Vaccines for COVID-19: What to expect at your vaccination

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Authorized vaccines

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:

Recommended vaccines

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

How to get vaccinated near you

Before you arrive at your vaccination appointment:

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:

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:
  • redness
  • soreness
  • swelling
  • chills
  • fatigue
  • joint pain
  • headache
  • mild fever
  • muscle aches

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:

Allergic reactions

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:

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.

Travelling

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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