public health measures, offers the best available protection against COVID-19.

All employees will have access to a short training course on COVID-19 that provides the best available Public Health Agency of Canada/Health Canada--endorsed information about vaccines and how they work. This course will be available soon through the Canada School of the Public Service on GC Campus to employees and mandatory for any employees who are unvaccinated, or who have not completed their attestation by October 29.

Do I need to take time off to go get the vaccine? If so, what leave do I use?

For public service employees who secure an appointment for the vaccine during the work day, leave with pay for medical/dental appointments (Code 698) should be used. Even if you have to schedule two appointments, one for the first dose and one for the second dose, this does not meet the threshold for “recurring” appointments. Employees do not need to use their sick leave.

I’m one of the exceptional cases where I am unable to be vaccinated due to a prohibited ground under the Canadian Human Rights Act. What supporting documentation is required for me to seek accommodation?

Employees who are unable to be vaccinated based on a prohibited ground as defined under the Canadian Human Rights Act, such as a medical contraindication, may request accommodation. Although the vast majority of Canadians are eligible to receive the vaccine, there are some exceptional cases:

  • Certified Medical Contraindications:
    • The employee must provide documentation from their treating medical physician or nurse practitioner on the grounds for not receiving or for delaying the COVID-19 vaccine.
    • There are few acceptable medical reasons for delaying or not receiving the COVID-19 vaccination (e.g., an allergist/immunologist-confirmed severe allergy or anaphylactic reaction to a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of its components that cannot be mitigated, or a diagnosed episode of myocarditis/pericarditis after receipt of an mRNA vaccine), as per NACI Recommendations on the Use of Vaccinations.
  • Other Prohibited Grounds:
    • The manager should request an attestation of the details regarding the prohibited ground(s) of discrimination under the CHRA that render the employee unable to be fully vaccinated.

For the purposes of implementation of the vaccination policy and to ensure a consistent application of the criteria that defines when an accommodation may be granted, all requests for exemption and accommodation, must now be decided at the L3 level or above and in consultation with labour relations (accessible only via the DWAN).

Employees are highly encouraged to provide appropriate documentation as soon as possible and before November 15.

As of November 15, 2021, employees unable to be fully vaccinated (with an approved request for accommodation) and who are required to report to work on-site will require regular rapid testing.

What is the process for employees who have had one dose by November 15 but are not yet eligible for their second dose?

If a DND employee has received a first dose of a two-dose series, they are required to provide their manager with the date of their first vaccination. If they do not receive and report their second dose within the dosing interval specified by the jurisdiction in which they reside, they will be placed on administrative Leave Without Pay.

How will the privacy of individuals’ health information be ensured? Will the data be tracked centrally or by individual department?

The collection of all personal information from public servants will be done in accordance with the Privacy Act and associated Government of Canada policy instruments. The government engaged the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to ensure privacy considerations were at the forefront of this policy implementation. Aggregate information on attestations and accommodations is kept centrally. Specific accommodation information is limited to those with a need-to-know at the departmental-level.

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