COVID-19: Share information about vaccination and public health measures at your community event

Find accurate information about COVID-19 to share at your community event. Topics covered are COVID-19 vaccines, public health measures, mental health and misinformation.

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Overview

This information guide provides COVID-19 learning resources, including infographics, videos and web page links to help you:

Benefits and effectiveness of vaccination

Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to protect ourselves against COVID-19. Evidence indicates that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine protect me against new variants?

Even if a COVID-19 vaccine isn't as effective against a variant, people who have received a complete primary series of the vaccine will have better protection against getting very sick from the virus. A booster dose increases protection even more and helps to maintain longer-lasting protection against COVID-19.

Do I need to get the vaccine if I've already had and recovered from COVID-19?

Even if you've had COVID-19 before, it's important to be vaccinated. Although you may have some protection from a past infection, it's uncertain how long that protection will last or how strong it will be. You can increase your immunity by getting vaccinated even if you've been infected.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has suggested the time period to wait after an infection to help support the best immune response. For people who are eligible for a booster dose, NACI suggests waiting 3 months from the infection or 6 months for your last dose in your primary series, whichever is longer. Your local public health authority or health care provider can provide advice on your eligibility and if you have questions.

At a minimum, if you've tested positive for COVID-19, you should wait to receive the COVID-19 vaccine until you:

  • no longer show symptoms of COVID-19 infection and
  • are no longer infectious

If you had COVID-19 and want a booster dose, there are no safety concerns with receiving your booster dose less than 3 months since infection. A longer interval between infection and vaccination is suggested. This is because it may result in a better immune response and longer-lasting protection against variants.

Do I need to get the vaccine if I've already had and recovered from COVID-19? (Ask the experts video series)

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Safety and side effects

Only vaccines that have been shown to be safe, work well and are of high quality are approved for use in Canada.

How do we know the COVID-19 vaccines are safe?

COVID-19 vaccines were rigorously tested during their development and carefully reviewed by Health Canada. Health Canada will only approve vaccines where the benefits outweigh the risks of COVID-19.

How do we know the COVID-19 vaccines are safe? (Ask the experts video series)

Without long-term data, how do we know the vaccine is safe?

Millions of people in Canada and billions around the world have received their first, second or third dose of COVID-19 vaccines. The majority have only experienced mild side effects. A significant amount of research goes into the development of a vaccine before a single person receives a dose in a clinical trial.

Only vaccines that are safe, effective and of high quality are approved for use in Canada. Importantly, all vaccines are monitored in Canada for as long as:

  • they're in use
  • it's clear that the health risks of COVID-19 are far greater than risks from COVID-19 vaccines

Without long-term data, how do we know that the vaccine is safe? (Ask the experts video series)

Do COVID-19 vaccines have side effects?

After being vaccinated, it's common to have temporary side effects. These usually last from a few hours to a few days after vaccination. This is the body's natural response, as it's working hard to build immunity against the disease.

Serious reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine are rare, but mild to moderate reactions are common, such as:

  • soreness, swelling or redness at the injection site
  • chills
  • fatigue
  • joint pain
  • mild fever
  • headache
  • muscle aches

As with all medications, there's a very small chance that there will be a serious side effect from vaccination.

For mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, effects have included rare cases of myocarditis or pericarditis and allergic reactions. Myocarditis and pericarditis is inflammation of the heart or the lining on the outside of the heart. People with this condition generally get better quickly after seeking medical care. Consult with your health care provider if you have concerns due to your particular medical situation. For serious allergic reaction, immediate medical attention should be sought.

Do COVID-19 vaccines have side effects? (Ask the experts video series)

Can I get a different vaccine than my first or second dose?

It's important for people to stay up to date with their vaccines, including getting their booster if they're eligible. This will help protect against COVID-19 and its variants. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines can be used interchangeably, meaning either approved mRNA vaccine is effective as a second or additional dose.

mRNA vaccines use the same technology and provide excellent protection. Depending on your age group, there may be a preferred vaccine. You can feel confident in accepting whichever vaccine is made available to you.

