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Getting a Vaccine

Everyone 6 months of age and older is eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Find out how to register and what to expect when you get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Last updated: August 9, 2023

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On this page

  1. Initial series
  2. Additional COVID-19 vaccine doses
  3. What to expect at the vaccination clinic
  4. After your vaccination
  5. 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. Additional doses are recommended for everyone 5 years and older.

Initial series

You need at least two doses to complete your initial series for most vaccines in B.C. Some people need a third dose in their initial series for better protection against severe illness.

To get vaccinated, register yourself or your child with the Get Vaccinated system. 

Once registered, you will receive an invitation to book an appointment. .


  •  Online at, available in 12 different languages
  • By telephone (toll-free) at 1-833-838-2323, 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. 


Learn more about how to get vaccinated.


After you register in the Get Vaccinated system and get your invitation, you can book an appointment through the online system. You can select a date and time at a community pharmacy or vaccination clinic near you. When you’re eligible for your next dose, you will receive another invitation to book an appointment.

If needed, you can easily reschedule your appointment online.


The COVID-19 vaccines available for your first and second doses include:

  • Pfizer Comirnaty mRNA vaccine
  • Moderna Spikevax mRNA vaccine

The Pfizer vaccine is given as a 3-dose series to children 6 months to 4 years of age.

You can request the Novavax vaccine if you are unable or unwilling to get a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine and you are 12 years of age and older. The Novavax vaccine is a protein subunit vaccine. It will be available later this summer.

The vaccine you get is based on a variety of factors including your age, allergies to vaccine ingredients, where you're getting your vaccine, and availability of the products.

There are no safety concerns with mixing vaccine brands or types. 

The second dose of vaccine should be provided 8 weeks after the first dose, as recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).  


Even if you are unable to receive your second dose at the recommended time, it is still important to receive your second dose.

People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised, including children, should receive a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Children 6 months to 4 years of age who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and who receive the Pfizer vaccine are recommended 4 doses as part of their initial series.

A third dose is for people with compromised immune systems who don't develop a strong enough immune response with two doses and need a third dose to be better protected against COVID-19.

If you are someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) and received a three-dose initial COVID-19 vaccine series, you can get an updated COVID-19 vaccine when the next vaccination campaign launches this fall if you meet the age eligibility and it has been at least 6 months since your last dose. 


Call 1-833-838-2323 if you are eligible and have not yet received an invitation to book one.


There is information available about planning your vaccine for people who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable.

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Additional doses

Get an updated COVID-19 vaccine when the next vaccination campaign launches this fall. Additional doses help maintain your level of protection against severe illness from a COVID-19 infection. 

B.C.’s fall vaccination campaign will be based on the latest recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). NACI currently recommends that most people get their next vaccine dose in fall 2023, when updated vaccines will be available that help to protect against the latest variants. 

NACI recommends you wait at least 6 months after your last dose to get another dose. People who are considering getting an additional dose during the summer of 2023 should know that this will likely delay their receipt of the fall 2023 COVID-19 vaccine.

More information about a fall COVID-19 vaccine will be available in the coming months.

Make sure you are registered with the Get Vaccinated system.


Once you are eligible, you will receive an invitation to book an appointment for your next dose. 

People living in long-term care will get their additional dose from a health care worker who visits them. 

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


Learn more about booking an appointment for an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends getting an additional dose of COVID-19 mRNA vaccine at least 6 months after completing the initial vaccine series or your last dose for people 5 years and older.

Everyone 5 and older is eligible to get an additional dose of a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine. Most people who have already received a bivalent dose are still protected and do not need another dose at this time.  
If you received an invitation to get vaccinated this spring, you can still book an appointment. It is important to know that this will likely delay your next dose (i.e., fall 2023 COVID-19 vaccine) as the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends you wait at least 6 months between additional doses for better protection. 

Information about a fall 2023 COVID-19 vaccination will be available in the coming months.

‎This approach follows recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) to ensure the people who need it most will be protected.

The risk of hospital admission due to COVID-19 increases with age. An additional dose helps older adults and people with compromised immune systems get stronger protection. 

People who have had COVID-19 and are vaccinated with 2 or more doses have ‘hybrid immunity’. This gives you strong protection against hospitalization and death. Most younger people have hybrid immunity, while many older adults are protected by vaccination only. This is why an additional dose can help older adults who have not yet 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.
If you've recently had a positive COVID-19 test result, the likelihood of reinfection is low in this time after infection.  You can wait up to 6 months for a booster dose If you recently had COVID-19. The immune response is better when there is more time between infection and vaccination.

What to expect at the vaccination clinic

If you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19, stay home and wait until you feel better to get your vaccine. 

If you have a temporary physical illness (like an injury) that prevents you from doing your regular activities, you can also 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.
You can access your digital immunization card by registering with the Health Gateway. Your immunization record will also be stored in the provincial database, accessible to you, public health, and your doctor.

Whattoexpect.PNGDepending on the vaccination centre 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. 

You can access your immunization record online or request a printed copy by phone or at a Service BC office. 

  • 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 more from the Vaccination Aftercare handout.

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.

For more information, please see our Vaccine Safety page.

Click the images below to open and learn what to expect after you get a COVID-19 vaccine.

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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.  You may you may need to receive vaccinations here.

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SOURCE: Getting a Vaccine ( )
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