COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID-19

Last Updated: February 24, 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Eligibility|Booking an Appointment|Getting a Vaccine|Vaccine Safety| How the Vaccine Works| After Immunization|Planning & Distribution| Other Questions

Eligibility

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

A: Fall 2021 (Phase 3) is the current estimate.

Alberta Health Services is the only authorized means of vaccine delivery in Alberta. Any offers to provide vaccination to the public for a fee are not legitimate and should be reported to your local law enforcement agency’s anti-fraud/scam unit via the police non-emergency telephone line.

Q: Can I join a waitlist to be prioritized?

A: No - Alberta does not have a waitlist.

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.

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

More information will be shared as it becomes available. Please do not call Health Link about eligibility.

Q: What is the rollout plan for the vaccine?

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

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

Sign up through Alberta Health to get notified when it's your turn to be vaccinated.

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 responders

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

Eligbility will move from Group A towards Group D. Timelines are subject to change depending on vaccine supply.

Detailed information on how eligible Albertans will receive the vaccine will be released prior to each group.

Group A

  • Albertans aged 65 to 74, no matter where they live
  • First Nations and Métis people aged 50 to 64, on and off reserve or Métis Settlements
  • Staff of licensed supportive living not included in Phase 1

Group B

  • Albertans aged 18 to 64 with high-risk underlying health conditions
  • Specific conditions will be provided prior to Phase 2 roll-out

Group C

  • Residents and staff of eligible congregate living settings: correctional facilities, homeless shelters, group homes including disability, mental health and other types of licensed supportive living
  • Health-care workers providing direct and acute patient care who have a high potential for spread to high risk individuals
  • Caregivers of Albertans who are most at risk of severe outcomes

Group D

  • Albertans aged 50 to 64, no matter where they live
  • First Nations and Métis people aged 35 to 49 on and off reserve or Métis Settlements

Work to identify sequencing for all other groups is underway. If additional vaccines are approved and become available, people between the ages of 18 and 64 who work in specific workplaces or industries may be included in Phase 2.

Phase 3: Fall 2021

  • Anticipated start of roll-out to the general public

Q: What criteria are used to determine which healthcare workers receive COVID-19 vaccine first?

A: Working within the immunization allocation parameters outlined by Alberta Health, AHS identified several groups of healthcare workers to be included in the initial phase of roll out. These groups were selected to support acute care capacity and to protect populations at highest risk of severe outcomes.

See Vaccine Sequencing for Healthcare Workers for more information. A pdf version is also available to print and share with your teams.

Q: Will the COVID-19 vaccines be available for children?

A: Vaccines in Phases 1 and 2 will only be authorized for people 16 years and older (Pfizer- BioNTech) or 18 years of age and older (Moderna) and will require two doses per person for optimal immunity to COVID-19.

Booking a COVID-19 Immunization Appointment

Q: How will I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

A: Different groups will recieve the vaccine at different times and have different methods for booking.

Albertans Born in 1946 or Earlier

Book your first and second dose COVID-19 immunization appointments online or by calling Health Link at 811.

You will need to answer a series of eligibility questions and then you may choose the date, time and location of your appointment. Family members and friends can book on your behalf.

See COVID-19 Vaccine Booking for Albertans for more information.

Residents living in Lodges & Private Supportive Living

Residents living in one of these facilities will be contacted directly through their care team when the vaccine will be provided onsite. See COVID-19 Vaccine Booking for Albertans for more information.

First Nations, Métis & Persons 65 Years Of Age & Over Living In A First Nations Community Or Metis Settlement

Community health staff will administer the pandemic vaccine program, unless the community has existing agreements with AHS for the provision of immunization services. Please reach out to your community leaders for more information.

For Eligible Healthcare Workers (Including Respiratory Therapists) In:

  • Intensive care units
  • Emergency departments
  • COVID-19 units, medical, surgical units and operating rooms
  • Homecare

Eligible staff will receive an email directly from AHS with a unique link to go online and book their appointment. Visit the FAQ page if you have questions about the online booking process.

Staff In Long Term Care (LTC) & Designated Supportive Living (DSL) Facilities

AHS is working directly with facilities to immunize staff via outreach programs. You will be notified directly by your leaders.

Paramedics & Emergency Medical Responders

Eligible staff will either be notified directly by their leaders, or via email from AHS with a unique link to go online and book their appointment. Visit the FAQ page if you have questions about the online booking process.