If you're unable or unwilling to receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, it's recommended you speak to your local public health authority. They'll be able to tell you whether other vaccine options are available to you.

Can I get a different vaccine for my second dose? Are there any possible new side effects? (Ask the experts video series)

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Ingredients

Are there any ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccine that I should be concerned about?

Ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccines have shown to be safe. They leave the body shortly after vaccination, as with all vaccines. There are small amounts of ingredients in the vaccines, each of which has a specific purpose in making the vaccine work. The ingredient list for each vaccine is available online.

Are there any ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccines that I should be concerned about? (Ask the experts video series)

Are COVID-19 vaccines considered Halal?

Both the Muslim Medical Association of Canada and the Canadian Council of Imams have indicated the following vaccines are Halal:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty
  • Moderna Spikevax
  • AstraZeneca Vaxzevria/Covishield

Are COVID-19 vaccines considered Halal? (Ask the experts video series)

Do the COVID-19 vaccines contain gelatin, pork or pork products?

The following approved COVID-19 vaccines in Canada don't contain any gelatin or pork products:

  • mRNA vaccines: Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty and Moderna Spikevax
  • viral vector vaccines: AstraZeneca Vaxzevria and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)

Do the COVID-19 vaccines contain pork or pork products? (Ask the experts video series)

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Pregnancy, breastfeeding and fertility

Evidence shows that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty and Moderna Spikevax) have no particular safety concerns for:

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends you get a complete series with an mRNA vaccine if you're pregnant or breastfeeding.

Additionally, there's no evidence that fertility problems are caused by any vaccines, including the:

Can the COVID-19 vaccines affect fertility?

Multiple independent studies have shown that there's no evidence that mRNA and viral vector COVID-19 vaccines cause fertility issues for anyone.
Can the COVID-19 vaccines affect fertility? (Ask the experts video series)

Should I take the vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

If you're pregnant, even early on, you're at a higher risk of:

  • severe illness from COVID-19
  • serious problems in your pregnancy like:
    • having your baby too early
    • developing a serious condition, causing high blood pressure or stillbirth

Evidence shows that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty and Moderna Spikevax) have no particular safety concerns in pregnancy or breastfeeding. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines if you're pregnant or breastfeeding.

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For children 5 to 11 years old

Health Canada has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old. This vaccine for children is given as a smaller dose than the vaccine for those 12 years of age and older. This dosage is selected to provide the best immune response balanced with the fewest side effects. In clinical trials, lower doses provided children with very good protection against COVID-19.

Should young children get the COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID-19 is having a greater impact on children and youth than earlier in the pandemic. This is likely because many have returned to in-person school and activities at a time when the very infectious Omicron variant is circulating. COVID-19 vaccines help the body fight off the virus and prevents serious illness.

What are the benefits of vaccinating my child against COVID-19 when children are less at risk of getting really sick?

A COVID-19 infection can happen to any child. Even children without risk factors may develop severe forms of COVID-19. While children are less likely to get really sick from COVID-19, they can still experience rare but serious complications. This includes multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). We've seen some children with longer-term effects, even after recovering from a mild, initial infection.

What are the benefits of vaccinating my child against COVID-19 when children are less at risk of getting really sick? (Ask the experts video series)

What kind of testing is done before COVID-19 vaccines are approved for children?

The COVID-19 pediatric vaccine was tested in children using a lower dose than for youth and adults. Any COVID-19 vaccine is required to go through rigorous testing before being approved for use in Canada. Clinical trials assessed the vaccines' safety, including possible side effects and effectiveness, before they were approved for use by Health Canada.

Since the clinical trials, millions of children have safely received the pediatric Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine in Canada and around the world. Serious side effects continue to be very rare.

What kind of testing is done before COVID-19 vaccines are approved for children? (Ask the experts video series)

How are the children's COVID-19 vaccines monitored for safety and side effects?

