Vaccines for COVID-19: What to expect at your vaccination
On this page
- Authorized 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 safe, effective and of high quality.
For detailed information on authorized vaccines, including how they work, ingredients and possible side effects, go to:
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 pain or discomfort from vaccination because of the needle. But there are a number of techniques you can use to make the vaccination more comfortable and limit pain or discomfort.
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
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 medicine after your vaccination to help with any pain or to lower a fever. Ask your health care provider what they recommend to manage symptoms.
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. 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 911 right away if you develop any serious symptoms after vaccination 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 you to be watched for possible reactions or side effects. Let someone know if you're experiencing any symptoms following vaccination.
After vaccination, ask for a record of any vaccines you receive.
Most COVID-19 vaccines require 2 doses. While current evidence shows good effectiveness after 1 dose, a second dose is essential for longer-lasting and optimal protection. For your second dose, return at the time advised by your health care provider.
Continuing public health measures
It isn't yet known whether the spread of COVID-19 can be stopped by vaccination alone. Because of this, it's essential that everyone continue to follow public health measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.
As more vaccines are given, some of the more restrictive public health measures can be lifted. Learn more about life after vaccination.
Starting July 5, 2021, there will be some exemptions for people who are eligible to enter Canada, who also meet specific conditions for fully vaccinated travellers.
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