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Frequently asked questions - COVID-19 vaccines

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.

Canada has a very thorough system to approve new vaccines for human use. Only vaccines that have been shown to be safe are approved. Once approved for use, all vaccines are closely monitored by public health officials and Health Canada for their safety. The COVID-19 vaccines currently used in Canada have been administered to millions of people around the world and have been shown to be both safe and effective.‎

 

You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. However, if you were exposed to the virus before you received your vaccine, you may be incubating the virus and not realize you have COVID-19 until after you are vaccinated. It takes about two weeks to gain protection from the COVID-19 vaccine. This means if you contracted the virus before getting the vaccine, or within the two-week period following vaccination, you may still get sick from COVID-19. If you experience symptoms of COVID-19 after you’ve been vaccinated, use B.C. self-assessment tool to determine if you need to be tested.‎

 

It is common to experience some side effects after you get the vaccine. Side effects are typically mild to moderate and usually go away on their own. Learn more about what to expect when you get a COVID-19 vaccine by visiting gov.bc.ca/covid19.

It is important to stay in the clinic for 15 minutes after getting any vaccine because about one in a million people can have a serious allergic reaction, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the throat, tongue or lips. Should this reaction occur, your health-care provider is prepared to treat it. Emergency treatment includes administration of epinephrine (adrenaline) and transfer by ambulance to the nearest emergency department. If symptoms develop after you leave the clinic, call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number.

If you have any concerns about the vaccine related to medications you are taking or allergies, please speak with your family doctor, nurse practitioner or call 8-1-1.‎

Fourteen days after receiving one dose of either vaccine, protection is greater than 90 per cent. After two doses, both vaccines are about 95 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19. The duration of protection is not yet known for one or two doses of the vaccine but is being studied. In general, some vaccines provide lifelong immunity, while others such as tetanus only work for 10 years. Learn more about the vaccines for COVID-19 at gov.bc.ca/covid19.‎

Register now at getvaccinated.gov.bc.ca to be notified when it's time to book an appointment for a first or second dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Four COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized for use in Canada: the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Currently, Pfizer, Moderna and the AstraZeneca vaccine are in use in B.C.

 

The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines work by delivering genetic instructions from the virus that causes COVID-19 to our own cells so we produce the spike protein of the virus. These proteins will create an immune response. They teach your body how to recognize and fight future infections. Learn more on the vaccines for COVID-19 by visiting gov.bc.ca/covid19.‎

 

Masks must be worn in all indoor public spaces throughout B.C. to help slow the transmission of COVID-19 as B.C. prepares for the fall and respiratory illness season. 

An Aug. 24 order from the provincial health officer requires people 12 years of age and older to wear masks in indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status. These settings include:

  • malls, shopping centres, coffee shops and retail and grocery stores;

  • liquor and drug stores;

  • airports, city halls, libraries, community and recreation centres;

  • restaurants, pubs and bars (unless seated);

  • on public transportation, in a taxi or ride-sharing vehicle;

  • areas of office buildings where services to the public are provided;

  • common areas of sport and fitness centres when not engaged in physical activity;

  • common areas of post-secondary institutions and non-profit organizations; and

  • inside schools for all K-12 staff, visitors and students in grades 4-12. 

This temporary order will be reassessed as the B.C. vaccine card requirement is fully implemented in certain social and recreational settings, as announced on Aug. 23.


Nearly everyone will be able to safely receive the vaccine, although a very small number of people may need to avoid vaccination due to severe allergies to parts of the vaccine. Learn more about consideration for the vaccine by visiting gov.bc.ca/covid19.‎

 

If you are unable to leave your home for a vaccination appointment, we can help. Please call 1-833-838-2323 and inform the call centre representative that you are unable to attend a clinic. You will be referred to our Home Health team who will call you back for an assessment to receive a home visit.

For information about travel, visit the travel page on BCCDC.

 

If you are not a resident of B.C., you may book an appointment using the toll-free vaccine appointment booking line at 1-833-838-2323. You will then be able to choose to attend a vaccination clinic in your local community to receive a free vaccine. You will not need to provide a B.C. Personal Health Number or proof of residence in B.C.

