COVID-19 immunization will be carefully documented. British Columbia will closely monitor vaccine safety, uptake and effectiveness.
Last Updated: July 2, 2021
- Find the number of COVID-19 vaccine first and second doses administered in B.C. on the British Columbia COVID-19 Dashboard. Refer to the “Vaccine Information” tab on the bottom to see the number of doses administered (i.e. injected) and the number of doses distributed (i.e. shipped to BC).
- COVID-19 vaccination coverage is the percentage of people who have received one or more doses of COVID-19 vaccine in relation to the overall population.
- Find vaccination coverage the regional level, by local health area (LHA) and by community health service area (CHSA) on the B.C. Surveillance Dashboard.
All vaccines approved in Canada and available in B.C. are safe and effective and will help protect you against COVID-19. In clinical trials, those who had received a vaccine were significantly less likely to become sick with COVID-19, to end up in hospital, or to die from COVID-19.
While some people may still get COVID-19 after they have been vaccinated, all vaccines have been shown to have a high level of protection against serious illness and death, and in those cases, the infection would typically be significantly less severe.
COVID-19 is a relatively new disease. We are still learning how our immune system responds to it. We are also learning how long immunity lasts after getting COVID-19 or getting immunized.
Even after immunization being immunized, it continues to be very important to wash your hands, physically distance, wear a mask, stay home when sick and follow public health guidelines. These methods of protection are still essential as our vaccine program rolls out.
Research findings in British Columbia show that a single dose of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine reduced the risk of getting sick from COVID-19:
- Risk reduced by two-thirds in adults 70 years of age and older during the peak of the spring 2021 wave in B.C. when Alpha (B.1.1.7) and Gamma (P.1) variants made up 70% of circulating strains. Learn more about the results
- Risk reduced by 80% in long-term care residents and health care workers, the first people to be vaccinated in B.C. There was also a reduction in hospitalizations and deaths among vaccinated long-term care residents. Learn more about the results.
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Vaccines begin to work a couple of weeks after vaccination.
The findings from B.C. are comparable to vaccine effectiveness results released in other parts of the world. Together, the studies reinforce the substantial protection afforded by even a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Getting two doses remains very important for long-term protection.
In B.C., vaccine supplies were initially very limited, and the time between the first and second dose was extended to up to 16 weeks so more people could receive their first dose. This was done to save lives and prevent hospitalizations and deaths. Learn more about this decision.
Vaccine efficacy and vaccine effectiveness are both measures of protection against a disease. They tell us how less likely a vaccinated person is to get a particular disease compared to a non-vaccinated person.
Vaccine efficacy is calculated using data from vaccine clinical trials.
Vaccine effectiveness is calculated using real-world experience and data once a vaccine is approved and in use. It takes into account more real-world complexities and is more representative of all people and a diversity of situations and challenges.
We often hear the different COVID-19 vaccine efficacies being compared to one another, but this is not always a meaningful comparison and we need to be very cautious when we try to compare them. COVID-19 vaccine efficacies were determined through different vaccine clinical trials, but these clinical trials were not done under the same circumstances or at the same time. Factors that can impact clinical trial results include:
Variants: There are several prominent COVID-19 variants across the globe. A few of these variants have been shown to be more infectious than the original strain of COVID-19. Some COVID-19 vaccine trials were done at times and in places where there weren’t many (or any) variants, whereas other trials were done when there were large numbers of COVID-19 making it easier to catch COVID-19.
Timing: Primary COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials were done at different times throughout 2020. During some clinical trials, it may have been easier to get COVID-19 because transmission rates were higher at that time, or the trials may have studied different virus variants that were circulating in different parts of the world.
Location: COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials were done in different countries. Some countries have experienced far more cases of COVID-19 than others, meaning transmission rates were higher in certain places during clinical trials.
Effectiveness tells the story of how vaccines are performing in the real world outside of trials. All vaccines approved in Canada and available in BC are safe and effective and will help protect you against COVID-19. While some people may still get COVID-19 after they have been vaccinated, all vaccines have been shown to have a high level of protection against serious COVID-19 illness and death.
As we monitor the impact of the vaccines in our communities and province, we can start to see the impact a couple of weeks after vaccination. The first people to be vaccinated in B.C. were long term care and assisted living residents and health care workers. Within two to three weeks of receiving their first dose of vaccine, there was a pronounced drop in the number of cases among vaccinated individuals, a reduction in the number of outbreaks in these facilities, and a reduction in hospitalizations and deaths among vaccinated long term care residents.