COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID-19

Last Updated: August 3 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

Second Dose|AstraZeneca / Covishield|Eligibility|Youths Under 18|Booking an Appointment|Why Get Immunized|Getting a Vaccine|Vaccine Safety| How Vaccines Work| After Immunization|Planning & Distribution|Other

Second Dose

Anyone who has had a first dose of vaccine 28 days ago or longer will be eligible to receive their second dose.

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To ensure that protection lasts as long as possible, the second dose is necessary and will be offered to all.

Note: Do not book before you are eligible. Your appointment will be cancelled.

Visit alberta.ca/covid for updates on second dose eligibility.

Q: Who is eligible?

A: Anyone who received their first dose of vaccine 28 days ago or longer is now eligible to book an appointment for their second dose. Anyone that had their first dose with Pfizer or Moderna (mRNA vaccine) can visit ahs.ca/covidvaccine to book an appointment. Anyone that received AstraZeneca for their first dose can call Health Link at 811 to book their second dose with either AstraZeneca, or an mRNA.

Those who are eligible to book their second dose appointment and who consented to be contacted by Alberta Health Services (AHS) when they booked their first dose appointment with AHS, will be notified when it’s time to book their second dose appointment. However, Albertans do not need to wait to be contacted to book once they become eligible.

For those who did not consent to receive a text message or automated phone call, or if they received their first dose at a pharmacy, can see below for information on when they will be eligible to book. The Alberta Health Services Facebook page will also provide regular updates.

Note: Do not book before you are eligible. Your appointment will be cancelled.

Family bookings: The AHS online booking tool has been updated and now allows eligible Albertans who received the same vaccine product, to book second dose appointments at the same time and at the same clinic for up to three additional family members.

How to book: ahs.ca/covidvaccine

Visit alberta.ca/covid for updates on second dose eligibility groups.

Q: I am not in the current eligibility group but booked a second dose appointment. Can I attend that appointment?

If you have a second-dose appointment booked but are not eligible (i.e. booked your appointment too early), Health Link will call to inform you that your second-dose appointment is cancelled and you will have to reschedule at a later date, when you are eligible. Visit ahs.ca/covidvaccine for updates on when you may be able to book an appointment.

Q: What information do I need to book my second dose appointment?

Everyone will need the date of their first immunization and type of vaccine they received to book their second dose appointment.

Those who are eligible to book their second dose appointment, and who consented to be contacted via text message or receive an automated phone call from Alberta Health Services, will be notified when it’s time to book their second dose appointment.

This text message or phone call will include the date of their first immunization and type of vaccine they received.

For those who did not consent to receive a text message or phone call, or if they received their first dose at a pharmacy, and don’t remember the date of their first dose or which vaccine they received, they can check the Care After Immunization sheet that was provided to them at the time of their immunization, or check MyHealth Records. Health Link is also available to help at 811.

Q: Is it possible to interchange brands of vaccine between doses? For example: If received Pfizer for first dose can the second dose be Moderna, or vice versa?

Both Pfizer and Moderna are mRNA vaccines and work in the same way.

They are about 94-95% effective in preventing COVID-19 disease and they also protect against severe COVID-19 illness, risk of hospitalization or death. These vaccines have similar side effects, with the most common being pain at the injection site, tiredness, or headache.

While typically people will be booked to receive the same mRNA vaccine for their second dose that they got for their first dose, it is not essential. In some situations, based on available supply, individuals will receive a different mRNA vaccine for their second dose than their first.

There is no reason to believe that a second dose with a different mRNA vaccine product would result in additional safety issues or deficiency in protection. Two doses of any of the COVID-19 vaccines available in Alberta is considered a complete, safe and protective vaccine series. (International jurisdictions may or may not have the same criteria).

Q: What if I received AstraZeneca as my first dose?

A: AstraZeneca remains a safe and effective vaccine.

Those who received AstraZeneca/ COVISHIELD as their first dose will be asked to choose to book their second dose with either AstraZeneca or an mRNA vaccine.

