Last Updated: January 15, 2021

Vaccines are a critical way to limit the spread of COVID-19. They are effective and safe. Immunization protects your health, as well as the health of your loved ones and the community.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who is currently eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Alberta Health, with input from Alberta Health Services, has identified the following key populations to be included in the province's phased immunization program.

Q: How can those who are identified as eligible book their appointment?

AHS has created a COVID-19 immunization online booking tool for identified eligible healthcare workers (phase 1, 1A) to book their COVID-19 immunization appointments online from their phones or computers. Eligible healthcare workers receive a direct email to notify them they are eligible. If you are a healthcare worker and have any questions about your eligibility, contact your supervisor or medical leader. Do not call Health Link.

Visit the FAQ page if you have questions about the online booking process.

Important Note: The tool is not open to other phases at this time. There is currently no way to sign up to be waitlisted. Further information about booking options for future phases (1B, 2 and 3) will be communicated once available.

Q: I’ve received my first dose, and I’m not sure about what to do about the second dose?

A: If you were booked via a phone call from a vaccine booking team, you will receive another phone call to schedule your second dose. Please be patient as we have a backlog of calls to make, and it may take a few days before you receive your phone call.

Q: How do I reschedule my second dose appointment?

A: If you have booked your appointment using the online booking tool, you can reschedule it via the link provided to you in your confirmation email, or by accessing the tool directly as long as you have your confirmation number. You can reschedule your appointment up to 3 hours before the appointment time.

If you have booked your second dose via phone, for Edmonton and Calgary Zones, you can reschedule your appointment by calling Health Link at 811, for Central Zone call 403-348-8810 and for North and South Zones, please call your closest Public Health Centre.

Q: How do I cancel my second dose appointment?

A: If you have booked your second dose using the Online Booking Tool via the link in your email, you can cancel your appointment by calling Health Link at 811.

If you have booked your second dose via phone, for Edmonton and Calgary Zones, you can cancel your appointment by calling Health Link at 811, for Central Zone call 403-348-8810 and for North and South Zones, please call your closest Public Health Centre.

Q: Who receives the COVID-19 vaccine first?

A: AHS is working within the immunization allocation parameters outlined by Alberta Health to provide immunization to key populations as vaccine supply becomes available.

Healthcare workers included in the initial phases are selected based on their level of interaction with COVID-19 positive cases and with populations most vulnerable to COVID-19, as well as their role within the frontlines of the COVID-19 response. This includes healthcare workers supporting acute care, long term care (LTC), designated supportive living (DSL) and home care. This will ensure we protect patients, residents and clients at highest risk of severe outcomes.

Exact amounts and timelines are subject to change. The approach will be amended as needed depending on vaccine supply.

Early Phase 1: December 2020

  • Focus on acute care sites with the highest COVID-19 capacity concerns:
    • Healthcare workers in intensive care units
    • Respiratory therapists
    • Staff in long term care (LTC) and designated supportive living (DSL) facilities

Phase 1A: January 2021

  • Respiratory therapists
  • Healthcare workers in intensive care units
  • Staff in LTC and DSL facilities
  • Home care workers
  • Healthcare workers in emergency departments
  • All residents of LTC and DSL facilities, regardless of age
  • Healthcare workers in COVID-19 units, medical and surgical units and operating rooms
  • Paramedics and emergency medical technicians

Phase 1B: February 2021 (timeline subject to change depending on vaccine supply)

  • Seniors 75 years of age and over, no matter where they live
  • First Nations, Métis and persons 65 years of age and over living in a First Nations community or Metis Settlement

Phase 2: April to September 2021

  • Work to identify sequencing for Phase 2 groups is underway. Decisions will be made in 2021

Phase 3: Fall 2021

  • Anticipated start of roll-out to the general public

Q: Who is responsible for vaccine planning?

A: Alberta has a robust system already in place to provide access to vaccines for routine immunization programs, including seasonal influenza campaigns and outbreak response activities. The Federal Government is responsible for supplying the COVID-19 vaccine while Alberta Health is responsible for vaccine policy setting and allocation of the vaccine. Alberta Health Services is responsible for administering the COVID-19 vaccine as part of the provincial immunization program.

