COVID Vaccines in Canada

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists all over the world have been hard at work studying the virus, how it impacts individuals of all ages, races and genders, and creating vaccines to help prevent infection and transmission.

To date, Health Canada has approved the use of the following vaccines:

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Vaccines

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are what’s known as messenger RNA vaccines (also referred to as mRna.) These particular vaccines work by teaching our tells to create proteins which trigger an immune response. Once that immune response is triggered, your body will then create antibodies which are ultimately what help fight off the COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 infection should the virus enter your system.

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require the patient to receive two injections (a priming dose, followed by a booster shot) for full efficiency. If you receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the recommended interval between doses is 28 days; while 21 days is recommended for those who receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. However, many parts of the world have extended intervals between doses anywhere from 42 days to 4 months.

AstraZeneca Vaccine

Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which need to be stored at specific temperatures (at least -60ºC — -80ºC), the AstraZeneca vaccine does not require any special storage and can simply be stored inside of a standard refrigerator for as long as 6 months, making shipment easier.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is what’s known as a genetically modified adenovirus-vectored vaccine which also carries spike protein. Similar to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, when the AstraZeneca virus is administered the body will then build up a strong immune response against this spike protein and produce antibodies, protecting you from COVID-19.

Vaccine Side Effects

While there have been some adverse effects associated with these and other vaccines, they are generally safe and well tolerated. Typical side effects that can occur as a result of receiving a vaccine include things like pain at the site of the injection, fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills. These side effects are usually temporary and generally resolve on their own after a day or two.

When Can I Get My Vaccine?

Each Canadian province has different rollout systems for the vaccine. British Columbia is currently in Phase 2. To learn more about British Columbia’s immunization plan and vaccine eligibility, click here.

Originally published at on March 3, 2021.



Dr. Ali Ghahary is a Family Physician in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

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