Ask the experts COVID-19 vaccines questions: How the approved vaccines work

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Medical experts answer your common questions about the COVID-19 vaccines.

You can also check out their “My why” reasons for getting vaccinated.

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What are the differences between the vaccines? Which one is the best vaccine for me?

Transcript

A super appears on a pink background: COVID-19 vaccine questions

A person speaks directly to the camera to ask a question: What are the differences between the vaccines, and which one is the best one for me?

Cut to a surgeon in an operating room; then a super appears:

  • Dr. Kal Belay
  • Acute Care and Minimally Invasive General Surgeon
  • William Osler Health System

The doctor responds to the person’s question.

Dr. Kal Belay: That’s a great question. Simply put: all of Canada’s authorized COVID-19 vaccines provide a high level of protection against severe outcomes of COVID-19, so I encourage you to get the vaccine at the earliest opportunity.

Cut to a white screen with a pink border: Got questions?

Pop-up speech boxes appear with the following questions:

  • Do COVID-19 vaccines have side effects?
  • I’m young and healthy. Why should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
  • How was it possible to develop safe COVID-19 vaccines so quickly?

Cut to a new white screen with a pink border:

  • Good.
  • We’ve got answers.
  • Canada.ca/covid-vaccine

Narration: A message from the Government of Canada

The Canada wordmark with waving flag appears.

Learn more about:

How do the COVID-19 vaccines work?

Transcript

A super appears on a pink background: COVID-19 vaccine questions

A person speaks directly to the camera to ask a question: How do the COVID-19 vaccines work?

Cut to a doctor in their living room; a super appears:

  • Dr. Noni E. MacDonald
  • Professor of Pediatrics, Infectious Diseases
  • Dalhousie University and IWK Health Centre

The doctor responds to the person's question.

Dr. Noni E. MacDonald: COVID vaccines help our bodies develop an immune response to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness and potential bad complications that that virus can bring. The vaccine provides instructions to the immune system so that the immune system is able to develop that protective response. It gets all your soldiers ready to get out to fight against that virus.

Cut to a white screen with a pink border: Got questions?

Cut to a new white screen with a pink border:

  • Good.
  • We’ve got answers.
  • Canada.ca/covid-vaccine

The Canada wordmark with waving flag appears.

Learn more about:

Can someone get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

Transcript

A super appears on a pink background: COVID-19 vaccine questions

A person speaks directly to the camera to ask a question: Can someone get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

Cut to a doctor in an operating room; a super appears:

  • Dr. Kal Belay
  • Acute Care and Minimally Invasive General Surgeon
  • William Osler Health System

The doctor responds to the person's question.

Dr. Kal Belay: You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine because none of the authorized vaccines in Canada have the virus that causes COVID-19 in them. Some of the side effects of the vaccine such as injection site discomfort, fevers or muscle ache are normal symptoms related to the activation of the immune system by the vaccine as the body readies to defend itself.

Cut to a white screen with a pink border: Got questions?

Cut to a new white screen with a pink border:

  • Good.
  • We’ve got answers.
  • Canada.ca/covid-vaccine

The Canada wordmark with waving flag appears.

Learn more about:

What are mRNA vaccines and how do they work?

Transcript

An animated collage of photos of men and women of varying ages and cultural backgrounds appears on-screen.

Text on-screen: What are mRNA vaccines and how do they work?

Text on-screen: mRNA Vaccines: COVID-19 Vaccines Explained

A doctor in business attire appears on-screen.

Text on-screen: Dr. Guillaume Poliquin, Acting Vice President, National Microbiology Laboratory

Dr. Poliquin: mRNA vaccines are a new type of technology that has been brought to bear in the fight against COVID-19. It is based on about 20 years worth of research and is a new way to deliver instructions to our bodies to protect ourselves against COVID-19.

Text on-screen: How do they work?

Dr. Poliquin: The end goal of any vaccine is to provide our body with a memory of a particular protein that we want to be able to neutralize or get rid of if we're exposed to it in the future. There are a couple of different ways to give our body that memory response but it all depends on getting a protein to interact with our immune system. mRNA vaccines represent a new way of delivering that protein by giving rather than the material itself, giving our cells the instructions necessary to make that protein. 

Text on-screen: What happens to the mRNA?

Dr. Poliquin: After the mRNA has done its job, after a few days, the mRNA naturally is degraded by the body and it completely disappears.

Text on-screen: mRNA vaccines cannot alter or change our DNA. Why not?

Dr. Poliquin: mRNA vaccines do ultimately enter the cell. That's where they do their work and they are translated. But it's important to remember that our DNA is actually contained even further inside of the cell, inside of the nucleus. mRNA vaccines never get into the nucleus. They never interact with our DNA, and they never have an opportunity to change our DNA.

Text on-screen: Got questions?

Three speech bubbles with questions appear on the screen.

Text on-screen: Are the vaccines safe? Are side effects common? Are the vaccines effective?

Text on-screen: Good. We've got answers. Canada.ca/covid-vaccine

The Canada wordmark with waving flag appears.

Learn more about:

What are viral vector-based vaccines and how do they work?

Transcript

An animated collage of photos of men and women of varying ages and cultural backgrounds appears on-screen.

Text on-screen: What are viral vector-based vaccines and how do they work?

Text on-screen: Viral Vector-Based Vaccines: COVID-19 Vaccines Explained

A doctor in business attire appears on-screen.

Text on-screen: Dr. Guillaume Poliquin, Acting Vice President, National Microbiology Laboratory

Dr. Poliquin: When developing a vaccine, we are trying to get a message to the immune system so that the immune system is able to develop a response and remember it to protect us in the future. In the case of viral vector-based vaccines, we are using a benign virus, as a good example something like an adenovirus, which causes a cough or a cold, as a way to package and deliver to the body that key message so that it is able to develop that response to protect us in the future.

Text on-screen: How does this type of vaccine provide protection against COVID-19?

Dr. Poliquin: When using the adenovirus vector, the inside of the virus has been replaced by a set of instructions. That set of instructions is what is used by the body in order to make the S-protein, and it is that S-protein and the antibody memory that's triggered by it that protects Canadians from COVID-19 in the future.

Text on-screen: Can the vaccine give you COVID-19?

Dr. Poliquin: No, viral based vaccines are not able to give individuals COVID-19. The vector itself is not able to replicate and it only contains one part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the one that causes COVID-19, specifically the instructions for the outside protein. It does not have any of the other materials inside that would be necessary for it to cause a COVID-19 infection.

Text on-screen: Got questions?

Three speech bubbles with questions appear on the screen.

Text on-screen: Are the vaccines safe? Are side effects common? Are the vaccines effective?

Text on-screen: Good. We've got answers. Canada.ca/covid-vaccine

The Canada wordmark with waving flag appears.

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Other vaccination series in multiple languages

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