The Alberta Advisory Committee on Immunization has recommended that those who received AstraZeneca/ COVISHIELD as a first dose be offered a choice between AstraZeneca and an mRNA vaccine for a second dose.

We understand some people have concerns about AstraZeneca, and there are some people who have a contraindication to mRNA vaccines, so this allows them more options for immunization to be fully protected against COVID-19.

Choosing a second dose of AstraZeneca has a small risk of VITT – likely smaller than the risk after the first dose – and a post-second dose effectiveness of around 80%.

Choosing a second dose of mRNA vaccine has a higher risk of post-vaccine reactions like headaches, fever and muscle aches, but has the potential to offer higher overall protection and no known severe adverse events.

Those who received AstraZeneca / Covishield for their first dose and choose to receive AstraZeneca for their second dose, can book their appointment by calling 811. Second dose appointments for AstraZeneca cannot be made at pharmacies due to available supply.

Those who received AstraZeneca / Covishield for their first dose and choose to receive an mRNA vaccine for their second dose, can book their appointment by calling 811.

Two doses of any of the COVID-19 vaccines available in Alberta is considered a complete, safe and protective vaccine series. International jurisdictions may or may not have the same criteria.

Q: What happens if I miss my second dose?

If for some reason the administration of the second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is delayed, you will have the opportunity to book another appointment as soon as possible.

Emerging evidence shows first doses of the vaccine are at least 80 per cent effective at preventing severe illness and longer spacing between doses does not reduce the protection or duration of immunity for multi-dose products. This data include studies in healthcare workers, long term care residents, elderly populations and the general public. Real world vaccine effectiveness is typically lower than what you would see in clinical trials which report 92 per cent protection from symptomatic disease two weeks after a single dose.

Second doses increase protection and ensure you are protected for as long as possible.

Q: Am I still able to book a first dose if I have not yet received one?

A: First doses remain the priority.

If you have not yet received your shot, please book yours as soon as possible. The more Albertans who have vaccine protection against COVID-19, the sooner we can put this pandemic behind us.

Q: If most people already have a first dose, do we still need a second dose?

A: A single dose of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccines offer at least 80% protection against severe outcomes, including hospitalization and death. However, second doses are needed to get the most long-lasting protection against the virus.

AstraZeneca / Covishield

Q: What is AstraZeneca / Covishield?

A: Covishield is the brand name of a vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India that is considered comparable to AstraZeneca / Covishield by Health Canada. AstraZeneca / Covishield was approved by Health Canada on Feb. 26, 2021.

Q: Who should get this vaccine?

A: The AstraZeneca / Covishield vaccine will continue to be offered safely for people 18 years of age and older who have an allergy or who have had a reaction to an mRNA vaccine or any of the ingredients in the vaccine and those who decline mRNA vaccines.

To book your first dose, see ahs.ca/covidvaccine.

Q: Have there been any reported cases of vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) in Alberta or the rest of Canada?

A: While every adverse reaction is unfortunate, it is important to remember that these blood clots are extremely rare.

The risk of VITT in Canada as of May 8, 2021 has been estimated to be approximately 1 per 55,000 doses.

For updated information on VIIT cases in Alberta, visit COVID-19 Vaccine Program.

Q: What should I know about vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT)?

A: The risk of experiencing any blood clots is very low. However, as with anyone who receives any medication, including a vaccine, we encourage you to monitor your health and seek immediate medical attention if you experience any health concerns. The rare reports of VITT happened four to 42 days after getting the vaccine.

If you experience any of the following symptoms in the 4 to 42 days after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, please seek immediate medical attention. Symptoms include:

  • a severe headache that does not go away
  • seizure
  • difficulty moving a part of the body
  • new blurry vision that does not go away
  • difficulty speaking
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • severe abdominal pain
  • new severe swelling
  • pain or colour change of an arm or a leg

Q: How effective is this vaccine?

