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Vaccines Available in B.C.

Learn about the vaccines being used in B.C. and how they work.
Last updated: September 12, 2022

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.
  • Vaccines authorized for use in Canada by Health Canada include:
    • Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty)
    • Moderna (Spikevax) and Moderna Spikevax Bivalent vaccine
    • Novavax 
    • Janssen (owned by Johnson & Johnson)
    • AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria)/COVISHIELD
    • Medicago
  • Several other vaccines are being developed.

About the Vaccines

mRNA Vaccines

Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for use on September 16, 2021. It was first authorized under an interim order on December 9, 2020.

  • The adult/adolescent formulation is for people aged 12 and older
  • It is a two-dose vaccine. An additional dose is recommended for some people with weakened immune systems.
  • A booster dose of an mRNA vaccine is recommended about 6 months after the last dose for people aged 12 and older.
  • Currently, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only booster dose approved for children aged 5 to 11.

Moderna Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for use on September 16, 2021. It was first authorized under an interim order on December 23, 2020.

  • The vaccine is available to people aged 12 and older
  • It is a two-dose vaccine. An additional dose is recommended for some people with weakened immune systems.
  • A booster dose of an mRNA vaccine is recommended about 6 after the last dose for people aged 18 and older.

Moderna Spikevax Bivalent COVID-19 vaccine was authorized by Health Canada as a booster for adults over 18 years of age on September 1, 2022.

Protein-based vaccine

The Novavax Nuvaxoid COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for use on February 17, 2022  
  • The vaccine is available to people age 18 and older.
  • It is a two dose vaccine. 
  • A limited number of doses are available in B.C.

Viral Vector-Based Vaccines

AstraZeneca Vaxzevria COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for use under an interim order on February 26, 2021. 

  • The vaccine is approved for people age 18 and older
  • It is a two dose vaccine. An additional dose of an mRNA vaccine is recommended for some people with weakened immune systems.
  • A booster dose of an mRNA vaccine is recommended about 6 months after the last dose for people age 18 and older.

Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine was authorized for use under an interim order on March 5, 2021. 

  • It is a viral vector vaccine approved for people age 18 and older. 

  • If you receive the Janssen vaccine, you only need a single dose to be considered fully vaccinated. 

  • A booster dose is recommended of an mRNA vaccine is recommended about 2 months after the single dose for people age 18 and older.

  • Availability in B.C. is limited and based on supply.

How COVID-19 vaccines work

Vaccines work by teaching your body's immune system to remember and recognize a virus. Your body can then defend you if you are exposed in the future. 

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines. These vaccines teach your body to make a piece of a protein from the COVID-19 virus using instructions from the virus, called mRNA. 

The instructions tell cells in your body how to make part of a harmless protein from the virus. Once the cells make the protein, the instructions are broken down. 

The cells display the pieces of protein they’ve created on the outside of your cell and your body recognizes that protein as foreign and develops an immune response. This response will recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19 if you are exposed later on. 

mRNA vaccines do not change or affect your own DNA. 

AstraZeneca, COVISHIELD, and Janssen (owned by Johnson & Johnson) vaccines are a type of vaccine called a viral vector vaccine.

These vaccines introduce instructions from the virus that causes COVID-19 using a non-COVID-19 virus that has been modified so as to be inactive and harmless. This is known as a vector. 

The vector only carries the instructions to make a specific protein from the COVID-19 virus. Similar to the mRNA virus, once the body creates that protein, it produces an immune response that will recognize and fight future infections. 

Ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccines

You may have questions about the ingredients in each available vaccine. The table below outlines each individual ingredient and a description of its purpose in the vaccine.  

mRNA vaccine ingredients

  • Pfizer-BioNTech (Click the image to expand)

Pfizer vaccine ingredients

  • Moderna (Click on the image to expand)

Moderna vaccine ingredients

Viral vector-based vaccine ingredients

  • AstraZeneca  (Click the image to expand)
  • Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) (Click the image to expand)

To learn more about vaccine ingredients, check out these links:

SOURCE: Vaccines Available in B.C. ( )
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