Drop-ins are now welcome at all VCH clinics on a first-come, first-served basis, depending on your eligibility and vaccine availability. People 12+ are eligible to be vaccinated and you are eligible for a second dose at 28 days after your first dose. Find a VCH vaccination clinic near you.

While registration and booking using the provincial Get Vaccinated system is still encouraged, these clinics will allow eligible people to drop-in and receive a vaccine without a scheduled appointment.

You are encouraged to bring your immunization record card or show your online immunization record on Health Gateway.

 

B.C. residents: Access your COVID-19 vaccine records by registering for Health Gateway, an online website that provides a single place for B.C. residents to access their health records. After getting your COVID-19 vaccine, be sure to keep a paper copy of your immunization record in a safe place. By registering for B.C.'s Health Gateway, you will also be able to access a digital copy of your COVID-19 vaccine record.

Non-B.C. residents: To request your COVID-19 immunization records, email Vancouver Community Health Records at  VCHCOMM_ROI@vch.ca with the following information:

  1. Last Name:

  2. First Name:

  3. Middle Name(s):

  4. Also Known As/Alias:

  5. Date of Birth (dd-mmm-yyyy):

  6. BC Personal Health Number (if known):

  7. Primary Email:

  8. Preferred Phone Number:

  9. Address while living/staying in British Columbia:

  10. Date (dd-mmm-yyyy) of Vaccine Dose 1 and Trade name (eg. Moderna) (if known):

  11. Date (dd-mmm-yyyy) of Vaccine Dose 2 and Trade name (eg.  Moderna) (if known):

 

Indigenous People (First Nations, Métis, Inuit)

If you call to book an appointment and self-identify as Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, Inuit), you will be offered the option to make an appointment at a recognized Indigenous owned and operated facility or the closest available clinic in your community. Indigenous-specific clinics will be set up in some urban centres and will have specific cultural elements, as well as cultural and ceremonial plans in place. All Vancouver Coastal Health clinics will be welcoming to all Indigenous people.

Registration and booking is a two-step process. Register at getvaccinated.gov.bc.ca and enter your personal and contact information. When it's time to book your appointment you will receive a text or email with a unique link for booking your vaccination appointment. You will be automatically notified when it's time to book an appointment for your second dose. 

 

When you call to register for your appointment, you will be asked to self-identify as Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, Inuit). You will not need to provide identification to prove it, but will need to bring a piece of photo ID and your provincial health number to the clinic.‎

 

Métis people can attend any Vancouver Coastal Health clinic in their local community to receive their vaccination. When you call the toll-free appointment booking line, you will be asked where you live and if you identify as Indigenous. You will then be able to choose any vaccination clinic in your community. There will be Indigenous owned and operated clinics in some urban centres that will have Elders and cultural/ceremonial plans in place. All Vancouver Coastal Health clinics will be welcoming to all Indigenous people.

As part of the first phase of the BC Immunization Plan, adults 55 years of age and older in some remote and isolated First Nation communities were vaccinated due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

 

Canada has a very thorough system to approve new vaccines for human use. Only vaccines that have been shown to be safe are approved. Once approved for use, all vaccines are closely monitored by public health officials and Health Canada for their safety. The COVID-19 vaccines currently used in Canada have been administered to millions of people around the world and have been shown to be both safe and effective.‎

If you have questions or concerns about the vaccine and its safety, please visit the following websites: BC Centre for Disease Control and Government of Canada. You can also speak to your health-care provider if you have further concerns or questions about the vaccine. 

All health-care workers employed by a health authority who provide direct patient or client care in the Vancouver Coastal Health region are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. This includes health-care workers employed by Vancouver Coastal Health, Providence Health Care, Provincial Health Services Authority and First Nations Health Authority. Family doctors, nurse practitioners and medical specialists who provide care in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, but who are not affiliated with a health authority, are also eligible for vaccination.‎

 

Indigenous peoples have been identified as a high-risk group and have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 virus. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has identified Indigenous Peoples as being at increased risk for vaccine-preventable diseases and has recommended their priority vaccination for COVID-19.

