What you need to know about the COVID-19 Vaccine
What is this vaccine?
• Health Canada has authorized two vaccines to protect individuals against the COVID-19 virus:
o Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for use in Canada on December 9, 2020.
o Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for use in Canada on December 23, 2020
Who can get the vaccine
COVID-19 vaccines are authorized in individuals 16 years of age and older (Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine) and in individuals 18 years of age and older (Moderna COVID-19 vaccine).
These vaccines should not be administered to:
• Individuals who have ever had a severe allergic reaction (i.e. anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of an mRNA vaccine or to any of its components (including polyethylene glycol, see below) or its container, should not get either mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. o Consult the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine monograph for further ingredient details
o Consult the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine monograph for further ingredient details
o It is important to review the ingredients carefully as some people may be allergic to these ingredients, including polyethylene glycol. Polyethylene glycol can rarely cause allergic reactions and is found in some products such as medications, bowel preparation products for colonscopy, laxatives, cough syrups, cosmetics, skin creams, medical products used on the skin and during operations, toothpaste, contact lenses and contact lens solution. Polyethylene glycol can also be found in food or drinks, but is not known to cause allergic reactions from foods or drinks. Due to potential cross-reactive hypersensitivity with the vaccine ingredient polyethylene glycol, those with a suspected hypersensitivity or who have had an immediate allergic reaction to polysorbate should speak to their health care provider before vaccination.
• Anyone who has symptoms that could be due to COVID-19; these patients should get a COVID-19 test.
• Acutely ill individuals; As a precautionary measure
• Individuals who have received another vaccine (not a COVID-19 vaccine) in the past 14 days.
Considerations for other patient groups
Guidance for special populations, including for example breastfeeding or pregnant individuals, individuals with allergies, individuals with autoimmune conditions, or individuals who are immunocompromised due to disease or treatment, is available in the Vaccination Recommendations for Special Populations guidance document, including if additional documentation is required for vaccination.
The COVID-19 vaccine is not currently being offered to the following groups who were excluded from the clinical trials until further evidence is available. More data may be available in the near future:
• Children. Clinical trials to determine safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in children are forthcoming.
Precautions during vaccination should be taken for:
• Patients who have a bleeding problem, bruise easily or use a blood-thinning medicine should receive the vaccine. Individuals receiving long-term anticoagulation with either warfarin or heparin are not considered to be at higher risk of bleeding complications following immunization and may be safely immunized through the IM route as recommended, without discontinuation of their anticoagulation therapy.
• Individuals with a history of severe allergic reactions (i.e. anaphylaxis) not related to vaccines or injectable medications—such as allergies to food, pet, venom, environmental, or latex, etc. should be offered the COVID-19 vaccines. o An extended period of observation post-vaccination of 30 minutes is recommended for these groups
o For more detailed recommendations on people with allergies, please consult Vaccination Recommendations for Special Populations guidance document
How many doses of the vaccine do I need?
All individuals need 2 doses of the vaccine. You must get the same vaccine for your first and second dose.
• Those receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will need their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine 21 days after their first dose.
• Those receiving the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine will need their second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine 28 days after their first dose.
How is the vaccine given?
The vaccine will be administered through an intramuscular injection into the upper arm (into the deltoid muscle).
Are there any side effects associated with the vaccine?
Like all medicines and other vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines can cause side effects. Those observed during the clinical trials were commonly reported side effects of vaccines and do not pose a risk to health.
• The most frequent adverse reactions were usually mild or moderate in intensity and resolved within a few days after vaccination.
• No major safety concerns were reported in the data submitted to Health Canada.
You should monitor for potential side effects (see below) after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
• Pain at injection site, redness, swelling
• Muscle pain or joint pain
• Swollen glands
• Nausea/ vomiting
• Enlarged lymph nodes (swollen glands) in your underarm
You will receive a note from the clinic at the time of your vaccination called the After Care Sheet that tells you what to expect after vaccination