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COVID-19 vaccination at a glance

Last updated: January 25, 2021


What is the COVID-19 vaccine? 

  • Vaccines are products that produce immunity to a specific disease like COVID-19. When you are immune to COVID-19 that means you can be exposed to it without becoming sick or if you do become infected, it prevents more severe illness.
  • Vaccines save lives. Vaccines don't just protect the people getting vaccinated; they protect everyone around them too. The more people in a community who are vaccinated and therefore protected from COVID-19, the harder it is for it to spread.
  • The first COVID-19 vaccines to be approved in Canada are the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines.
  • These vaccines work by delivering the genetic instructions from the virus that causes COVID-19 to our own cells so we produce the spike protein of the virus; this protein then stimulates our own body’s immune response. Several types of vaccines are being developed. Other vaccines contain parts of the protein itself or use inactivated virus to stimulate the immune response.

When will I be able to get the vaccine?

  • B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan will happen in four phases. The focus at first is to protect those most vulnerable to severe illness.
  • This is happening from now until the end of March as vaccines are being delivered regularly throughout the province of B.C. 
  • After phase 1 and 2, immunization begins in the general population. Vaccines will primarily be distributed by age, starting with the oldest. People with certain underlying conditions will also be included. 
  • Everyone who would like a vaccine and who is eligible to receive one will have the opportunity to be vaccinated. Learn about the four phases of the COVID-19 Immunization Program.
  • You can also find information about vaccine eligibility here.

Where can I get information on signing up for vaccination?  

Before phase 3 in April, details will be available about
  • When and how to pre-register.  You will be able to register online or by phone.
    • By pre-registering, you will be able to reserve an appointment at a clinic.
    • Locations for immunization clinics. We expect to have clinics in more than 170 communities across B.C. in
      • School gymnasiums
      • Arenas
      • Convention and community halls.
      • Mobile options and home visits for those who are homebound.

What do I need to know before I get a vaccine and what are the side effects? 

Nearly everyone will be able to safely receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is given by injection into the muscle of the arm. It is important to get two doses for long-term protection. 

It is not unusual to experience some side effects after you get the vaccine. Side effects are typically mild to moderate and usually go away on their own.


When should I get my second dose?

The recommended time between the two vaccine doses is 21 to 28 days. For best protection, you should not get a second dose sooner than that. In B.C., while vaccine supplies are limited, the time between first and second dose will be extended so more people can receive their first dose, maximizing the benefit of limited vaccine supplies. Learn more about the second dose.

Immunization record

You will have the option to receive a paper and digital copy of your immunization record card. By registering for Health Gateway, you will be able to access your digital immunization record card.

Your immunization record will be also be stored in the online provincial database, accessible to you, public health and your doctor.

Should I wait a while to make sure it’s safe?

It’s up to you whether you want a COVID-19 vaccination. Feeling worried or hesitant is completely normal when something is new, however we can be reassured that Health Canada has a thorough approval process that ensures the safety of the many vaccines and medicines we take routinely. This rigorous process will be used before any vaccines are approved for use in Canada.

  • Several vaccines being developed use the same technology as vaccines that have already been used successfully for other diseases. Approval is happening quickly because Health Canada shortened the administrative and organisational process. The safety approvals have not changed. The requirements for safety data in the clinical trials are as stringent as the regular processes.
  • There’s always a small chance of side effects, no matter the drug or vaccine you’re taking. Serious side effects are assessed in clinical trials. Thousands of people have already taken the vaccine through these trials. Once the vaccine is approved and begins to be used in a larger population, surveillance and evaluation continues to identify any events that are less frequent. This is true of all vaccines. The province monitors the adverse events following immunization through the immunization surveillance system and reports to the national and global safety surveillance systems. Health Canada also monitors vaccines continuously after roll-out.

You are likely talking about vaccination with your friends and family. You may have heard stories about people having a reaction or adverse event after getting a vaccine. While sometimes these things can happen after vaccination, it is rarely because of the vaccine. Getting vaccinated is important. Given the serious health consequences of COVID-19, the low likelihood of a serious reaction to a vaccine is outweighed by the benefits to you and your loved ones.

Where can I find more questions and answers about the COVID-19 vaccine?

Visit the ImmunizeBC website to find frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccination




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