Vaccines for COVID-19: How to get vaccinated

It's important for everyone 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 staying vaccinated with booster doses.

Vaccine protection decreases over time. If it has been more than 6 months since your last vaccine dose, get another dose by contacting 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:

Benefits of vaccination

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

Getting vaccinated can 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 recovery.

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Primary series

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

The immune response to the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is not as strong or sustained as 2 doses. The second dose is essential for better, longer-lasting protection.

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Additional primary series dose for people who are immunocompromised

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

For this population, 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 (second, third or fourth doses)

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 are important because protection from a primary series decreases over time.

Booster doses increase your defences by activating your immune response to restore protection that may have decreased over time. They improve protection against severe outcomes and may also reduce the risk of post COVID-19 condition.

If it’s been longer than 6 months since your last dose, consider getting another dose by contacting your province or territory, or health care provider.

Whether it's a booster dose or a primary series, you may be offered a different COVID-19 vaccine than the one you received previously. It’s safe and effective to do so. Talk to a health care provider about which COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for you.

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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 provide better protection against these variants.

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

Original COVID-19 vaccines and bivalent vaccines are both very effective in protecting against severe illness and outcomes from COVID-19.

Bivalent vaccines are only approved for use as a booster dose.

If you’re recommended to get a booster, especially if you’re at increased risk, don’t delay getting one until the bivalent vaccine is available. Both original and bivalent vaccines are effective as a booster. Anyone choosing to delay a booster dose for a bivalent vaccine should carefully assess their individual risk.

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

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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 3 to 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 it has been 6 months since your last vaccine dose or infection, get your booster to stay up to date on your vaccinations. In some provinces and territories, you may be offered a booster as soon as 3 months after your last dose.

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 and timing on what vaccines are being offered may differ by region.

If you have questions about the timing of your COVID-19 vaccine doses following a COVID-19 infection, 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. General considerations include if you:

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