Q: Which COVID-19 vaccines are approved for use in Canada?

A: To date, two products are approved by Health Canada:

Q: When did COVID-19 vaccine first arrive in Alberta?

A: Alberta began receiving vaccine doses in December 2020 for limited distribution.

Q: When will more COVID-19 vaccine arrive?

A: It will take several months for our province to receive enough vaccine for everyone to be immunized. That is why Alberta Health and AHS are being very thoughtful and strategic around who will be eligible to receive vaccine as it becomes available in our province.

COVID-19 vaccination planning continues to develop rapidly; we will keep our staff, stakeholders and the public up-to-date as more information becomes available.

Q: When will the COVID-19 vaccine be available to the general public?

A: We anticipate COVID-19 vaccine will be available to the general public starting in Phase 3 (Fall 2021).

Q: Can I join a waitlist to be prioritized?

A: We know many people are anxious to be immunized for COVID-19, including those who are considered higher-risk or have other underlying health conditions.

At this time there are no wait lists to join or applications for early immunization consideration.

Please continue to follow all public health guidelines to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Q: Why is Alberta distributing COVID-19 vaccine in a different way compared to other provinces?

A: Decisions around COVID-19 sequencing are being made very carefully. There are many factors to consider, including vaccine supply and specifically in our province at the current time, the need to support acute care capacity. We need to protect populations at highest risk of severe outcomes.

Q: What goes into making sure vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccines, are safe and effective?

A: Canada is recognized around the world for high standards for vaccine review, approvals, and monitoring systems. Only vaccines that are safe and effective will be approved for use in Canada. After a vaccine is approved for use, evidence on safety and effectiveness is reviewed by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization who provide recommendations on immunizations for individuals and for public health programs.

Q: How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

A: Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. These vaccines contain the genetic instructions for making a protein that is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. It uses our cells to make this protein and triggers our immune system to make antibodies against it. Then, if the real virus enters our body in the future, these antibodies will help fight the infection.

Q: Can the COVID-19 vaccine give me a coronavirus infection?

A: mRNA vaccines do not contain the virus so it cannot give you COVID-19.

Q: What if I am allergic to ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccine?

A: It’s possible that someone may have an allergic reaction after receiving COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals with known allergies to any of the components of the vaccine should not receive it.

The components of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine include:

  • Medicinal ingredient:
    • Tozinameran (mRNA encoding the Spike protein for the SARS-CoV-2 virus)
  • Non-medicinal ingredients:
    • ALC-0315 = (4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate)
    • ALC-0159 = 2-[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide
    • 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine
    • cholesterol
    • dibasic sodium phosphate dehydrate
    • monobasic potassium phosphate
    • potassium chloride
    • sodium chloride

The components of the Moderna vaccine include:

  • Medicinal ingredient:
    • mRNA
  • Non-medicinal ingredients:
    • 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DSPC)
    • acetic acid
    • cholesterol
    • lipid SM-102
    • polyethylene glycol (PEG) 2000 DMG
    • sodium acetate
    • sucrose
    • tromethamine
    • tromethamine hydrochloride
    • water for injection

Q: Do healthcare workers need to wear gloves when administering a vaccine?

A: Vaccine providers are not required to wear gloves when administering vaccine. Infection prevention and control practices are part of immunization procedures. They include hand hygiene (handwashing or use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer) before vaccine preparation, between vaccine recipients, and whenever the hands are soiled. The Canadian Immunization Guide does not routinely recommended gloves unless the skin on the vaccine provider’s hands is not intact (cuts, blisters etc).

Q: Why is immunization important?

A: Although some individuals are at greater risk for severe complications, without immunization, we have seen that even healthy Albertans are at risk of severe illness and even death from this virus.

With the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine in Alberta, we have the opportunity to slow the spread of the virus, and ensure our most vulnerable and at-risk populations are protected from COVID-19. The vaccine will also help reduce the strain on our healthcare system and allow elective surgeries, and other postponed services to continue.

We all must do our part to protect one another. Immunization is the single most effective means of protecting yourself, your loved ones and the greater community from COVID-19.

Additional Information

AHS Staff & Health Professionals