All vaccines approved in Canada are closely monitored for as long as they're used. The federal government works with provinces and territories, vaccine manufacturers and other countries to monitor the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. In addition to the usual vaccine monitoring systems, Canada has a specific system called IMPACT to monitor the safety of vaccines in children.

How are the children's COVID-19 vaccines monitored for safety and side effects? (Ask the experts video series)

What common side effects might children experience after being vaccinated?

Some children will have no reactions to their COVID-19 vaccine, while others may have some short-term side effects. Common side effects are usually mild and go away on their own within hours or days.

They include:

  • soreness, swelling or redness at the injection site
  • chills
  • fatigue
  • joint pain
  • mild fever
  • headache
  • muscle aches

What common side effects might children experience after being vaccinated? (Ask the experts video series)

My child is big for their age or will turn 12 years old soon. Should they wait to receive the adult dose?

The COVID-19 vaccine for children 5 to 11 years of age has a smaller dose than the one for people 12 years of age and older. This lower dose is based on a child's age, not on their height or weight as we often see with other medications. Vaccination doses are chosen based on getting the best immune response with the least side effects based on age.

My child is big for their age or will turn 12 years old soon. Should they wait to receive the adult dose? (Ask the experts video series)

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For youth 12 to 17 years old

Health Canada has approved mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty and Moderna Spikevax) for youth 12 years of age and older. People 12 to 17 years old may receive the same 2-dose schedule recommended for adults. Some youth at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 are also recommended to receive additional doses or a booster dose.

How were the vaccines studied and tested for youth?

mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty and Moderna Spikevax) were tested in youth through clinical trials. These clinical trials compared the immune response, safety and effectiveness of the vaccine to a placebo. The immune response was also compared to older age groups. The vaccine provided very good protection against COVID-19.

If I'm young, healthy, and not at risk, why should I get vaccinated?

COVID-19 can have life-threatening complications and it's difficult to know how it will affect you. Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to protect our families, friends, communities, and ourselves against COVID-19. Scientific research suggests that being up to date with all recommended doses provides strong protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

How do I know a COVID-19 vaccine is safe for my youth without long-term data?

Vaccines approved for use in Canada are those that are proven to be safe, work well and be of high quality.

All vaccines have potential risks, but most side effects are mild and occur within days to weeks of vaccination. Importantly, all vaccines are monitored in Canada for as long as:

  • they're in use
  • it's clear that the long-term health risks of COVID-19 are far greater than that of COVID-19 vaccines

How do I know a COVID-19 vaccine is safe for my youth without long-term data? (Ask the experts video series)

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Boosters

Why do I need to get a COVID-19 booster dose? I already had 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Over time, protection from the primary series of a COVID-19 vaccine can decrease. By triggering more antibodies and other immune responses, a booster dose can help improve and provide longer-lasting protection against COVID-19. This includes against severe illness and death.

If you're eligible, it's important to get a booster dose as soon as possible. You may be offered a different mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty or Moderna Spikevax) for your booster dose. This may be different than the vaccine you received for your primary series. It isn't a problem to interchange vaccines if a different mRNA vaccine is offered.

If you're unable or unwilling to receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, it's recommended you speak to your local public health authority. They'll be able to tell you whether other vaccine options are available to you.

Why do I need to get a COVID-19 booster dose? I already had 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Ask the experts video series)

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Public health measures

Individual public health measures are actions you can take to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses, like flu. These measures are most effective when layered together and used alongside vaccination and include:

Regardless of your vaccination status, it's important to continue with individual public health measures because:

Make wearing a mask part of your regular routine

Masks may be recommended or required in public settings like:

  • stores
  • schools
  • businesses
  • workplaces
  • public transit

Even if masks aren't required in your area or the setting you're in, wearing a mask is an added layer of protection. It's very important for protecting yourself and the people around you.

