COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID-19

Last Updated: January 25, 2021

Vaccines are a critical way to limit the spread of COVID-19. They are effective and safe. Immunization protects your health, as well as the health of your loved ones and the community.

Frequently Asked Questions

Eligibility|Booking an Appointment|Getting a Vaccine|Vaccine Safety| How the Vaccine Works| After Immunization|Planning & Distribution| Other Questions

Eligibility

Q: When will the COVID-19 vaccine be available to the general public?

A: Fall 2021 (Phase 3) is the current estimate.

Q: Can I join a waitlist to be prioritized?

A: No - Alberta does not have a waitlist.

We know many people are anxious to be immunized for COVID-19, including those who are considered higher-risk or have other underlying health conditions.

Continue to follow all public health guidelines to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

More information will be shared as it becomes available. Please do not call Health Link about eligibility.

Q: What is the rollout plan for the vaccine?

A: Alberta Health, with input from Alberta Health Services, has identified the key populations to be included in the province's phased immunization program.

Exact amounts and timelines are subject to change. The approach will be amended as needed depending on vaccine supply.

Early Phase 1: December 2020

  • Focus on acute care sites with the highest COVID-19 capacity concerns:
    • Healthcare workers in intensive care units
    • Respiratory therapists
    • Staff in long term care (LTC) and designated supportive living (DSL) facilities

Phase 1A: January 2021

  • Respiratory therapists
  • Healthcare workers in intensive care units
  • Staff in LTC and DSL facilities
  • Home care workers
  • Healthcare workers in emergency departments
  • All residents of LTC and DSL facilities, regardless of age
  • Healthcare workers in COVID-19 units, medical and surgical units and operating rooms
  • Paramedics and emergency medical responders

Phase 1B: February 2021 (timeline subject to change depending on vaccine supply)

  • Seniors 75 years of age and over, no matter where they live
  • First Nations, Métis and persons 65 years of age and over living in a First Nations community or Metis Settlement

Phase 2: April to September 2021

  • Work to identify sequencing for Phase 2 groups is underway. Decisions will be made in the coming weeks.

Phase 3: Fall 2021

  • Anticipated start of roll-out to the general public

Q: What criteria are used to determine which healthcare workers receive COVID-19 vaccine first?

A: Working within the immunization allocation parameters outlined by Alberta Health, AHS identified several groups of healthcare workers to be included in the initial phase of roll out. These groups were selected to support acute care capacity and to protect populations at highest risk of severe outcomes.

See Vaccine Sequencing for Healthcare Workers for more information. A pdf version is also available to print and share with your teams.

Q: Will the COVID-19 vaccines be available for children?

A: Vaccines in Phases 1 and 2 will only be authorized for people 16 years and older (Pfizer- BioNTech) or 18 years of age and older (Moderna) and will require two doses per person for optimal immunity to COVID-19.

Booking a COVID-19 Immunization Appointment

Refer to Top COVID-19 Vaccine Sequencing Questions for more information on:

  • Appointment postponements & rescheduling
  • Receiving the second dose
  • Second dose window
  • Healthcare worker eligibility

Q: How will I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

A: Eligible healthcare workers receive a direct email from AHS with a unique link to go online and book their immunization appointment.

However, in order for AHS to respond to the recently announced reductions in Pfizer- BioNTech vaccine in the upcoming weeks, adjustments are being made to the COVID-19 vaccine implementation plan.

Effective Jan. 20, all first dose appointments for staff and physicians are postponed. All second dose appointments for staff and physicians starting Jan. 25 are being rescheduled to 38 – 42 days after the first dose was administered.

Anyone whose appointment is being postponed or rescheduled will be contacted directly by AHS via email, text or phone call.

Please continue to check back to the online tool as more appointments open up. Please do not call Health Link.

See Top COVID-19 Vaccine Sequencing Questions for more information.

Visit the FAQ page if you have questions about the online booking process.

Q: I am eligible but have not yet been contacted. What can I do?

A: If you are a healthcare worker and have any questions about your eligibility, see the Top COVID-19 Vaccine Sequencing Questions for more information. You may also contact your supervisor or medical leader. Please do not call Health Link.

Members of the general public are not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Please continue to visit this page for updates and continue to follow all public health guidelines to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Getting a Vaccine

Refer to COVID-19 Vaccine on MyHealthAlberta for information on:

  • Who Should Get the Vaccine
  • How Many Doses You Need
  • How Well the Vaccine Works
  • Side Effects
  • Info for Those Who:
    • Are Pregnant or Breastfeeding
    • Have a Weak Immune System
    • Have an Autoimmune Disorder
  • Who Should Not Get the Vaccine

Q: What if I am allergic to ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccine?

A: It’s possible that someone may have an allergic reaction after receiving COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals with known allergies to any of the components of the vaccine should not receive it.

The components of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine include:

  • Medicinal ingredient:
    • Tozinameran (mRNA encoding the Spike protein for the SARS-CoV-2 virus)
  • Non-medicinal ingredients:
    • ALC-0315 = (4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate)
    • ALC-0159 = 2-[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide
    • 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine
    • cholesterol
    • dibasic sodium phosphate dehydrate
    • monobasic potassium phosphate
    • potassium chloride
    • sodium chloride

The components of the Moderna vaccine include:

  • Medicinal ingredient:
    • mRNA
  • Non-medicinal ingredients:
    • 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DSPC)
    • acetic acid
    • cholesterol
    • lipid SM-102
    • polyethylene glycol (PEG) 2000 DMG
    • sodium acetate
    • sucrose
    • tromethamine
    • tromethamine hydrochloride
    • water for injection

Q: I’ve recovered from COVID-19, should I still get the COVID-19 vaccine?

