About the COVID-19 vaccines

Last updated: Apr 9, 2021 @ 12:03 pm

VIDEO: What everyone should know about COVID-19 vaccines

Four vaccines have been approved by Health Canada:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech – approved on Dec. 9, 2020
  • Moderna – approved on Dec. 23, 2020
  • AstraZeneca – approved on Feb. 26, 2021
  • Janssen – approved on Mar. 5, 2020

More information on the approval process can be found on the Health Canada website.

At this point in time, our clinics at Unity Health are vaccinating with the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

Yes. The vaccines have been tested in extensive clinical trials and proven safe for individuals who do not meet certain exclusion criteria.

More information on vaccine safety can be found on the Health Canada website.

The Health Canada approved COVID-19 vaccines have gone through the same rigorous process as all approved drugs. This happened so quickly because it was a top priority, and there was dramatically increased funding and collaboration.

The vaccine is not 100 per cent effective. There’s still a small chance that you could get COVID-19 after getting the vaccine. Continue to follow all advice from public health and your care team.

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines, which work by teaching our cells to make a protein that triggers an immune response to COVID-19 without using the live virus that causes COVID-19. This immune response results in the production of antibodies, which help us fight infection if the real virus enters our body in the future.

The AstraZeneca and the Janssen vaccines are viral vector-based vaccines – they use a harmless virus as a delivery system. The virus is not COVID-19. When a person is given the vaccine, the vector virus contained within the vaccine produces the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. This protein 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.

More information can be found on the Health Canada website.

The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines are given by injection into the muscle of the arm. 

More information can be found on the Health Canada website.

Some people who get the vaccine have mild side effects. These can include pain, redness or swelling where the needle went in, a sore muscle, headache or fever. These are normal and are signs that the vaccine is working.

Please speak with your health professional about any serious allergies or other health conditions you may have before you receive any vaccine.

A list of ingredients in the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines can be found on their Health Canada product pages:

You can’t get COVID-19 from the COVID-19 vaccines.

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines that don’t contain the live virus and therefore cannot cause the illness.

The AstraZeneca and the Janssen vaccines are viral vector-based vaccines – they use a harmless virus as a delivery system. The virus is not COVID-19. When a person is given the vaccine, the vector virus contained within the vaccine produces the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. This protein 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.

Serious side effects to the COVID-19 vaccine are rare. Similar to other vaccines they are mostly minor allergic reactions. The COVID-19 vaccine will not cause an autoimmune condition.

We will only beat COVID-19 when the majority of people get vaccinated. If all eligible young adults get the vaccine, we can achieve herd immunity and stop the spread of the virus.

Yes, you still need to wear a mask, wash your hands often and keep a safe distance once you have been vaccinated. Although both COVID-19 vaccinations provide protection against symptomatic infection, we don’t yet know whether they prevent the recipient from spreading the virus to others.

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to get pregnant, you can choose to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Speak with your doctor about your options.

People with most health conditions, including those who are immunocompromised, can get the COVID-19 vaccine. Speak with your doctor about your options.

The Ontario government announced it has accepted the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommendation for second dose appointments to be scheduled 16 weeks from the time of the first dose for everyone excluding:

  • Residents of long-term care homes, retirement homes, Elder Care Lodges and Assisted Living facilities.
  • Remote and isolated First Nation communities (currently supported by Operation Remote Immunity).
  • Transplant recipients (including solid organ transplants and hematopoietic stem cell transplants)
  • Individuals with malignant hematologic disorders and
    non-hematologic malignant solid tumors receiving active treatment
    (chemotherapy, targeted therapies, immunotherapy), excluding individuals receiving solely hormonal therapy or radiation therapy

The Ministry of Health has directed that this extended interval apply to COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD.

If you meet this criteria and need to reschedule your second dose, please reach out to us through our contact form.