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Getting a Vaccine

Everyone 6 months of age and older can get the COVID-19 vaccine. Find out how to register and what to expect when you get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Last updated: July 5,  2024

On this page

  1. Your COVID-19 vaccine
  2. What to expect at your immunization appointment
  3. After your vaccination
  4. Register vaccines received outside of B.C.
Everyone 6 months of age and older living in British Columbia is eligible to get vaccinated. Vaccination is free

Your COVID-19 vaccine

Immunization is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself against severe illness from COVID-19. The vaccine remains free and available for everyone 6 months and older. 

COVID-19 vaccines are free and available for everyone 6 months and older in B.C. 

There will be a new formulation of COVID-19 vaccine for fall 2024. You will receive a notification when it is time to book your appointment. It is expected that the strain in the updated vaccines will be more closely related to circulating strains. 

Invitations for a dose of the spring 2024 COVID-19 vaccine ended on June 30. Anyone who feels they would benefit from a vaccine before the updated vaccine is available, including those that have never had a COVID-19 vaccine, can contact the call centre to book a vaccine appointment at 1-833-838-2323. This may delay when you are recommended to get your next dose this fall. It is recommended you wait 6 months between COVID-19 vaccine doses for best results. 

To get your invitation to book an immunization appointment, make sure you or your child are registered with the Get Vaccinated system. Once registered, you will receive an invitation to book an appointment.

  • Online:, available in 12 different languages
  • By phone: Call 1-833-838-2323 (toll-free), available in 140 different languages.
  • In-person: At all Service BC offices. You will need to have a Personal Health Number. Find a Service BC office.
If you don't have a Personal Health Number, you need to register by phone by calling 1-833-838-2323. A Personal Health Number will be created for you. 
Book an appointment
You will receive an invitation by email or text message to book a vaccine appointment. 

You can select a date and time at a community pharmacy or vaccination clinic near you. If needed, you can easily reschedule your appointment online.

You can call 1-833-838-2323 if you have questions.

If you need another COVID-19 vaccine in the future, you will receive another invitation to book an appointment when you are eligible.
The COVID-19 vaccines available are:
  • Moderna Spikevax mRNA vaccine
  • Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty mRNA vaccine
  • Novavax protein-based vaccine
The vaccines were updated in fall 2023 to target the XBB.1.5 variants. Updated vaccines targeting circulating strains will be available for fall 2024. 

If you're 12 or older and prefer a non-mRNA vaccine, select the non-mRNA vaccine option when you book your appointment online or phone the call centre.
Since fall 2023, everyone 6 months and older has been recommended to get at least one dose of the XBB.1.5 COVID-19 vaccine. 

Some may need additional doses depending on their age, medical conditions and vaccination history, such as:
  • Children aged 6 months to 4 years who have never had a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised who don't develop a strong enough immune response.  
Call 1-833-838-2323 if you are eligible and have not yet received an invitation to book an additional dose.
There are printable handouts available for download about COVID-19 vaccination available for people who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends getting the updated COVID-19 mRNA vaccine at least 6 months after your last dose of COVID-19 vaccine. 

This interval may be shorter depending on your age, medical conditions and COVID-19 vaccination history. 

There are no safety concerns with getting a different vaccine brand from your previous doses.
If you've recently had a positive COVID-19 test result, the chance of getting COVID-19 again is low in the months after infection. You can wait up to 3 to 6 months for your next vaccine dose. The immune response is better when there is more time between infection and vaccination.

How to know if you’ve had COVID-19
  • If you have ever had a positive COVID-19 test (PCR or rapid antigen test at home)
  • If you ever had symptoms of COVID-19 and someone else in your household tested positive around the same time.

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What to expect at your immunization appointment

If you are sick or have symptoms like cough or fever, stay home and wait until you feel better to get your vaccine. 
  • You can eat and drink right up to your appointment time. 
  • Bring your Personal Health Number if you have one. You can find your Personal Health Number on the back of your B.C. driver's licence, BC Services Card or CareCard. 
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing for easy access to the arm and shoulder. The vaccine is given by injection into the muscle on your shoulder.