A: Yes, you should still be immunized. There is no mandatory waiting period between having COVID-19 disease and being immunized; however, it is recommended that people wait until they are feeling better.

Q: Should I leave a gap between getting the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine?

A: Everyone should get immunized against influenza each year. Having both illnesses at once can be dangerous. It is recommended that individuals wait at least 28 days after the administration of the two-dose COVID-19 vaccine to get another vaccine, including the flu shot. It is also recommended to wait for a period of at least 14 days after the administration of another vaccine, including the flu shot, before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

After Immunization

Refer to COVID-19 Vaccine on MyHealthAlberta for information on:

Q: I recently received the COVID-19 vaccine, but a few days later I developed symptoms and then tested positive for COVID-19. Why did this happen

A: None of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in use in Canada contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.

After COVID-19 immunization, it takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity so that you are protected from the virus. Therefore, you can still get infected with COVID-19 just before or just after being immunized, and become sick after your immunization occurred.

The COVID-19 vaccines are not 100 per cent effective. Although immunization will greatly reduce your risk of becoming infected with COVID-19, there is still a small chance that you can become infected even after being immunized.

Q: I recently received the COVID-19 vaccine and a few days later I was tested for COVID-19 and the result was positive, even though I had no symptoms. Did the vaccine cause a false positive test?

A: None of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in use in Canada will cause you to test positive on a COVID-19 test.

There are two types of tests that are used to diagnose COVID-19, an antigen test and a PCR test. Neither test will detect the material in the current COVID-19 vaccines or the body’s response to the immunization.

If you are asymptomatic and test positive for COVID-19 after being immunized, then this positive test is the result of current or recent COVID-19 infection. After COVID-19 immunization, it takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity so that you are protected from the virus. Immunization will greatly reduce your risk of becoming infected but there is still a small chance that you can become infected even after being fully immunized.

Planning & Distribution

Q: Who is responsible for vaccine planning?

A: Alberta has a robust system already in place to provide access to vaccines for routine immunization programs, including seasonal influenza campaigns and outbreak response activities. The Federal Government is responsible for supplying the COVID-19 vaccine while Alberta Health is responsible for vaccine policy setting and allocation of the vaccine. Alberta Health Services is responsible for administering the COVID-19 vaccine as part of the provincial immunization program.

Q: Which COVID-19 vaccines are approved for use in Canada?

A: To date, two products are approved by Health Canada:

Q: When did COVID-19 vaccine first arrive in Alberta?

A: Alberta began receiving vaccine doses in December 2020 for limited distribution.

Q: When will more COVID-19 vaccine arrive?

A: It will take several months for our province to receive enough vaccine for everyone to be immunized. That is why Alberta Health and AHS are being very thoughtful and strategic around who will be eligible to receive vaccine as it becomes available in our province.

COVID-19 vaccination planning continues to develop rapidly; we will keep our staff, stakeholders and the public up-to-date as more information becomes available.

Q: Will I have to pay for the vaccine?

A: No, the COVID-19 vaccine is free and is being offered to key populations identified in the province's phased immunization program.

Q: Why is Alberta distributing COVID-19 vaccine in a different way compared to other provinces?

A: Decisions around immunization sequencing are being made very thoughtfully and carefully. There are many factors to consider, including vaccine supply and specifically in our province at the current time, the need to support acute care capacity. We need to protect populations at highest risk of severe outcomes. For more information, see Vaccine Sequencing for Healthcare Workers.

Vaccine Safety

Check out Immunize Alberta for Common Questions about Vaccine Safety.

Q: What goes into making sure vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccines, are safe and effective?

A: Canada is recognized around the world for high standards for vaccine review, approvals, and monitoring systems. Only vaccines that are safe and effective will be approved for use in Canada. After a vaccine is approved for use, evidence on safety and effectiveness is reviewed by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization who provide recommendations on immunizations for individuals and for public health programs.

How the Vaccine Works

Q: How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

A: Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. These vaccines contain the genetic instructions for making a protein that is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. It uses our cells to make this protein and triggers our immune system to make antibodies against it. Then, if the real virus enters our body in the future, these antibodies will help fight the infection.

Q: Can the COVID-19 vaccine give me a coronavirus infection?

A: None of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in use in Canada contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. The vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.

Q: Will mRNA change my DNA?

A: No. Injecting mRNA into a person does not change the DNA of a human cell.

Other Questions

Q: Do healthcare workers need to wear gloves when administering a vaccine?

A: Vaccine providers are not required to wear gloves when administering vaccine. Infection prevention and control practices are part of immunization procedures. They include hand hygiene (handwashing or use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer) before vaccine preparation, between vaccine recipients, and whenever the hands are soiled. The Canadian Immunization Guide does not routinely recommended gloves unless the skin on the vaccine provider’s hands is not intact (cuts, blisters etc).

Q: Why is immunization important?

A: Although some individuals are at greater risk for severe complications, without immunization, we have seen that even healthy Albertans are at risk of severe illness and even death from this virus.

Vaccines make your immune system stronger. They build antibodies to help prevent diseases. Immunization is safe. It is much safer to get immunized than to get COVID-19 disease.

With the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine in Alberta, we have the opportunity to slow the spread of the virus, and ensure our most vulnerable and at-risk populations are protected from COVID-19. The vaccine will also help reduce the strain on our healthcare system and allow elective surgeries, and other postponed services to continue.

We all must do our part to protect one another. Immunization is the single most effective means of protecting yourself, your loved ones and the greater community from COVID-19.

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Additional Information

AHS Staff & Health Professionals