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Vaccines for COVID-19

Five COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized for use in Canada. Immunizations have begun in B.C. in priority populations.
Last updated: March 19, 2021

Vaccines help protect you from getting sick by working with the body's immune system. Vaccines help your body develop protection so you do not get sick. Most vaccines are given by injection and sometimes need more than one dose.

COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in Canada

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. 

mRNA vaccines

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. 

Viral vector-based vaccines

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 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 which will recognize and fight future infections. 

Benefits of getting vaccinated

The vaccine will help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in B.C. Vaccines save lives by preventing disease, especially for people most likely to have severe illness or die. If enough people get vaccinated, it makes it difficult for the disease to spread. 

This gives protection to not only the people who got the vaccine but can also protect those who cannot be immunized – this is called ‘herd immunity’. As more Canadians get vaccinated, we can return to activities that haven’t been possible during the pandemic.  

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More vaccines in development

Worldwide, there are many vaccines in development and about 60 in clinical trials. They will not all get to the clinical trial stage or be approved for use. Learn more on what you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine for Canada.

Federal authorities are ordering COVID-19 vaccines for all people who live in Canada. Canada has agreements with seven pharmaceutical companies to secure sufficient doses. This includes Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson, and Medicago.

SOURCE: Vaccines for COVID-19 ( )
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