Vaccines for Covid-19: How to get vaccinated

eAwaz Medicine

Ottawa – It’s important to stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations to reduce the risks of severe illness and death from COVID-19. You can do this by getting your first vaccine doses (primary series) and staying vaccinated with booster doses.

Vaccine protection can decrease over time. If it’s been 6 months or more since your last vaccine dose or COVID-19 infection, get another dose by contacting your province or territory.

COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada are widely available and free of charge.

Book a vaccination appointment

Find out if you need another COVID-19 vaccine dose. Book an appointment through your province or territory:

Bivalent vaccines

The virus that causes COVID-19 has evolved over time and some of these changes have created new variants of concern.

Manufacturers have updated their vaccines to provide better protection against these variants.

The updated vaccines are called “bivalent” because they target 2 strains of COVID-19 virus: the original strain and an Omicron strain.

Original COVID-19 vaccines and bivalent vaccines are both very effective in protecting against severe illness and outcomes from COVID-19.

Bivalent vaccines are only approved for use as a booster dose. They are recommended for fall 2022 boosters for people 12 years and older.

You can check with your province or territory to see what vaccines are recommended for you.

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Benefits of vaccination

Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to protect against COVID-19. All approved COVID-19 vaccines used in Canada continue to be very effective at protecting against severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

Getting vaccinated can also reduce the likelihood of developing symptoms of post COVID-19 condition. Post COVID-19 condition, also known as long COVID, is when people still experience symptoms of COVID-19 for weeks or months after their initial recovery.

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Primary series

Most COVID-19 vaccines begin with 2 doses. These initial doses are called a primary series.

The immune response to the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is not as strong or sustained as 2 doses. The second dose is essential for better, longer-lasting protection.

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Additional primary series dose for people who are immunocompromised

Book a booster appointment (second, third or fourth doses)

Contact your province or territory for a booster:

Booster doses

Doses of the COVID-19 vaccines received after the primary series are called booster doses. Booster doses restore protection from a primary series that may have decreased over time.

Booster doses increase your defences by activating your immune response to restore protection that may have decreased over time. They improve protection against severe outcomes and may also reduce the risk of post COVID-19 condition.

If it’s been 6 months or longer since your last vaccine dose or COVID-19 infection, get a booster dose by contacting your province or territory or health care provider.

Whether it’s a booster dose or a primary series, you may be offered a different COVID-19 vaccine than the one you received previously. It’s safe and effective to do so. Talk to a health care provider about which COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for you.

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Vaccination after previous infection

It’s safe to receive a COVID-19 vaccine following infection. Vaccination is very important, even if you’ve had COVID-19. While infection alone provides some protection, vaccination after infection:

  • helps improve the immune response
  • provides better and longer-lasting protection

Evidence indicates that waiting a period of time after a COVID-19 infection before getting a booster dose can help improve the immune response. It’s recommended that you receive your booster dose 6 months after you tested positive or started having symptoms. A shorter interval of at least 3 months may be recommended in some circumstances.

Timing of vaccination

If it has been 6 months or longer since your last vaccine dose or COVID-19 infection, get your booster to stay up to date on your vaccinations. In some situations, provinces and territories may offer you a booster as soon as 3 months after your last dose.

Provinces and territories design and deliver their own vaccination programs. When making decisions about their programs, they consider the needs and circumstances, including COVID-19 activity, of their region. As a result, vaccination recommendations and timing on what vaccines are being offered may differ by region.

If you have questions about the timing of your COVID-19 vaccine doses following a COVID-19 infection, contact your province or territory.

COVID-19 booster dose: Contact your province or territory

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When to consult with a health care provider

If you have questions about getting your vaccine, consult with a health care provider. General considerations include if you:

  • have questions or concerns about COVID-19 vaccination
  • are unsure if or when you should receive a COVID-19 vaccine
  • have received a COVID-19 vaccine not approved by Health Canada
  • are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19