Vaccines for COVID-19: What to expect at your vaccination
On this page
- Authorized vaccines
- Recommended vaccines
- Before you get to your appointment
- Tips for a comfortable vaccination experience
- Possible side effects and reactions
- After getting vaccinated
Health Canada has authorized vaccines for use in Canada. Not all of the authorized vaccines are available in all areas of the country.
All authorized vaccines are proven to be safe, effective and of high quality.
For detailed information on authorized vaccines, including how they work, ingredients and possible side effects, go to:
- Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine
- Moderna Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine
- AstraZeneca Vaxzevria COVID-19 vaccine
- Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine
Completing your vaccine schedule
Provinces and territories are responsible for planning their immunization programs. They will decide how best to incorporate the National Advisory Committee on Immunization's (NACI) guidance into their plans to meet their unique population needs.
Most COVID-19 vaccines require 2 doses. A second dose is essential for longer-lasting and optimal protection, including against variants of concern. If you have already had COVID-19 you may also be offered 2 doses.
A different COVID-19 vaccine may be offered for a second dose. This is known as a mixed vaccine schedule.
NACI recommends that mRNA vaccines (Moderna Spikevax or Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty) should be offered for both first and second doses. Your health care provider may offer you the AstraZeneca Vaxzevria vaccine depending on your unique health situation. For example, if you're allergic to an mRNA vaccine.
Learn more about:
Before you get to your appointment
Before you arrive at your vaccination appointment:
- talk to your health care provider about any questions or concerns you may have about vaccination
- plan which strategies you'll use during vaccination to limit discomfort or pain
- contact your provincial or territorial health authority if you have additional questions about how to prepare for your vaccination
Tips for a comfortable vaccination experience
Some people may experience discomfort, pain or stress from vaccination. But there are a number of techniques you can use to make the vaccination more comfortable.
Some helpful strategies include:
- sit upright during vaccination
- wear a short-sleeved or loose-fitting top
- relax your arm by letting it feel loose and jiggly
- use deep breathing to help you relax and feel calm
- if you feel dizzy or faint, tell the person who's vaccinating you right away
- distract yourself by reading or listening to music, or have a conversation
- talk to your health care provider ahead of time about pain relief that you can take
Learn more about:
Possible side effects and reactions
After getting vaccinated, it's common and normal to have temporary side effects. These can last a few hours to a few days after vaccination.
This is the body's natural response, as it's working hard to build protection against the disease.
Common vaccine side effects may include:
|Symptoms at the injection site, such as:||Flu-like symptoms, such as:|
Managing common side effects at home
You can take over-the-counter medicine after your vaccination to help with any pain or to lower a fever. Ask your health care provider how to manage any symptoms and if you're concerned about any symptoms post-vaccination.
You can also:
- apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area you received the injection
- use or exercise your arm
- drink plenty of fluids
Allergic (anaphylactic) reactions are very rare and typically occur between 15 and 30 minutes after vaccination. For this reason, you'll be monitored for this period of time after you get a vaccine. Notify your vaccinator if you have a history of serious allergic reactions.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:
- hives (bumps on the skin that are often very itchy)
- swelling of the face, tongue or throat
- difficulty breathing
Call emergency services right away if you develop any serious symptoms or symptoms that could be an allergic reaction.
Reporting a possible serious reaction
You should also report any serious reactions or side effects to your health care provider. Reported allergic reactions and side effects to COVID-19 vaccines are published weekly:
After getting vaccinated
The person vaccinating you will let you know where to wait and for how long after vaccination. The usual wait time is about 15 minutes or more. This allows time for staff to watch you for possible reactions or side effects. Let someone know if you're experiencing any symptoms following vaccination.
After vaccination, ask for a record of the vaccine you received.
Continuing public health measures
You should still follow safe practices for going out safely during COVID-19. Vaccination status is a consideration in making informed choices.
When enough people are vaccinated against COVID-19 and cases are down, it will be safer to lift public health measures that are restrictive.
There are some exemptions for people who are eligible to enter Canada, who also meet specific conditions for fully vaccinated travellers.
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