Vaccines for COVID-19: How to get vaccinated

It's important to stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations to reduce the risks of severe illness and death from COVID-19. You can do this by getting your first vaccine doses (primary series) and booster doses when recommended.

Vaccine protection can decrease over time. If you haven’t yet received a booster dose but were recommended to this past fall, get one now to stay up to date.

You can get a booster dose by contacting the local public health authority in your province or territory.

COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada are widely available and free of charge.

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Book a vaccination appointment

Find out if you need another COVID-19 vaccine dose. Book an appointment through your province or territory:

Bivalent vaccines

The virus that causes COVID-19 has evolved over time and some of these changes have created new variants of concern.

Manufacturers have updated their vaccines to help provide better protection against variants, particularly the currently circulating Omicron variant.

The updated vaccines are called "bivalent" because they target 2 strains of the COVID-19 virus: the original strain and an Omicron strain.

Original COVID-19 vaccines and bivalent vaccines both provide good protection against severe outcomes of COVID-19.

Bivalent COVID-19 vaccines are only approved for use as a booster dose. They’re the preferred vaccine for all individuals recommended to receive a booster dose. Bivalent vaccines are approved as booster doses for those 5 years of age and over.

You can check with your province or territory to see what vaccines are recommended for you.

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Benefits of vaccination

Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to protect against COVID-19. All approved COVID-19 vaccines used in Canada are effective at helping to protect against severe illness, including hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

Getting vaccinated may also reduce the likelihood of developing symptoms of post COVID-19 condition. Post COVID-19 condition, also known as long COVID, is when people still experience symptoms of COVID-19 for weeks or months after their initial infection.

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Primary series

Most COVID-19 vaccines begin with 2 doses. These initial doses are called a primary series.

Having a complete primary series and at least 1 booster dose is very important for better, longer-lasting protection.

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Additional primary series dose for people who are immunocompromised

If you're immunocompromised due to disease or treatment, you may have a lower immune response to COVID-19 vaccination.

For people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends the following:

  • A primary series of 3 doses of an mRNA vaccine should be offered to individuals considered moderately to severely immunocompromised.
    • Those who received other vaccine types to begin their primary series should receive an additional dose of an mRNA vaccine.
    • The doses in the primary series should be given 4 to 8 weeks apart.

People moderately to severely immunocompromised are encouraged to speak with a health care provider to learn more about vaccination and other ways to protect themselves against COVID-19.

Book a booster appointment

Contact your province or territory for a booster:

Booster doses

Doses of the COVID-19 vaccines received after the primary series are called booster doses. Booster doses increase protection from a primary series that may have decreased over time by reminding your immune system of past vaccinations.

They improve protection against severe outcomes and may also help to reduce the risk of post COVID-19 condition.

Bivalent COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for the booster dose. They’re approved for those 5 years of age or older.

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Vaccination after previous infection

It's safe to receive a COVID-19 vaccine following infection. Vaccination is very important, even if you've had COVID-19. While infection alone provides some protection, vaccination after infection:

Evidence indicates that waiting a period of time after a COVID-19 infection before getting a booster dose can help improve the immune response.

It's recommended that you receive your booster dose 6 months after you tested positive or started having symptoms. A shorter interval of at least 3 months may be recommended in some circumstances.

Timing of vaccination

If you haven’t yet received a booster dose but were recommended to this past fall, get one now to stay up to date.

Provinces and territories design and deliver their own vaccination programs. When making decisions about their programs, they consider the needs and circumstances, including COVID-19 activity, of their region. As a result, vaccination recommendations, timing of vaccination and which vaccines are being offered may differ by region.

If you have questions about the timing of your primary series vaccination, including booster doses, contact your province or territory.

COVID-19 booster dose: Contact your province or territory

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When to consult with a health care provider

If you have questions about getting your vaccine, consult with a health care provider, including if you:

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