A: AstraZeneca / Covishield has been shown to reduce infection by 60 – 70 per cent and severe outcomes like hospitalization by 80 per cent. The vaccine is widely used in the United Kingdom, France and other countries.

Q: Where can I get the AstraZeneca / Covishield vaccine?

A: How to book: see ahs.ca/covidvaccine

Q: What should I consider when making my decision?

A: If you are thinking of getting the AstraZeneca / Covishield vaccine, we encourage you to speak with your healthcare provider. In consultation with them, you can determine if the benefits of immunization outweigh potential risks based on your health and circumstances.

We encourage everyone to review current evidence in order to make the best and most informed decision about your health, the health of your loved ones and the greater community. Refer to Health Canada for more information on AstraZeneca / Covishield.

Refer to Why Get Immunized for more information.

Eligibility

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

A: As of May 10, 2021 all Albertans born in 2009 or before (12+) are eligible to book their first dose.

How to book: see ahs.ca/covidvaccine

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

A: Vaccines are currently authorized for people 12 years and older (Pfizer- BioNTech) or 18 years of age and older (Moderna and AstraZeneca / Covishield) and require two doses per person for optimal immunity to COVID-19.

Q: Is Pfizer-BioNTech approved for youths aged 12-15 by Health Canada?

A: The vaccine is approved for people who are 12 years of age and older. Its safety and effectiveness in people younger than 12 years of age have not yet been established.

Health Canada first authorized this vaccine with conditions on December 9, 2020, under the Interim Order Respecting the Importation, Sale and Advertising of Drugs for Use in Relation to COVID-19. On May 5, 2021, the authorization was expanded to include individuals aged 12 to 15.

Youths Under 18

Q: Is consent from a parent or guardian required for a minor to be vaccinated?

Parental consent for minors under the age of 18 is required. In some circumstances, a minor may be determined to be a mature minor who has the capacity to consent to being vaccinated on their own behalf. This is determined on a case by case basis.

Q: Is there a consent form parents or guardians are required to sign?

Prior to receiving their immunization, minors (under 18 years of age) if they are not deemed a mature minor will require parental consent. If the parent/guardian is in attendance, verbal consent is appropriate. If a parent/guardian cannot be in attendance, a consent form can be signed and provided if they are not deemed a mature minor to the immunizer prior to administering the vaccine. This form can be found here: Consent for COVID-19 Immunization

Q: Does a parent or guardian need to accompany the minor to their immunization appointment to provide consent?

A: While it is preferred verbal parental consent be provided in person at the immunization appointment, if the parent is unable to attend the appointment, the minor can bring a signed consent form.

In circumstances where a minor does not have signed consent form but is deemed mature by the attending immunizer, parental consent is not required.

Providing immunization for a mature minor and the assessment leading to this decision by the attending immunizer is done on a case by case basis.

Q: If parental consent is required, can this be provided electronically or remotely?

A: The parental consent form can be viewed or downloaded electronically. However, electronic signatures or submitting the signed consent form electronically is not possible at this time.

Parents are asked to print the consent form, sign it, and send it with the youth, or individual accompanying the youth, to the immunization appointment.

Q: Can a parent accompany the youth being immunized if the child requests it?

A: Yes. A parent can accompany a youth to their immunization.

Q: What if a minor does not have a parent or guardian willing to provide consent, but the youth would like to get the vaccine?

A: In some circumstances, a a youth under the age of 18 may be determined to be a mature minor who has the capacity to consent to being vaccinated on their own behalf.

This is determined by each healthcare provider and takes into consideration a number of factors including age, and ability to understand the benefits and risk of the vaccine.

Providing immunization for a mature minor and the assessment leading to this decision by the attending immunizer is done on a case by case basis.

Booking a COVID-19 Immunization Appointment

Why Get Immunized

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.

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.

Q: How do I make the decision on which vaccine is right for me?