Whether you're vaccinated or not, you should wear a well-fitted and well-constructed mask in shared spaces with people from outside of your immediate household. This is especially important indoors, whether in private or public settings. Masks are strongly recommended in any crowded setting, including settings with vaccination requirements.

As public health advice varies widely across Canada due to local situations, it's important that you:

  • continue to follow the recommendations and restrictions of your local public health authority
  • assess the risks before going out and make informed decisions to keep yourself and others safe

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COVID-19 testing

Testing helps limit the spread of the virus.

Why is testing important?

Testing can help identify who may be infected with COVID-19, including those without symptoms.

Testing tells us:

  • who has the infection
  • where in our communities the virus is spreading
  • how much the virus may be circulating in our communities

Contact your local public health authority for advice about testing if you:

  • think you may have COVID-19
  • have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19

What is self-testing or a COVID-19 rapid test?

Self-testing, also known as COVID-19 rapid tests, allow people to test themselves or others for COVID-19. These tests provide a snapshot of your current infection status.

COVID-19 rapid tests are easy to administer, safe to use and provide results in as little as 15 minutes. Always follow the instructions contained in your COVID-19 rapid test kit and those provided by your local public health authority. The instructions that come with rapid tests are specific to that particular type of test.

Self-tests are either antigen or molecular tests that can help screen for COVID-19. Some self-tests should only be used if you have symptoms, while others can be used with or without symptoms.

Rapid testing as a screening tool helps detect COVID-19 so you can quarantine to reduce the risk to other people. If you're using your rapid test as a screening tool, be sure to repeat the rapid test within 48 to 72 hours to confirm the result.

In some cases, serial testing may be done to increase the accuracy of the test if you don't have symptoms. Serial testing involves multiple tests performed over several days. This improves the likelihood that an infection will be found if it's there.

Information for patients: A guide to self-testing for COVID-19 (factsheet)

What to do after getting a COVID-19 test result?

If you get a positive result on a COVID-19 rapid test, immediately quarantine and follow local public health advice. Do not go out or have non-household members in your home.

If your rapid test result is negative, there's still a chance you could be infected and spread COVID-19 to others. Continue to follow local public health advice and individual public health measures, such as:

  • keep your space well ventilated
  • wear a respirator (if unavailable, wear a well-fitting medical mask)
  • maximize physical distance from other household members
  • frequently clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces and objects in your home
  • wash your hands often with soap and water
    • use hand sanitizer that's at least 60% alcohol if soap and water aren't available

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Mental health and coping with the effects of the pandemic

Approximately half of people living in Canada have reported their mental health has worsened since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Supporting the mental health and well-being of everyone in Canada is a priority for the Government of Canada.

Wellness Together Canada launched in response to the rise in feelings of stress, anxiety and depression due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wellness Together Canada:

We also launched PocketWell, a companion app to the Wellness Together Canada online portal, which:

Wellness Together Canada: Mental health and substance use support

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Misinformation and disinformation

Misinformation is information that is false or misleading, but presented as fact, regardless of intention. Disinformation is information which is intentionally created and circulated to deceive or mislead.

Now more than ever, we need credible information. Staying up to date with new information isn't an easy task. Misinformation about COVID-19 can be harmful. If you're reading or sharing information through social media channels, make sure that the information is from a source that you can trust. Everyone is encouraged to seek out and share trusted sources of information to help guide vaccination decisions, such as:

Take a look at the media literacy tips below and help stop the spread of misinformation online.

By countering the spread of misinformation, we can all continue to protect the people we love during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn more about:

Shareable and printable resources

Our latest COVID-19 resources include products that you can share with others by printing or using across your digital platforms.

COVID-19 main pages

General COVID-19 vaccine information

Factsheets and infographics

Videos

Video series

Social media images

COVID-19 vaccines for youth and children

Factsheets and infographics

Videos

Social media images

Public health measures

Factsheets and infographics

Videos

COVID-19 testing

Factsheets and infographics

Videos

Mental health

Digital and social media

As this is an evolving situation, please follow Health Canada and Public Health Agency of Canada social media channels for engagement opportunities. Feel free to engage through retweet, quote tweet or share on your official social media channels.

