Last Updated: January 23, 2023
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.
Eligibility|Additional Doses|Immunization & Travel|Immunization Records |Youths Under 18|Booking an Appointment|Why Get Immunized|Getting a Vaccine|Vaccine Safety| Vaccines & Fertility| How Vaccines Work| After Immunization|Planning & Distribution|Other
Q: Who is eligible to get the vaccine?
A: All Albertans six months of age and older are eligible.
How to book: see ahs.ca/covidvaccine.
Q: What COVID-19 vaccines are available in Alberta?
A: Pfizer-BioNTech – approved for age five and older
Moderna – approved for age 6 months and older
Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) – approved for age 18 and older
Novavax – approved for age 12 and older
Q: Are children eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccines?
A: The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for age five and older.
The Moderna vaccine is approved for children age six months to four years.
Q: Do I need to pay for the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: No, the COVID-19 vaccine is free.
Any offers to provide vaccination to the public for a fee are not legitimate and should be reported to your local law enforcement agency's anti-fraud/scam unit via the police non-emergency telephone line.
Q: Why are second booster doses recommended?
A: There is limited evidence on how long protection from a first booster dose persists, with studies suggesting some decrease over time. An additional dose will help protect older adults living in the community and residents of seniors congregate living settings who are at higher risk of experiencing severe outcomes from COVID-19. Data indicate that a second booster dose provides additional protection against severe disease.
Q: What are Bivalent vaccines?
A: As we learn more about COVID-19, different kinds of vaccines are being developed, including one that provides more robust protection against the Omicron strain. This new type of vaccine is known as a bivalent vaccine.
While work is still being done worldwide on this vaccine, research on the bivalent vaccine has demonstrated a better antibody response against Omicron infections when compared with the original vaccine.
All Albertans 18 years of age and over can book a booster dose with the bivalent vaccine at least 5 months after their second/previous dose. Appointments can be made online, by contacting a local pharmacy or community medical clinic, or by calling Health Link at 811.
Q: What is hybrid immunity?
A: Having vaccine protection (ideally two doses plus a booster) and recovering from infection, results in “hybrid immunity.”
Though there are only a handful of studies on this so far, the current consensus is that hybrid immunity is more protective than either vaccination or infection alone.
At this time, we don’t know how long hybrid immunity lasts, and how well it will protect against new variants. Current studies indicate that patients with a prior infection are roughly 5 – 20 times less likely to contract COVID-19, compared to their unvaccinated, not previously infected counterparts.
Q: If I am travelling or increasing my risk of getting COVID-19, is that a good time to get a booster dose?
A: The greatest protection after a vaccine is experienced two weeks to several months after receiving it. As a result, it makes the most sense to offer it shortly before a time of high exposure risk, provided enough time has passed since your last dose.
This is why our annual influenza vaccine campaign happens in October – because the highest transmission time for influenza is typically November through January. The same considerations hold true for COVID, although for the past two years we have had high transmission throughout the year in multiple waves, making the timing of vaccine doses difficult to plan.
Who is eligible for a first booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: A booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is available for all Albertans, 5 years of age and older, a minimum of 5 months after the last dose of the primary series.
See Additional Doses
How to book: ahs.ca/covidvaccine
Q: Are there side effects after receiving an additional dose?
A: Clinical evidence indicates that side effects reported after an additional dose were consistent with previous doses and mostly mild or moderate. No serious adverse events were reported after administration of an additional dose.
Q: My first two doses were received outside Alberta. Am I eligible for an additional dose?
A: If you are eligible, you can receive your additional doses even if your previous doses were given elsewhere.
See Additional Doses
Q: How can I book my booster doses?
A: You can book your booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine if you're eligible through the booking tool, at participating pharmacies and physicians' offices, walk-ins, or by calling Health Link at 811.
Individuals aged 65 and older who live on a First Nations reserve will be able to access booster doses through local public health clinics on-reserve.
Q: Where can I get more information on eligibility?
A: You can visit the Government of Alberta website.
It is recommended that people check the policies of individual countries, state/local governments, cruise lines and/or venues and events before travelling. Find up-to-date travel guidance on:
Q: I received a COVID-19 vaccine outside of Canada that is not approved by Health Canada. Am I eligible for mRNA series when I return to Canada?