Q: I am an eligible healthcare worker but I have not yet been contacted to book my appointment. What can I do?

A: In order for AHS to respond to reduced vaccine supply over the past month, adjustments were made to the COVID-19 vaccine implementation plan.

If you are a healthcare worker and have any questions about your eligibility, see the Top COVID-19 Vaccine Sequencing Questions for more information. You may also contact your supervisor or medical leader. Please do not call Health Link.

Please continue to visit this page for updates and continue to follow all public health guidelines to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Getting a Vaccine

Refer to COVID-19 Vaccine on MyHealthAlberta for information on:

  • Who Should Get the Vaccine
  • How Many Doses You Need
  • How Well the Vaccine Works
  • Side Effects
  • Info for Those Who:
    • Are Pregnant or Breastfeeding
    • Have a Weak Immune System
    • Have an Autoimmune Disorder
  • Who Should Not Get the Vaccine

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: I’ve recovered from COVID-19, should I still get the COVID-19 vaccine?

A: Yes, you should still be immunized. There is no mandatory waiting period between having COVID-19 disease and being immunized; however, it is recommended that people wait until they are feeling better.

Q: Should I leave a gap between getting the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine?

A: Everyone should get immunized against influenza each year. Having both illnesses at once can be dangerous. It is recommended that individuals wait at least 28 days after the administration of the two-dose COVID-19 vaccine to get another vaccine, including the flu shot. It is also recommended to wait for a period of at least 14 days after the administration of another vaccine, including the flu shot, before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

After Immunization

Refer to COVID-19 Vaccine on MyHealthAlberta for information on:

Q: I received the COVID-19 vaccine, now what?

People who have received COVID-19 vaccine are still required to follow all measures put in place to prevent the spread of the virus. This includes all public health measures and for healthcare workers, existing PPE guidance, including continuous masking, continuous eye protection and IPC recommendations for COVID-19.

The vaccines being used in Alberta are good at protecting people from developing illness caused by COVID-19 but no vaccine is 100 per cent effective.

As we learn more about the vaccines and more people have been immunized, we’ll be able to revisit the requirements for people who have been immunized. In the meantime, it’s important that people who have been immunized continue to follow public health measures in order to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.

Q: I recently received the COVID-19 vaccine, but a few days later I developed symptoms and then tested positive for COVID-19. Why did this happen

A: None of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in use in Canada contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.

After COVID-19 immunization, it takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity so that you are protected from the virus. Therefore, you can still get infected with COVID-19 just before or just after being immunized, and become sick after your immunization occurred.

The COVID-19 vaccines are not 100 per cent effective. Although immunization will greatly reduce your risk of becoming infected with COVID-19, there is still a small chance that you can become infected even after being immunized.

Q: I recently received the COVID-19 vaccine and a few days later I was tested for COVID-19 and the result was positive, even though I had no symptoms. Did the vaccine cause a false positive test?

A: None of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in use in Canada will cause you to test positive on a COVID-19 test.

There are two types of tests that are used to diagnose COVID-19, an antigen test and a PCR test. Neither test will detect the material in the current COVID-19 vaccines or the body’s response to the immunization.

If you are asymptomatic and test positive for COVID-19 after being immunized, then this positive test is the result of current or recent COVID-19 infection. After COVID-19 immunization, it takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity so that you are protected from the virus. Immunization will greatly reduce your risk of becoming infected but there is still a small chance that you can become infected even after being fully immunized.

Planning & Distribution

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: Will I have to pay for the vaccine?

A: No, the COVID-19 vaccine is free and is being offered to key populations identified in the province's phased immunization program.

AHS is the only authorized means of vaccine delivery in Alberta. Any offers to provide vaccination to the public for a fee are not legitimate and should be reported to your local law enforcement agency’s anti-fraud/scam unit via the police non-emergency telephone line.

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

A: Decisions around immunization sequencing are being made very thoughtfully and 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. For more information, see Vaccine Sequencing for Healthcare Workers.

Vaccine Safety

Check out Immunize Alberta for Common Questions about Vaccine Safety.

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.

How the Vaccine Works

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: None of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in use in Canada contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. The vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.

Q: Will mRNA change my DNA?

A: No. Injecting mRNA into a person does not change the DNA of a human cell.

Other Questions

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.

Vaccines make your immune system stronger. They build antibodies to help prevent diseases. Immunization is safe. It is much safer to get immunized than to get COVID-19 disease.

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.

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Additional Information

AHS Staff & Health Professionals