Vaccine Quick Facts
The two COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved by Health Canada are safe, effective and will save lives. By getting vaccinated, you’re protecting yourself, and everyone else, too. Here are some need-to-know essentials about the approved vaccines and the upcoming vaccination program:
The COVID-19 vaccine will be free for everyone in British Columbia who is eligible to receive it. The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and Health Canada are the best sources of information on COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination.
There are currently two COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada. The first was developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and the second by Moderna. There are minor differences, but both are more than 94% effective at preventing infection by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The two approved vaccines are Messenger RNA (mRNA)-based. These vaccines work by “teaching” cells to create a spike protein that triggers an immune response, causing the body to produce antibodies. Vaccinated individuals gain protection without risking the consequences of exposure to the virus.
More vaccines are coming. While there are two vaccines currently approved for administration in Canada, many more are in development – with around 150 vaccine candidates in the works around the world. The Government of Canada has already created advanced purchase agreements for the most promising options.
Only vaccines that are safe and effective are approved for use in Canada. Despite their expedited development and approval, the COVID-19 vaccines still had to go through all required steps to prove their safety and effectiveness. Canada has one of the most rigorous regulatory systems to authorize new vaccines in the world. Health Canada is focusing on reviewing and approving COVID-19 vaccines as quickly as possible, while ensuring that they are well-studied and safe.
Key populations are being prioritized for vaccination. With initial supplies limited, governments are focusing first on frontline healthcare workers and the most vulnerable, then moving to other high-risk populations, and those who help keep our pandemic response, society and economy running. Learn more about B.C.’s rollout timeline.
We don’t know yet if vaccination prevents transmission. We also don’t know for certain what level of immunity in the population will achieve community or “herd” immunity. This means, for now, Canadians should continue to exercise COVID-19 safety precautions: wash your hands often and vigorously, stay home when sick, maintain physical distancing, wear face masks in indoor public spaces and continue exercising good cough and surface hygiene.
Vaccination doesn’t just protect you; it protects everyone. Vaccination is a choice you should make to protect yourself, your family and your community. Vaccines save lives. The more people who are vaccinated, and therefore protected from COVID-19, the harder it is for the virus to spread.