Get protected, get immunized.
COVID-19 vaccines protect against the SARS-CoV-2 virus (also known as COVID-19). The virus causes an infection in the lungs and airways and is a type of respiratory illness. In some cases, the infection can cause problems with other organs or other parts of the body. Go to
ahs.ca/covid to learn more about COVID-19.
The following COVID-19 vaccines are approved for use in Canada:
The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Janssen, and Novavax vaccines are available in Alberta.
Everyone is at risk of COVID-19. You can get a protein-based COVID-19 vaccine if you’re age 12 years or older and you can’t have or don’t want an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines are free.
If you’ve already had COVID-19, it’s not yet known how long your protection will last or how much protection you’ll have against variants. It’s important to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if you’ve already had the virus.
The vaccine may give you better protection if you wait a while after having COVID-19 and then get a vaccine. How long to wait depends on your health history, the number of doses of COVID-19 vaccine you have had, and your risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.
If you’ve had COVID-19 in the past, check with your healthcare provider about when to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
How well the vaccines work against COVID-19 is different for each variant. COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to lower your risk of getting COVID-19 or getting very sick from it.
The mRNA vaccines give the best protection. The Moderna Bivalent and the Pfizer-BioNTech Bivalent vaccines are the only vaccines that are specifically made to protect against the Omicron variants, which are the strains that are currently spreading. The protein-based vaccine gives more protection than the viral vector-based vaccines. However, all the vaccines work very well to lower your risk of getting seriously ill and needing to be in the hospital.
You need at least 2 doses of the protein-based COVID-19 vaccine. These doses are called your primary series.
For some people, 2 doses may not give enough protection. You may need a third dose to complete your primary series if you have a health problem that weakens your immune system. For example:
Studies have shown that a third dose may provide better protection for adults with a weak immune system. In children with a weak immune system, an extra dose may also give better protection, but research is still happening to learn more.
A booster dose will help keep you protected during times when there will likely be lots of COVID-19 virus going around, such as fall and winter. You can get a booster dose 5 months after your last dose. Waiting 5 months helps the booster dose work better. However, if you are at high risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 because of a health condition or you live in a seniors care facility, such as a nursing home, you can get a booster dose 3 months after your last dose.
You can get a booster dose of the protein-based vaccine after your last dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, whether it was the final dose of your primary series or a booster dose.
Talk to your healthcare provider about when you should get your booster dose.
alberta.ca/covid19-vaccine to book an appointment for your booster dose.
Yes, you can get a protein-based COVID-19 vaccine if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. However, research shows that mRNA vaccines are the safest type of COVID-19 vaccines to get during pregnancy. There is more to learn about getting a protein-based COVID-19 vaccine when you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
When you’re pregnant, you have a higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine lowers your risk of getting seriously ill from the virus.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it is recommended that you talk to your healthcare provider before getting a protein-based COVID-19 vaccine.
ahs.ca/covidvaccine to find out where and when you can get a COVID-19 vaccine.
There can be side effects from the protein-based COVID-19 vaccine, but they tend to be mild and go away in a few days. Side effects may include:
Current information shows that you’re more likely to have these side effects after your second dose of the protein-based vaccine. Research continues to find out more about the risk of side effects after additional doses.
It’s important to stay at the clinic for 15 minutes after your vaccine. Some people may have a rare but serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. If anaphylaxis happens, you’ll get medicine to treat the symptoms.
It’s rare to have a serious side effect. Call Health Link at 811 to report any serious or unusual side effects.
There have been very rare reports of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining around the heart) shortly after getting the protein-based vaccine. The reported cases were mild and got better with treatment. It’s still not known if these events were caused by the vaccine, and research is happening to learn more about the risk of these rare events after getting the protein-based vaccine.
The inflammation can cause shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, or a very fast or abnormal heart rate. Get medical help
right away if you have any of these symptoms.
It’s not known if having a history of myocarditis or pericarditis puts you at higher risk of having these rare events after a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor before you get a dose of COVID-19 vaccine if:
Your risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 is much higher than your risk of having a rare event after these vaccines. Go to
COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions for more information.
To help with soreness and swelling, put a cool, wet cloth over the area where you had the needle.
There is medicine to help with a fever or pain. Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you’re not sure what medicine or dose to take. Follow the directions on the package.
Children under the age of 18 years should not take Aspirin (unless your doctor has told you to take it) because it can cause serious health problems if taken within 6 weeks of a vaccine.
Some people with health problems, such as a weak immune system, must call their doctor if they get a fever. If you’ve been told to do this, call your doctor even if you think the fever is from the vaccine.
You will get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine for your primary series. If you can’t get or don’t want this type of vaccine, you can get the protein-based vaccine if you are age 12 years or older or the viral vector-based vaccine if you’re age 18 years or older.
Usually you get the same vaccine for all your doses. If your first-dose vaccine isn’t available or you can’t have it, you can get a different COVID-19 vaccine for your next dose.
Whichever vaccine you get to complete your primary series protects you against COVID-19.
Talk to your healthcare provider about which vaccine is best for you.
ahs.ca/seconddose for more information.
You will get an mRNA vaccine for your booster dose.
If you can’t get or don’t want an mRNA vaccine, you can get the protein-based vaccine if you are age 12 years or older.
The protein-based vaccine is licensed (approved for use) as a 2-dose primary series for those age 12 years and older and a first booster dose for those age 18 years and older. But vaccine experts support getting more doses of a protein-based vaccine in the following situations, called “off-label use”:
Talk to your healthcare provider about which vaccine you can get and when to have your doses.
Research has shown mRNA vaccines provide the best protection for people with a weak immune system. Talk to your healthcare provider about which vaccine is best for you.
You can get most vaccines at the same time as, any time before, or any time after the protein-based COVID-19 vaccine. However, certain vaccines have a waiting period. If you had another vaccine in the last 2 weeks, check with your healthcare provider about when you can get the protein-based COVID-19 vaccine.
You may not be able to get the protein-based COVID-19 vaccine if you:
Always tell your healthcare provider if you have allergies or if you've had a side effect from a vaccine in the past.
Check with your healthcare provider before you get the protein-based COVID-19 vaccine if you had COVID-19 in the past.
Be sure to talk to your doctor
before you get the protein-based COVID-19 vaccine if you:
COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus. The virus causes an infection in the lungs and airways and is a type of respiratory illness. Symptoms may include:
Most people have only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. But if you’re an older adult or have other health problems, you can get very sick and may need care in a hospital. In serious cases, COVID-19 can cause a type of lung infection called pneumonia. Pneumonia makes it hard to breathe without help and can even lead to death.
COVID-19: How to manage symptoms for a list of all symptoms that may be related to COVID-19.
It’s important to know that you and others can spread COVID-19 before symptoms start.
ahs.ca/covid to find out more.
To prevent COVID-19 from spreading:
If you think you’ve had contact with COVID-19 or have symptoms, take the COVID-19 Self-Assessment at
Current as of: January 5, 2023
Author: Provincial Immunization Program, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.