Alberta Health Services
The Moderna SpikeVax XBB.1.5 and Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty XBB.1.5 vaccines are the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines available in Alberta starting October 16. They are updated mRNA vaccines that help protect you against getting seriously ill from COVID-19, including XBB variants that are currently spreading.
Everyone is at risk of COVID-19. You should get an XBB.1.5 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine if you are age 6 months or older. COVID-19 vaccines are free.
You may not be able to get the XBB.1.5 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine if:
If you have allergies or have had a side effect to this vaccine, check with your doctor or a public health nurse before you get the vaccine.
Although you can get the vaccine if you have a mild illness such as a cold or fever, you should stay home until you are feeling better to prevent spreading your illness to others.
Check with your healthcare provider about when you can get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine if:
Be sure to talk to your doctor before you get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine if:
If you have already had COVID-19, it is not yet known how long your protection will last or how much protection you will have against variants. It is important to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if you have 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 have had COVID-19 in the past, check with your healthcare provider about when to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
You can get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. There is more to learn about the Moderna XBB.1.5 and Pfizer-BioNTech XBB.1.5 vaccines while pregnant or breastfeeding, but information from the original mRNA vaccines found no safety concerns. Research shows that mRNA vaccines are the safest type of COVID-19 vaccine to get while pregnant or breastfeeding.
While you are 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 are pregnant or breastfeeding and have questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine, talk to your healthcare provider.
If you are age 6 months to 4 years, you can get the Moderna XBB.1.5 vaccine.
If you are age 5 years or older, you can get either the Moderna XBB.1.5 vaccine or the Pfizer-BioNTech XBB.1.5 vaccine.
If you are age 6 months to 4 years, you need at least 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, 8 weeks apart. The Moderna XBB.1.5 vaccine can start or complete your 2-dose series.
If you have already had 2 doses of a non-XBB.1.5 COVID-19 vaccine, you can get 1 dose of the Moderna XBB.1.5 vaccine at least 3 months after your last dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Getting this dose of the Moderna XBB.1.5 vaccine sooner than 6 months after your last dose is “off-label use.” Vaccine experts support the 3-month spacing, and research has found no safety concerns.
If you are age 5 years or older, you need 1 dose of an XBB.1.5 vaccine at least 3 months from your last dose, regardless of how many doses you have already had. If you get a dose of an XBB.1.5 vaccine sooner than 6 months after your last dose, it is “off-label use” if:
Vaccine experts support the 3-month spacing, and research has found no safety concerns.
You may need extra doses if you have a health problem that weakens your immune system. For example:
If you have a weak immune system, you need at least 3 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. The XBB.1.5 vaccines can start or complete your 3-dose series. A 3-dose series is “off-label use,” and it is supported by vaccine experts.
If you have already had 3 or more doses of a non-XBB.1.5 COVID-19 vaccine, you can get 1 dose of an XBB.1.5 vaccine at least 3 months after your last dose. If you get a dose of an XBB.1.5 vaccine sooner than 6 months after your last dose, it is “off-label use” if:
Studies show that extra doses may give better protection to adolescents and adults with a weak immune system. In babies and children with a weak immune system, extra doses may also give better protection, but research is still happening to learn more.
Research has shown mRNA vaccines provide the best protection for people with a weak immune system. Information from the use of the original mRNA vaccines shows that the Moderna mRNA vaccine may provide better protection than the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people with a weak immune system.
If you are age 12 to 29 years with a weak immune system and have not had 3 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, the Pfizer-BioNTech XBB.1.5 vaccine is recommended to start or complete your 3-dose series. This is because the risk of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining around the heart) was shown to be lower after the first and second dose of the original Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine compared with the original Moderna mRNA vaccine. However, you can choose to have either vaccine.
Both vaccines have a similar lower risk of myocarditis and pericarditis following additional doses that are given after the second dose. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions.
If you have had a stem cell transplant or are getting CAR T-cell therapy (a type of cancer treatment), talk to your healthcare provider about when you can get a dose of XBB.1.5 vaccine and how many doses you need.
Consent for a COVID-19 vaccine for children under age 18 years is provided by a parent or guardian. If a parent or guardian cannot be at the appointment, they can use the consent form at COVID-19 consent for children under 18. In some cases, children under age 18 years may be able to give their own consent.
Alternate decision-makers (could be an agent, guardian, specific decision-maker, or co-decision-maker for another person) can use this consent form when they cannot attend an immunization appointment with the person they are authorized to make decisions for. Alternate decision-makers must also include (with the consent form) a copy of documents showing they are the person’s authorized decision-maker.
The person being immunized must bring the completed and signed consent form to their appointment.
How well the vaccines work against COVID-19 is different for each variant of the virus. 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 XBB.1.5 and Pfizer-BioNTech XBB.1.5 vaccines are the only vaccines available in Alberta made to protect against the XBB variants that are currently spreading. These updated vaccines will help to lower your risk of getting seriously ill and needing to be in the hospital.
Vaccine safety is a top priority. Canada uses extremely safe vaccines. Learn more about vaccine safety in Canada, including how vaccines are monitored for continued safety, and ingredients in vaccines.
You can get most vaccines at the same time as, any time before, or any time after an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, including routine vaccines and the influenza vaccine. However, certain vaccines have a waiting period. If you had another vaccine in the last 4 weeks, check with your healthcare provider about when you can get the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
There can be side effects from mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, but they tend to be mild and go away in a few days. Side effects may include:
Children age 5 years and younger may also get upset easily, be sleepy, cry, or may not want to eat.
At least 1 out of 100 people who got this vaccine reported 1 or more of these side effects. In some cases, it is unknown if the vaccine caused these side effects.
Current information shows that there is a similar risk of side effects after each dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
It is 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 will get medicine to treat the symptoms.
It is rare to have a serious side effect. Call Health Link at 811 to report any serious or unusual side effects.
There can be mild, short-term side effects after getting a vaccine. Find tips to manage these side effects at home.
There have been very rare reports of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining around the heart) within 7 days of getting an mRNA vaccine. Most reported cases were mild and got better with treatment.
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.
Research has shown a lower risk of these rare events following the first and second dose of the original Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine compared to the original Moderna mRNA vaccine, especially among 12- to 29- year-olds. Research has shown that the risk of these rare events after additional doses is lower than the risk after the second dose for any type of mRNA vaccine.
Research has shown that children age 5 to 11 years have a lower risk of these events than adolescents and adults.
In clinical trials for both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, there were no reports of myocarditis or pericarditis in children age 6 months to 5 years.
Research is still happening to learn more about the risk of these rare events after a getting an XBB.1.5 vaccine.
It is 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:
Research is happening to learn more about the risks of these rare events. Your risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 is much higher than your risk of having a rare event after these vaccines.