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Getting a Vaccine

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

Last updated: May 15, 2023

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On this page

  1. Initial series
  2. Booster 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. Booster 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 for your first or second dose. You will get an invitation to book your second dose appointment about 8 weeks after your first dose. The Pfizer vaccine is given as a 3-dose series to children 6 months to 4 years of age.


  •  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 offices.

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. For second doses, you will receive an invitation to book around 8 weeks after your first dose. You can select a location, date and time.


Find COVID-19 vaccination clinics in your health authority:


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

  • Pfizer Comirnaty mRNA vaccine
  • Moderna Spikevax mRNA vaccine
  • Novavax protein subunit vaccine 
  • Janssen viral vector vaccine (for people 18 years and older)

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

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.

Both mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, are available at pharmacies and vaccination clinics.

Although the mRNA vaccines are recommended, you can request the Janssen or Novavax vaccine. Select the non-mRNA vaccine option when you book your appointment online.

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 will get 4 doses as part of their initial series.

A third dose in an initial series is different than a booster dose.

  • Booster doses help maintain and lengthen your level of protection against severe illness as immunity decreases over time.

  • 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 are eligible for a booster dose 6 months after your third dose of COVID-19 vaccine.


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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Booster doses

Booster doses help maintain your level of protection against severe illness from a COVID-19 infection. Everyone 5 years and older can get a booster dose.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends getting an mRNA booster dose at least 6 months after completing the initial vaccine series for people 5 years and older.


If you got the Janssen vaccine, you can get a booster two months after your vaccine.


Even if you've had COVID-19, you still need a booster as vaccines provide more reliable protection. You can wait 6 months after a positive COVID-19 test to get your booster dose.  See Who can get a spring booster (below).

Everyone 5 and older can get COVID-19 mRNA bivalent vaccine for their  booster. The bivalent mRNA vaccine is the most updated vaccine that also targets the Omicron variant. Bivalent vaccines provide the best protection against COVID-19 and its variants.


If you have not yet received a bivalent booster and you are 12 years of age or older, you can get one 6 months after your last dose of vaccine. You can check your vaccine records online through Health Gateway or by calling 1-833-838-2323.


Most people who have already received a bivalent dose are still protected and do not need another dose at this time. Some people can get an additional booster dose this spring 2023.


If you're 18 years or older and would prefer a non-mRNA vaccine, you can get the Novavax vaccine or Janssen vaccine

B.C. is offering a spring booster dose to people most at risk of severe illness, based on recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

People who should get a spring booster include:
  • People in long-term care or waiting for admission. 
  • Older adults and elders:
    • 80 years and older
    • 70 years and older and Indigenous
  • Adults (18+) who are moderately to severely immunocompromised. 
  • Adults (50+) with certain underlying health conditions.
Invitations to book an appointment from the Get Vaccinated system have been going out since April to people who received their last dose 6 months ago.

In addition, the following people who have not had COVID-19 and at least 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine may consider getting a spring booster: 
  • 60 years and older
  • 50 years and older and Indigenous
  • 18-49 years of age with certain underlying health conditions 
People who have had COVID-19 and are vaccinated with at least 2 doses have ‘hybrid immunity’. If you are in one of the groups above and have already had COVID-19, you have strong protection against hospitalization and death and likely do not need a dose yet. However, if you wish to get a spring booster dose now, talk to a health care provider or call the Get Vaccinated call centre at  1-833-838-2323.

If you are not listed above and you received a booster during the fall of 2022, you still have good protection against severe illness and do not need another dose at this time. 

‎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. A booster dose will help older adults and people with compromised immune systems get stronger protection. Indigenous peoples have lower age eligibility as they may be disproportionately affected by COVID-19 because of longstanding inequities and the impacts of colonization.

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 a booster 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.

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 booster dose. 


You must be invited to book a booster dose appointment. You can't drop-in at a clinic or call a pharmacy to get a booster.

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

You can call 1-833-838-2323 if you are eligible for booster doses and have not yet received an invitation to book one.


Learn more about booking your booster dose appointment.

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. Try not to arrive hungry or thirsty, which could make you feel lightheaded or dizzy.
  • 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 bring one person with you to the vaccination centre for support.
You will have the option to receive a paper and digital copy of your record of vaccination. You can access your digital immunization card by registering with the Health Gateway. Your immunization record will also be stored in the online 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. You’ll be screened at the entry for COVID-19 symptoms.
  2. Your ID will be verified and you’ll be asked to wait for an available immunizer.
  3. For modesty, you can ask for a private location to get your vaccine.
  4. Once you are with an immunizer, they will ask you to give your consent to be vaccinated. 
  5. You will receive your vaccine. The immunizer will give you a piece of paper confirming which vaccine you received.
  6. You will be given an Aftercare Sheet to take home with you (posted below for download).
  7. 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.
  8. 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 electronic 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. 

If you experience any of these symptoms
  1. Seek medical attention right away
  2. Bring your COVID-19 immunization record
Pfizer or Moderna vaccine
Rare cases of heart inflammation have been reported. Monitor for any of the following 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.
AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD or Janssen vaccine

Rare cases of serious blood clots and/or bleeding have been reported. Monitor for any of the following symptoms for 4 to 28 days after your vaccine:

  • Severe headache that does not go away
  • Seizure
  • Difficulty moving parts of your body
  • Blurry vision that does not go away
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • New severe swelling, pain, or colour change of an arm or a leg
  • Abnormal bruising, reddish or purple spots or blood blisters under the skin, or bleeding beyond the site of vaccination.

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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