People aged 5 and older can be vaccinated against COVID-19, unless there are contraindications. Vaccination against COVID-19 is free.
Vaccination against COVID-19 includes primary doses and booster doses.
Goals of vaccination
The main goal of vaccinating against COVID-19 is to reduce hospitalizations and deaths associated with COVID-19 for those most at risk. It also reduces transmission of the virus and reduces the number of cases.
Any electronic or telephone communication offering COVID-19 vaccination for a fee is fraudulent. Moreover, you never have to provide your social insurance number (SIN) or credit card number to get vaccinated. If you believe you have been the victim of a fraudulent communication, please notify the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre .
Where to get vaccinated
See the Get vaccinated against COVID-19 page to find out how to get vaccinated.
Number of vaccine doses recommended
It is important to receive all the recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to have the best protection against variants.
For most people, two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are recommended. An interval of eight weeks or more is recommended between the first and second dose.
For people 5 years of age and older who have a compromised immune system or are on dialysis, three doses are necessary with a four-week interval between doses. Since these people have a less robust immune response and are at a greater risk of developing more serious complications from the illness than healthy people, it is preferable to protect them more quickly.
For people 18 years of age and older and for some people between the ages of 12 and 17 years old, one or more booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are recommended at an interval of three months or more between doses.
This allows the immune system to re-establish a sufficient level of antibodies to compensate for the drop that may occur after a few months. New data shows that one or more COVID-19 booster doses provides better protection. Booster doses also increase protection against new variants, such as the Omicron variant.
People who have had COVID-19
People who have already had COVID-19 (confirmed by a nucleic acid amplification test or a rapid test) might need fewer doses but can receive all the doses offered if they wish.
An interval of three months is recommended between a COVID-19 infection and a COVID-19 booster dose, while respecting the interval required between vaccine doses.
See the Get vaccinated against COVID-19 page to find out how to get vaccinated.
Young people from 5 to 17 years of age
A pediatric formulation is offered to children 5 to 11 years of age. It is adapted for them. It produces an immune response in children 5 to 11 years of age that is just as effective as the immune response produced by the regular dose for people 12 years of age and older.
It is recommended that young people 12 to 17 years of age who are at high risk of complications receive a booster dose. For example,
- Chronic cardiac or pulmonary disorders severe enough to require regular medical attention or hospital care, including the following:
- Bronchopulmonary dysplasia,
- Cystic fibrosis,
- Chronic conditions such as:
- Morbid obesity (as indicated by a BMI ≥ 40),
- Diabetes or other chronic metabolic disorders,
- Liver problems, including cirrhosis,
- Kidney problems,
- Blood disorders, including hemoglobinopathy, asplenia, anemia,
- Immunodeficiencies, including HIV infection,
- Immunosuppression caused by radiotherapy, chemotherapy and anti-rejection drugs (transplant);
- Medical conditions that may affect the ability to expel respiratory secretions and the ability to swallow, including the following:
- Cognitive disorders,
- Spinal cord injuries,
- Convulsive disorders,
- Neuromuscular disorders,
- another condition identified by the attending physician.
Young people 12 to 17 years old who live in a closed group setting should receive a booster dose.
Youth 13 years of age and under need the consent of a parent or legal guardian to be vaccinated. People 14 years of age and older can give their own consent for COVID-19 vaccination.
People living in a residence
Two doses are recommended for people living in CHSLDs and RPAs, and other environments with a high proportion of elderly and vulnerable people, such as some intermediate and family-type resources, as well as some religious communities.
It is recommended that pregnant women be vaccinated because they present a higher risk of complications from COVID-19 than women who are not pregnant. Messenger RNA vaccines are recommended for this group because there is more data on the safety of these vaccines during pregnancy. Pregnant women can make an appointment in a vaccination clinic by consulting the following page Get vaccinated against COVID-19.
COVID-19 messenger RNA vaccine
Quebec experts recommend that people receive a messenger RNA vaccine for protection against COVID-19 because these vaccines are more effective.
- The Pfizer vaccine, approved for people 5 years of age and older;
- The Moderna vaccine, approved for people 6 years of age and older.
The Pfizer vaccine is recommended for people aged 6 to 29 because it may present a lower risk of pericarditis and myocarditis. The Moderna vaccine may be obtained on demand or offered to some young people with health problems that affect their immune system.
COVID-19 recombinant protein vaccines with adjuvant
The Novavax and Medicago recombinant protein vaccines with adjuvant are approved for people 18 years of age and older in one of the following situations:
- when messenger RNA vaccines are contraindicated,
- when a person refuses a messenger RNA vaccine.
A COVID-19 messenger RNA vaccine is recommended as a booster dose. However, people with a contraindication or who refuse messenger RNA vaccines may choose a recombinant protein vaccine with adjuvant (Novavax or Medicago) as a booster dose.
COVID-19 viral vector-based vaccines
The AstraZeneca, Covishield and Janssen vaccines are used for people 18 years of age and older in one of the following situations:
- when messenger RNA vaccines and recombinant protein-based vaccines with adjuvant are contraindicated.
- when a person refuses a messenger RNA vaccine and a recombinant protein vaccine with adjuvant.
How vaccines work
When a person is vaccinated against COVID-19, the body prepares its defence against the virus. A natural immune response is triggered that neutralizes the virus by producing antibodies and other defence cells.
The virus that causes COVID‑19 is composed of a strand of genetic material, RNA (ribonucleic acid), surrounded by an envelope. On the surface of the virus, there are proteins, including the S protein (spike protein) which gives it its crown shape, hence its name coronavirus. The S protein allows the virus to infect cells in the human body.
COVID-19 messenger RNA vaccines and viral vector-based vaccines block the S protein, preventing the virus from entering and infecting human cells.
The COVID-19 recombinant protein vaccines with adjuvant contains the S protein (spike protein) and uses it as an antigen. The addition of adjuvant facilitates activation of the immune system cells to prevent the virus from entering human cells and infecting them.
These vaccines do not protect against colds and respiratory infections caused by other viruses, such as influenza.
Vaccines cannot cause COVID‑19 because they do not contain the SARS‑CoV‑2 virus, responsible for the illness. However, a person who has been in contact with the virus in the days preceding or following vaccination could still develop COVID‑19. It is important to continue applying the recommended health measures.
Symptoms after vaccination
Vaccination may cause symptoms such as redness at the injection site. Other problems may arise by chance and are unrelated to vaccination, such as a cold or gastroenteritis.
Most reactions are mild and short-lived. Local reactions may occur up to 8 days after vaccination. Reactions are less common in children under 12 and people over 55 years of age. They are most common after the second dose. For further information, please consult the Vaccine information sheets for population .
Safety of the vaccines
The COVID‑19 vaccines approved by Health Canada are safe. They have been tested in quality studies on a large number of people and have gone through all the necessary steps prior to approval. They must meet the same quality and safety standards as any other vaccine used in Canada. Experts closely monitor any adverse events that might occur after vaccination and take measures to ensure that these vaccines are safe and effective.
Last update: May 18, 2022