A: Alberta considers all vaccines with emergency authorization by the World Health Organization (WHO) as being valid. If you received one or two doses of a WHO approved vaccine , but not a Health Canada authorized vaccine, you may still get immunized in Alberta with an mRNA vaccine, if you so choose.
For more information, see:
Q: Will I receive an immunization record at my appointment?
A: Yes, you will receive an immunization record at the time of your appointment.
Q: What other options are there to access my immunization record?
A: Albertans can get their vaccine record with a QR code at alberta.ca/CovidRecords. You will be able to download your record to print or save on your phone.
If you are unable to access your vaccine record online, you can request a copy through your immunization provider or through a participating Registry Agent. If you were immunized by AHS, you can call Health Link 811 for assistance or request a copy at your next immunization appointment.
For more information see the Government of Alberta COVID-19 vaccine records page.
Q: What if my vaccine information is missing or incorrect?
A: For assistance with missing or incorrect information, visit the COVID Records Help Desk.
Q: I received my immunization outside of Alberta. How will it be added my immunization records?
A: If you received COVID-19 immunization outside of Alberta or Canada, you can submit this information to be added to your health records through a secure, web-based portal at ahs.ca/vaccineregistry.
Out-of-province or out-of-country immunization records can be submitted on behalf of a child/youth under 18 years of age.
Submitting out-of-province and out-of-country immunization records ensures Albertan's health records are fully up-to-date. It also provides an accurate record of who has been immunized.
If someone is unable to access the online portal, a copy of the immunization record can also be brought to an AHS Public Health Clinic.
If AHS has contacted you either by phone or by letter requesting you to provide missing or additional information so your immunization record can be verified, please call us back as soon as possible during business hours at the number left on the phone message or letter.
Q: I've already brought my out-of-province or out-of-country COVID-19 immunization records to an AHS Public Health Clinic to be added to my health record. Do I need to upload them through the portal, too?
A: If you have already submitted your out-of-province or out-of-country COVID-19 immunization records to an AHS Public Health Clinic you do not need to upload them through the portal. It will be added to your health record within two to three weeks.
Q: Can I upload other, non-COVID immunization records through the portal?
A: At this time, the Immunization Record Submission portal can only be used for out-of-province and out-of-country COVID-19 immunization records.
Q: I received a COVID-19 vaccine outside of Alberta. How will it be added to my immunization records?
A: Out-of-province and out-of-country immunizations can be uploaded to the Immunization Record Submission online portal ahs.ca/vaccineregistry, which will then be reviewed by AHS and added to your health records.
Q: Can I use my Alberta vaccine record and QR code for travel?
Canadians travellers may be required to show proof of vaccination before going abroad. It is recommended that people check the policies of individual countries, state/local governments, cruise lines and/or venues and events before travelling.
Q: Is consent from a parent or guardian required for a minor to be vaccinated?
A: Parental consent for minors under the age of 18 is required. In some circumstances, a minor may be determined to be a mature minor who has the capacity to consent to being vaccinated on their own behalf. This is determined on a case by case basis.
Q: Is there a consent form parents or guardians are required to sign?
A: Prior to receiving their immunization, minors (under 18 years of age) if who are not deemed a mature minor will require parent/guardian consent. If the parent/guardian is in attendance, verbal consent is appropriate. If a parent/guardian cannot be in attendance, a consent form can be signed and provided if they are not deemed a mature minor to the immunizer prior to administering the vaccine. This form can be found here: Consent for COVID-19 Immunization
Q: Does a parent or guardian need to accompany the minor to their immunization appointment to provide consent?
A: If the parent is unable to attend the appointment, the minor can bring a signed consent form. Verbal consent from the parent/guardian at the time of the appointment is preferred.
In circumstances where a minor does not have signed consent form but is deemed mature by the attending immunizer, parental consent is not required.
Providing immunization for a mature minor and the assessment leading to this decision by the attending immunizer is done on a case by case basis.
Q: If parental consent is required, can this be provided electronically or remotely?
A: The parental consent form can be viewed or downloaded electronically. However, electronic signatures or submitting the signed consent form electronically is not possible at this time.
Parents are asked to print the consent form, sign it, and send it with the youth, or individual accompanying the youth, to the immunization appointment.
Q: Can a parent accompany the youth being immunized if the child requests it?
A: Yes. A parent can accompany a youth to their immunization.
Q: What if a minor does not have a parent or guardian willing to provide consent, but the youth would like to get the vaccine?
