COVID-19 Vaccines: Frequently Asked Questions [ FAQ ]

COVID-19 Vaccines: Frequently Asked Questions [ FAQ ]

Health Canada has authorized the use of two COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine) for use in Canada under an Interim Order.

How does the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine work?

The vaccine causes our body to develop immunity against SARS CoV 2, the virus that causes COVID-19.  The vaccines use a molecule called messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) to deliver the set of instructions that cells in the body can use to make protective antibodies and immune cells to help fight the virus that causes COVID-19.

Can I contract COVID-19 from the vaccines?

No.  You cannot get COVID-19 from these vaccines. The vaccines being administered do not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. 

What’s in the vaccines?

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

Medical ingredient: mRNA

Non-medical ingredients: ALC-0315, ALC-0159, 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, cholesterol, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, monobasic potassium phosphate, potassium chloride, sodium chloride

Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine

Medical ingredient: mRNA

Non-medical ingredients: 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DSPC), acetic acid, cholesterol, PEG2000 DMG, lipid SM-102, sodium acetate, sucrose, tromethamine, tromethamine hydrochloride, water for injection.

How are the vaccines administered?

The vaccines are given by an intramuscular injection in the upper arm. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is given as 2 separate doses of 0.3 ml each given 21 days apart. The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine is given as 2 separate doses of 0.5 ml each given 1 month apart. It is very important that you return for the second injection, or the vaccine may not work as well. During and after each injection of the vaccine, the staff administering the vaccine will observe you for around 15 minutes to monitor for signs of an allergic reaction.

What are possible side effects from using the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine?

Like all vaccine, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine can cause side effects. Most side effects are mild and resolve in a few days.

Very common side effects of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine include

  • pain at injection site
  • tiredness
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • chills
  • joint pain
  • fever

Common or very common side effects of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine include:

  • Pain at the injection site
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle ache and stiffness
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Swelling or redness at the injection site
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Enlarged lymph nodes

How soon after vaccination will I be protected from COVID-19

It may take until 7 days after the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and 14 days after the second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine to develop protection against COVID-19. You should continue to follow the recommendations of local public health officials on physical distancing and mask wearing to prevent spread of COVID-19. 

Are the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine effective?

Both vaccines are highly effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infection. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine was tested in clinical trials involving 36,523 participants 16 years of age and older (18,198 in the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine group and 18,325 in the placebo group). In these participants, the efficacy of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine 7 days after the second dose was 95.0{dda34c51a707d708b8df0f9fe56394a28afdf2e99ae85d73167f47c5facedeca}. The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine was tested in trials involving 30,351 participants 18 years and older (15,181 vaccine group and 15,170 in the placebo group). In these participants, the efficacy of the vaccine 14 days after the second 2 was 94.1{dda34c51a707d708b8df0f9fe56394a28afdf2e99ae85d73167f47c5facedeca}. 

Will I still have to follow Public Health guidelines?

Yes. Continue to follow the advice of public health officials to prevent COVID-19, such as wearing a mask, and maintaining a physical distance of 2 metres from people outside of your household.

Who should take the vaccine?

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine are approved for use in persons from 16 years of age and older and persons 18 years of age and older respectively. The vaccines have not yet been approved for use in pregnant women.

You should not take the COVID-19 vaccine if the following applies to you:

  • You are allergic and or sensitive to any of the ingredients listed in the vaccine
  • Have a history of anaphylaxis after administration of vaccines
  • Women who are pregnant or will become pregnant until more evidence is available
  • Women who are breast feeding until more evidence is available
  • Individuals with an autoimmune disorder and or are immunosuppressed
  • If you have received another vaccine within the last 14 days (Do not receive another vaccine until 28 days after the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine)
  • If you are currently symptomatic or acutely ill

When should I seek medical attention?

All persons receiving the vaccine will be asked to wait at least 15 minutes after having gotten it.  Serious side effects after receiving the vaccine are rare. However, should you develop any of the following adverse reactions within three days of receiving the vaccine, seek medical attention right away or call 911 if you are severely unwell:

  • hives
  • swelling of the face or mouth
  • trouble breathing
  • very pale colour and serious drowsiness
  • high fever (over 40°C)
  • convulsions or seizures
  • other serious symptoms (e.g., “pins and needles” or numbness).

References

  1. Moderna Therapeutics Inc. (2020). Product Monograph Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA-1273 SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. Retrieved from https://covid-vaccine.canada.ca/info/pdf/moderna-covid-19-vaccine-pm1.pdf
  2. Pfizer Canada ULC, BioNTech Manufacturing GmbH. (2020). Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine [COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine] Product Monograph. Retrieved from https://covid-vaccine.canada.ca/info/pdf/pfizer-biontech-covid-19-vaccine-pm1-en.pdf

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