A: This decision is a personal choice. AHS, in conjunction with Alberta Health, recommends all Albertans get immunized as soon as they are eligible no matter what vaccine option is provided.

Those at the highest risk of severe outcomes or transmission of COVID-19 to those at high risk are recommended to receive the mRNA vaccines.

All COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for use in Canada - Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) and AstraZeneca / Covishield, are safe and effective, and will help prevent serious illness.

We encourage you to speak with your healthcare provider. In consultation with them, you can determine if the benefits of immunization outweigh potential risks based on your health and circumstances. We encourage everyone to review current evidence in order to make the best and most informed decision about your health, the health of your loved ones and the greater community.

Widespread immunization will help all Albertans return to a more normal way of life, sooner.

Q: I have underlying health conditions. Is the vaccine right for me?

A: We understand some people may be anxious about whether the COVID-19 vaccine is right for them. It is always best to speak to a healthcare professional about your concerns so you can decide together whether the vaccine is right for you.

Alberta Health has provided a list of underlying health conditions to help determine if you are eligible for the vaccine.

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: Do the current vaccines work against the variant strains of COVID-19?

A: Mutations in the COVID-19 virus are expected, resulting in variant strains of COVID-19 to emerge. At this time, there are several variant strains circulating around the world, and vaccine manufacturers are conducting studies to determine whether current vaccines work against these variants. We are watching this information closely. Studies by Pfizer have indicated their COVID-19 vaccine appears to work against the variants of the coronavirus first discovered in the U.K. and South Africa. Moderna has announced that its COVID-19 vaccine elicits virus neutralizing antibodies in trial participants that work against the new variants found in the U.K. and South Africa, in the laboratory setting. Studies for the AstraZeneca / Covishield vaccine have shown the vaccine works against the strain first discovered in the U.K., but may work less well for the variant first discovered in South Africa. Data about the efficacy of the licensed COVID-19 vaccines against the variants of concern is evolving. All manufacturers and countries that are using these vaccines continue to conduct further studies to learn more.

Q: Can I choose the vaccine I want when booking or at my appointment?

A: If you have a contraindication or allergy to a vaccine ingredient, we encourage you to speak with your healthcare provider before you receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

When booking a first dose vaccine appointment, you will be able to choose if you want to receive AstraZeneca or an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna). Albertans are also being given a choice in the vaccine they will receive for their second dose. Whichever dose you get as your second dose will complete your immunization series and offer protection against COVID-19.

Q: Am I able to choose between Pfizer or Moderna vaccines?

A: At this time, individuals cannot choose their vaccine, unless you have a medical condition such as a severe reaction to a vaccine ingredient.

Both Pfizer and Moderna are mRNA vaccines. They are about 94-95% effective in preventing COVID-19 disease and they also protect against severe COVID-19 illness, risk of hospitalization or death. These vaccines have similar side effects, with the most common being pain at the injection site, tiredness, or headache.

If you have a contraindication or allergy to a vaccine ingredient, we encourage you to speak with your healthcare provider before you receive the COVID-19 vaccine. If you have questions, you may also call Health Link at 811 to speak with a registered nurse.

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.

Ingredients

Q: Should I get vaccinated even if I’ve had COVID-19?

A: Yes. People with previous COVID-19 infection should continue to receive a complete vaccine series at the recommended intervals.

While having had the disease offers some protection against future infection, there’s not enough data about that level of protection to know when it tapers off or how protective it is against new variants.

Getting fully vaccinated offers the best protection possible from the virus.

Q: Is there a mandatory waiting period between recovering from COVID-19 and receiving the vaccine?

There is no mandatory waiting period between having COVID-19 disease and being immunized; however, if you have had COVID-19, you must wait until you have completed your required isolation period and are feeling better before being immunized

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 14 days after the administration of a 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.

Q: Now that adolescents (born in 2009 or earlier) are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, will this affect other immunizations?