A: In some circumstances, a youth under the age of 18 may be determined to be a mature minor who has the capacity to consent to being vaccinated on their own behalf.
This is determined by each healthcare provider and takes into consideration a number of factors including age, and ability to understand the benefits and risk of the vaccine.
Providing immunization for a mature minor and the assessment leading to this decision by the attending immunizer is done on a case by case basis.
Q: How effective are the vaccines?
A: Before Omicron, vaccines were highly effective at preventing infection, and even better at preventing severe outcomes1. Since Omicron began to spread widely, its mutations have meant that vaccine doses are less able to prevent infection2. The good news is that vaccines still work very well to reduce the risk of severe outcomes and this protection still lasts a long time.2
In summary, even though they do not prevent all transmission, vaccines are a very effective tool to help lower the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19.
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.
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.
Q: How do I make the decision on which vaccine is right for me?
A: This decision is a personal choice. AHS, in conjunction with Alberta Health, recommends all Albertans get immunized as soon as they are eligible no matter what vaccine option is provided.
Those at the highest risk of severe outcomes or transmission of COVID-19 to those at high risk are recommended to receive the mRNA vaccines.
All COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for use in Canada - Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) and Novavax, are safe and effective, and will help prevent serious illness.
If you have concerns, we encourage you to speak with your healthcare provider. In consultation with them, you can determine if the benefits of immunization outweigh potential risks based on your health and circumstances. We encourage everyone to review current evidence in order to make the best and most informed decision about your health, the health of your loved ones and the greater community.
Q: I have underlying health conditions. Is the vaccine right for me?
A: We understand some people may be anxious about whether the COVID-19 vaccine is right for them. It is always best to speak to a healthcare professional about your concerns so you can decide together whether the vaccine is right for you.
Q: How effective are current vaccines against the variant strains of COVID-19?
A: See COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness against variants of concern in Alberta, Government of Alberta.
Q: Should I get vaccinated even if I've had COVID-19?
A: Yes. People with previous COVID-19 infection should continue to receive a complete vaccine series.
For individuals who have not had any previous doses, it is recommended to wait 4-8 weeks after a COVID-19 infection before receiving a dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
For individuals receiving a booster dose, it is recommended to wait 5 months after symptom onset or a positive test. A shortened interval of 3 months may be considered for individuals at higher risk for severe outcomes.
While having had the disease offers some protection against future infection, there's not enough data about that level of protection to know when it tapers off or how protective it is against new variants.
Getting fully immunized offers the best protection possible from the virus.
Q: Should I leave a gap between getting the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines?
A: COVID-19 vaccines may be co-administered with, or at any time before or after other vaccines (including live, inactivated, adjuvanted or unadjuvanted vaccines). This is safe and recommended for all populations including children, youth and those who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or who have recently delivered.
All immunizations are important to ensure maximal protection against infectious diseases. For more information about vaccines that may be recommended for you, or your child, please visit: immunizealberta.ca.
Q: Should I leave a gap between getting the influenza vaccination and the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: These vaccines can be administered at the same time. Since the COVID-19 vaccine became available, substantial data has now been collected regarding the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. At this time, there are no known safety concerns with administering both vaccines at the same time.
We recommend all Albertans receive both the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as the influenza vaccine as soon as possible to ensure the health and safety of themselves, and the greater community.
Q: I am scheduled to have a surgery soon. Is it safe to still receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: Most surgical procedures would not impact the safety or effectiveness of immunization. While there are no contraindications related to COVID-19 vaccine administration and surgery, individuals may experience adverse events following their immunization which may impact their ability to attend a surgical procedure. Side effects, such as fever, would typically occur within 24 hours of having received a COVID-19 vaccine and would normally resolve within 48 hours. Therefore, it may be advised to avoid immunization within the seven days prior to undergoing a major surgery. For surgeries that impact the immune system (e.g. transplantation) the full vaccine series should be completed two or more weeks in advance of the immunocompromising state, if possible.
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.
Q: Have there been any adverse events following immunization with the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the provinces and territories, and manufacturers continue to closely monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines and respond to any safety issues that arise.
Provincially the Government of Alberta has the most up-to-date figures on adverse events following immunization (AEFI) with the COVID-19 vaccine. A weekly report on side effects following COVID-19 vaccination in Canada, is available from the Government of Canada.
The benefits of vaccines authorized in Canada continue to outweigh the risks. All eligible Albertans are encouraged to get immunized as soon as possible.