Whattoexpect.PNGDepending on the pharmacy or clinic you visit, the steps once you arrive may vary. At most sites, the process will work like this:

  1. Your ID will be verified and you’ll be asked to wait for an available immunizer.
  2. For modesty, you can ask for a private location to get your vaccine.
  3. Once you are with an immunizer, they will ask you to give your consent to be vaccinated. 
  4. You will receive your vaccine. 
  5. You will be given an Aftercare Sheet to take home with you (posted below for download).
  6. You will be asked to wait for 15-30 minutes in a waiting area after you receive your vaccine to be monitored. About one in 1 million people will experience a severe allergic reaction. By staying in the clinic, a health care provider can respond in the event this happens. Tell a health care provider if you feel unwell after your vaccine.
  7. You can leave the vaccination centre.

Pain or fear associated with vaccinations can cause stress and anxiety.

When you get vaccinated, your information will be entered into the Provincial Immunization Registry and will be accessible to you, public health, and your doctor.

Access your immunization record

  • Online: Register for Health Gateway. You need a mobile BC services card to register. 
  • Phone: Call 1-833-838-2323 to request a mailed copy of your immunization record.

  • In person at a Service BC office: You can get a printed copy of your immunization record at all Service BC offices.

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Vaccination aftercare

Side effects are common a day or two after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. These can include:

  • Pain, redness, itchiness or swelling in the arm, where the vaccine was given (right away and/or 7 days after)
  • Swollen lymph nodes under the armpit
  • Tiredness or headache
  • Fever and chills 
  • Muscle or joint soreness 
  • Nausea and vomiting.
Children experience similar side effects as adults, though may experience some of them, like headache, chills and fever, more often.

Most side effects are not serious and should go away on their own. Some side effects are a sign that the vaccine is working and your immune system is building a response.

Tips for side effects

  • Apply a cool, damp cloth or wrapped ice pack to painful areas. 
  • Take medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) if you wish to ease discomfort. ASA (e.g. Aspirin) should not be given to anyone under 18 years of age. If you are pregnant, do not take ibuprofen; treat discomfort or fever with Tylenol instead.
Some of the side effects of the vaccine are similar to symptoms of COVID-19. The vaccine will not cause or give you COVID-19. 

Symptoms such as sore throat, runny nose, cough or problems breathing are NOT side effects of the vaccine. If you experience any symptoms of COVID-19, use the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool.

If you are worried about your symptoms, contact your health care provider or call 8-1-1.

Serious side effects after getting the vaccine are rare. Seek medical attention or call 9-1-1 right away if you develop any serious side effects or a severe allergic reaction including:

  • Hives
  • Swelling of the face, tongue or throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling of a rapid or abnormal heart rhythm.

When you see a healthcare provider, let them know that you received the COVID-19 vaccine recently so they can report the issue to local public health if they suspect your symptoms were related to the vaccine. 

Serious symptoms are extremely rare after the vaccine. Rare cases of heart inflammation have been reported. Watch for these symptom for 7 days after your vaccine:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling of a fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart that does not go away with rest or is accompanied by other symptoms.
If you experience any of these symptoms
  1. Seek medical attention right away
  2. Tell your healthcare provider you recently got a COVID-19 vaccine

Learn about Vaccination Aftercare

Please report any adverse events to your immunizer, healthcare provider, or doctor following your vaccination. Healthcare providers are trained to report these events to the correct channels to monitor vaccine safety. 

If you have questions about side effects or a possible reaction to the vaccine, contact HealthLink BC by calling 8-1-1.

Visit ImmunizeBC to find printable or downloadable handouts on vaccination aftercare for:

  • Infants and young children
  • School-age children and teens
  • Adults

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Register vaccines received outside of B.C.

If you received a COVID-19 vaccine in another province or territory, you must submit proof of an official vaccination record.  

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SOURCE: Getting a Vaccine ( )
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