A: There is a lack of evidence to determine whether giving two different types of vaccines at the same time, or close together, could impact the way the vaccines work. Therefore, in Alberta we are recommending that there be space between the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines, including those typically recommended for adolescents.

Given the high rates of COVID-19 in Alberta it is a priority for all eligible individuals to be immunized as soon as possible. That may mean that other immunizations have to be rescheduled. Individuals should wait at least 14 days after a dose of COVID-19 vaccine to get another vaccine. They should also wait for at least 14 days after receiving another vaccine, before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

All immunizations are important to ensure maximal protection against infectious diseases. For more information about vaccines that may be recommended for you, or your child, please visit: www.immunizealberta.ca.

Q: I am scheduled to have a surgery soon. Is it safe to still receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

A: Most surgical procedures would not impact the safety or effectiveness of immunization. While there are no contraindications related to COVID-19 vaccine administration and surgery, individuals may experience adverse events following their immunization which may impact their ability to attend a surgical procedure. Side effects, such as fever, would typically occur within 24 hours of having received a COVID-19 vaccine and would normally resolve within 48 hours. Therefore, it may be advised to avoid immunization within the seven days prior to undergoing a major surgery. For surgeries that impact the immune system (e.g. transplantation) the full vaccine series should be completed 2 or more weeks in advance of the immunocompromising state, if possible.

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.

If you have been immunized for COVID-19, different quarantine rules may apply if you are exposed to a person with COVID-19. This is because you are less likely to get sick or spread the virus to others. See Quarantine for Immunized Close Contacts for more information.

As we continue to learn more about the vaccines and more people have been immunized, we’ll be able to revisit these requirements. 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.

Q: Will I receive an immunization record at my appointment?

A: You will receive an immunization record at the time of your appointment. If you are 14 years of age and older, you can print a copy of your immunization records from MyHealth Records. If your child is under 14 years of age, you can contact an AHS Public Health Clinic, pharmacist, or family doctor for a copy of their immunizations or request a copy at their next immunization appointment.

Q: I received my immunization outside of Alberta. How will it be added my immunization records?

Individuals who have received any COVID-19 immunizations outside of the province, or outside of the country, are now able to submit that information to be added to their health records through a new, secure, web-based portal.

The online portal is available at ahs.ca/vaccineregistry.

People can submit out-of-province or out-of-country immunization records on behalf of themselves or their child/youth under 18 years of age.

Submitting out-of-province and out-of-country immunization records ensures Albertan’s health records are fully up-to-date. It also provides an accurate record of who has been immunized.
If someone is unable to access the online portal, a copy of the immunization record can also be brought to an AHS Public Health Clinic.

Q: I’ve already brought my out-of-province or out-of-country COVID-19 immunization records to an AHS Public Health Clinic to be added to my health record. Do I need to upload them through the portal, too?

A: If you have already submitted your out-of-province or out-of-country COVID-19 immunization records to an AHS Public Health Clinic you do not need to upload them through the portal. After bringing in a copy of your records to Public Health, they will be added to your health record within 2-3 weeks.

Q: Can I upload other, non-COVID immunization records through the portal?

A: At this time, the Immunization Record Submission portal can only be used for out-of-province and out-of-country COVID-19 immunization records.

Q: I received my first dose of COVID-19 vaccine outside of Alberta. How will it be added to my immunization records?

A: Individuals who have received one dose outside of Alberta are asked to bring a written record of their first dose when they are eligible to receive their second dose.

Out-of-province and out-of-country immunizations can be uploaded to the Immunization Record Submission online portal, available at ahs.ca/vaccineregistry, to then be reviewed by AHS and added to a person’s health records.

Q: I received a COVID-19 vaccine outside of Canada that is not approved by Health Canada. Am I eligible to take an mRNA series when I return to Canada?

Provincially, Alberta considers all vaccines with emergency authorization by the WHO as being valid. If individuals have received one or two doses of a WHO approved vaccine , but not a Health Canada authorized vaccine, they may still get immunized in Alberta with an mRNA vaccine, if they choose.