Subscription

Sign up online to receive updates from the Government of Canada about COVID-19.

Hosting your community engagement session

By leading an event, you're helping to build vaccine confidence within your community. Share the facts to help people make an informed decision about COVID-19 vaccination and public health measures. You can use this step-by-step guide to help you host a successful event.

Step 1: Plan your event

Set your intention

Think about your goals, networks and resources when planning your engagement session. You may want to explore the possibility of working with health experts, partners or groups.

When choosing a presenter for your session, consider the specific attributes of your audience and what expertise is available in your community or organization. An ideal choice is a health expert who is knowledgeable about COVID-19 vaccines and public health measures. Another good choice would be a trusted and credible community member.

Determine the kind of event you'll host

Choose if your event will be in-person or virtual.

If in-person, be sure to consult your local authority on the current public health measures.

If virtual, choose a virtual event platform that you and your participants are most familiar with.

Think about how you might use digital tools and technologies to extend the impact of your event.

Consider how you might make your event as inclusive and accessible as possible.

  • Secure necessary services in advance, for example:
    • American Sign Language (ASL)
    • Langue des signes du Québec (LSQ)
    • speech reading
    • communication access real-time translation (CART) services
      • CART captioning is a speech-to-text interpreting service
  • Live captioning benefits persons with disabilities and allows for a more inclusive event.
  • Choose a platform with accessibility features, such as assistive device compatibility and a "pin" video feature.

Make a plan

Select a date and time that will work for you and your intended audience. Think about how much time you'll need to prepare for and promote your event. Begin to develop the agenda for your event. If your event participants speak another language, you might consider hosting a bilingual event.

Set up registration

You may want to ask people to register for your event ahead of time. This can be as simple as:

  • asking people to email you in advance
  • using an event management website
  • using a videoconferencing platform to help with event registration

Step 2: Promote your event

Once you've decided on your planning details, you're ready to spread the word, invite participants and promote it to your community.

Send an invitation. Turnout at an event is often directly related to how people were invited.

Promote your event in various ways, such as:

  • email
  • social media
  • posters and flyers

Step 3: Develop a discussion plan for your event

In advance of your engagement session, plan and review your presentation and discussion points on COVID-19 vaccines and public health measures.

Identify topics you can cover in your discussion. You may also invite participants to submit questions ahead of time.

Determine how much time you'll need for activities such as welcoming participants, reviewing housekeeping items and providing background information.

Research trustworthy information on COVID-19 vaccines and public health measures to create your presentations and discussion points, using resources such as:

Include activities and various ways participants can ask questions that will increase interactivity and engagement.

Make a list of any supplies you'll need.

Plan how you'll conclude your event and capture the results of your event.

Step 4: Set up your event

Allow yourself time to prepare in advance.

  • Schedule a practice session before your event.
  • If your event is in-person, make sure you have enough time to set up the space to follow local public health measures.
  • If your event is virtual, prepare the videoconference platform for the discussion.
  • Perform a sound and video test ahead of the event.
  • Ensure you have a contact for technical issues if required.
  • Send a copy of the agenda, presentation and instructions on how to ask questions ahead of the event.

Step 5: Host your event

Ensure your attendees have a meaningful experience that gives everyone the opportunity to participate.

Let participants know if the event will be recorded in any way or shared afterwards if you intend to do so.

During the engagement session, encourage participants to ask questions and give feedback.

Step 6: After your event

After the event, it's important to provide participants with opportunities to continue the discussion by:

  • sending a follow-up email or message
  • sharing information, resources and tools about how they can stay informed after the event
  • encouraging participants to share feedback about the event

Step 7: Spread the word

Promote your engagement session after it's been held to highlight the work you're doing in your community.

Use your social media channels to encourage community members to get informed about the COVID-19 vaccines. Remember to share images and information on COVID-19 vaccines and public health measures.

For more information

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