Q: I am experiencing side-effects from the COVID-19 vaccine, what do I do?
A: Many people have no side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. If you do have side effects, they tend to be mild and go away in a few days. Please refer to COVID-19 Care after immunization for a list of symptoms.
As with anyone who receives any medication, including a vaccine, we encourage you to monitor your health and seek immediate medical attention if you experience any health concerns. Having a serious side effect after an immunization is very rare.
If you do have a serious or unusual side effect call Health Link at 811 to report it. If you are seriously ill and need immediate medical attention please call 911.
Healthcare providers play a crucial role in monitoring vaccine safety and are obligated to report adverse effects that may be linked to immunization. Adverse events are reported to the AHS Provincial AEFI Team.
Q: Have there been any reported cases of Myocarditis and Pericarditis Following COVID-19 Vaccines Alberta or the rest of Canada?
While every adverse reaction is unfortunate, it is important to remember that these side effects are extremely rare.
For up to date information on myocarditis and pericarditis following COVID-19 vaccinations in Alberta, visit COVID-19 Vaccine Program.
Q: I've heard the COVID-19 vaccine can impact male fertility. Is this true?
A: Currently, no evidence shows that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause male fertility problems. A recent small study of 45 healthy men who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (i.e., Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) looked at sperm characteristics, like quantity and movement, before and after vaccination. Researchers found no significant changes in these sperm characteristics after vaccination.
According to the Centre for Disease Control, professional societies for male reproduction recommend that men who want to have babies in the future be offered COVID-19 vaccination. There is no evidence that vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause male fertility problems.
Q: I've heard having a high fever can affect male fertility. Isn't fever a potential side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: Fever from illness has been associated with short-term decrease in sperm production in healthy men. Although fever can be a side effect of COVID-19 vaccination, there is no current evidence that fever after COVID-vaccination affects sperm production.
Fever is also a common symptom of COVID-19.
The best course of action to protect yourself is to get the vaccine, and lower your risk of more severe symptoms of COVID-19 disease.
Q: I've heard that those who are trying to get pregnant shouldn't receive the COVID-19 vaccine as it affects fertility. Is that true?
A: The vaccines do not impact fertility, damage the placenta or increase the risk of pre-term birth or stillbirth. The vaccines safely help your body produce immunity against the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and protect you from COVID-19 infection and severe outcomes. They do not target syncytin-1, which is a different protein involved in the growth and attachment of the placenta during pregnancy.
If you are pregnant, you can get the COVID-19 vaccine at any time during pregnancy. Vaccines are safe and effective. They lower your chance of becoming very sick from COVID-19 and spreading the virus to others, including your baby.
The benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweighs any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy. Pregnant and recently pregnant individuals are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people.
For more information, visit ahs.ca/vaccinepregnancy.
Q: How do the COVID-19 vaccines work?
A: There are different types of COVID-19 vaccines.
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.
Learn more about COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.
Viral Vector-based Vaccines
The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine is a viral vector-based vaccine. This vaccine uses a harmless virus, such as an adenovirus, as a delivery system. This “vector” virus is not the virus that causes COVID-19. Adenoviruses are among the viruses that can cause the common cold. When a person is given the vaccine, the vector virus contained within the vaccine produces the protein that is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. This protein will not make you sick. It does its job and goes away. Through this process, the body is able to build a strong immune response against the spike protein without exposing you to the virus that causes COVID-19.
Learn more about viral vector-based vaccines for COVID-19.
Protein Subunit Vaccines
Novavax's Nuvaxovid COVID-19 vaccine is a protein-based vaccine. These vaccines contain harmless and purified pieces (proteins) of the virus, which have been specifically selected for their ability to trigger immunity. They cannot cause COVID-19 because they only contain small purified pieces of proteins and not the virus. Once vaccinated, our immune system recognizes that the proteins don't belong in the body and begins making T-lymphocytes and antibodies. If we're ever infected in the future, memory cells will recognize and fight the virus.
Protein subunit vaccines are already used for other diseases, such as hepatitis B.
Learn more about COVID-19 protein subunit vaccines.
Q: Will mRNA change my DNA?
A: No. Injecting mRNA into a person does not change the DNA of a human cell.
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.
Refer to MyHealth.Alberta.ca 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.
Q: Which COVID-19 vaccines are approved for use in Canada?
A: To date, four products are approved by Health Canada:
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.).