Q: Is there a waiting period between vaccine series?

If individuals choose to complete an mRNA vaccine series upon their return to Alberta, individuals must complete their 14-day mandatory Federal quarantine. To minimize interference with previous vaccines, it is recommended to wait four weeks after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine in another country before receiving a dose of a Health Canada authorized vaccine.

Q: Will a third dose or booster be required?

With current global vaccine supply and ongoing trials for third doses and booster shots, Albertans are not eligible for third doses at this time. For more information, please visit COVID-19 Vaccine Program.

Vaccine Safety & Side Effects

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.

Q: Have there been any adverse events following immunization with the COVID-19 vaccine?

A: The Government of Alberta has the most up-to-date figures on adverse events following immunization (AEFI) with the COVID-19 vaccine.

Q: I am experiencing side-effects from the COVID-19 vaccine, what do I do?

A: Many people have no side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. If you do have side effects, they tend to be mild and go away in a few days. Please refer to the COVID-19 immunization after care sheet for a list of symptoms.

As with anyone who receives any medication, including a vaccine, we encourage you to monitor your health and seek immediate medical attention if you experience any health concerns. Having a serious side effect after an immunization is very rare.

If you do have a serious or unusual side effect you should call Health Link at 811 to report. If you are seriously ill and need immediate medical attention please call 911.

Healthcare providers play a crucial role in monitoring vaccine safety and are obligated to report adverse effects that may be linked to immunization. Adverse events are reported to the AHS Provincial AEFI Team.

Q: Have there been any reported cases of Myocarditis and Pericarditis Following COVID-19 Vaccines Alberta or the rest of Canada?

A: A small number of cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and/or pericarditis (inflammation of the lining around the heart) following immunization with COVID-19 vaccines have been reported in Alberta and Canada, as well as internationally. These cases are very rare and most reported cases to date have followed vaccination with an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna).

While every adverse reaction is unfortunate, it is important to remember that these side effects are extremely rare.

For updated information on myocarditis and pericarditis following COVID-19 vaccines in Alberta, visit COVID-19 Vaccine Program.

Q: What should I know about myocarditis and pericarditis following COVID-19 vaccines?

In the U.S. and Israel, the reports of this rare side effect are being seen most often in younger people, mostly males, under 30 years of age, most often after getting the second dose of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine).

Canada and the U.K. have not reported the same trends, possibly due to the fact second doses in younger people have not yet been given in large numbers.

Most cases had mild illness, responded well to conservative treatment and rest, and their symptoms improved quickly.

Usually, symptoms started within one week after vaccination (4-7 days).

People should seek medical care and let the healthcare providers know about their recent COVID-19 immunization if they develop chest pain or pressure, shortness of breath, or the feeling of a rapid or abnormal heart rhythm after immunization.

For more information and regular updates, visit alberta.ca/covid.

How the Vaccines Work

Q: How do the COVID-19 vaccines work?

A: There are different types of COVID-19 vaccines.

mRNA vaccines

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.

Learn more about COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.

Viral vector-based vaccines

The AstraZeneca / Covishield and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines are viral vector-based vaccines. These vaccines use a harmless virus, such as an adenovirus, as a delivery system. This “vector” virus is not the virus that causes COVID-19. Adenoviruses are among the viruses that can cause the common cold. When a person is given the vaccine, the vector virus contained within the vaccine produces the protein that is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19.This protein will not make you sick. It does its job and goes away. Through this process, the body is able to build a strong immune response against the spike protein without exposing you to the virus that causes COVID-19.

Learn more about viral vector-based vaccines for COVID-19.

Q: Will mRNA change my DNA?

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

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.

Planning & Distribution

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

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

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 COVID-19 vaccine is being offered in a phased approached, so people most at risk get it first.

Q: Do 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.

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 the need to protect populations at highest risk of severe outcomes.

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

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

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).

Additional Information

AHS Staff & Health Professionals