To date, the rate of COVID-19 infection among First Nations peoples in BC is more than double that of the non-First Nations individuals; the median age of death due to COVID-19 has been 18 years younger for First Nations populations compared to the provincial median.

Youth (Aged 12-17)

Youth, ages 12 to 17, can register for their COVID-19 vaccine. Find out what to expect in this video walkthrough.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that a complete series with a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to individuals 12 to 17 years of age who do not have contraindications to the vaccine. 

For more information on the use of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in adolescents 12 to 17 years of age, visit the Government of Canada website.

 

Parents, guardians and youth aged 12 years and older can register to book an appointment through the provincial online booking system or by calling 1-833-838-2323.

Vaccinations will take place mainly in Vancouver Coastal Health vaccination clinics. A list of clinics is available at www.vch.ca/vaccine.

 

In order for families to be vaccinated together, we are offering COVID-19 vaccinations in the clinic setting. Our vaccination clinics are well established and ready to welcome families.

The COVID-19 vaccine is free for everyone in B.C.

Youth aged 12-17 do not need parental consent to receive a vaccination. The Infants Act states that children may consent to a medical treatment on their own as long as the health care provider is sure that the treatment is in the child’s best interest, and that the child understands the details of the treatment, including risks and benefits. It is up to the health care provider to assess and ensure the child’s understanding of the treatment. Parents/guardians are always welcome to attend the clinic to make the immunization a comfortable experience for your child.

 

Booking a COVID-19 vaccination is easy. You only need to register to book one child aged 12-17 into the provincial online booking system, and may bring multiple children to the same appointment. You may also register to book an appointment for yourself and bring your children with you to be vaccinated.

 

Yes. After you have registered your child and booked and appointment, you may bring other children to the same vaccination appointment, including your own.

 

Vaccines authorized for use in Canada are rigorously tested and the benefits of getting immunized continue to outweigh risks. Health Canada has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12 and up. Safety and efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine has been assessed in all ages, including children 12-17 years of age. Both vaccines are safe and recommended for all children. 

If you have questions or concerns about the vaccine and its safety, please talk to your doctor, call 8-1-1 or visit the Government of British Columbia website for more information. 

For more information on the use of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in adolescents 12 to 17 years of age, visit the Government of Canada website.

There have been potential minor side effects reported with COVID-19 vaccines, such as pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle and joint pain and fever. These potential side effects don’t mean you contracted COVID-19.

 

Drop-in clinics

Any person 12 years or older can attend a drop-in clinic. All are welcome including those without personal health numbers or B.C. non-residents.

VCH will make every effort to get everyone who attends vaccinated. In the event we can’t vaccinate everyone, staff will available on-site to help people register and book appointments at other clinics throughout the region if needed.

Please check our website at vch.ca/vaccine for up-to-date information on clinics offering appointments and drop-in spots.

 

An mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna vaccine). A choice will not be offered.

The COVID-19 vaccine is free for everyone in B.C.

 

Bring your booking confirmation and photo ID.

Wear a short-sleeved shirt and a mask. You will be provided a mask if you need one.

Arrive a few minutes before your scheduled appointment time.

You can bring one person with you for support. All clinics are wheelchair accessible.

 Yes. You may bring your entire immediate family to your vaccination appointment.

Proof of vaccination and the BC Vaccine Card

Starting September 13, 2021, you need proof of vaccination to access some events, services and businesses. For more information, visit the Government of BC website

You can register to get the BC Vaccine Card on the Government of BC website.

 

By order of the Provincial Health Officer (PHO), proof of vaccination is required to access some events, services and businesses. For more information on who the requirement applies to and what the requirement covers, please visit the Government of BC website.

 

To give everyone time to get their BC Vaccine Card, up to and including September 26, 2021, you can show other forms of proof of vaccination.

For a list of acceptable forms of proof of vaccination, please visit the Government of BC website.

 
 



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