If you have a fever or any other symptoms of COVID‑19, or if you have received instructions from Public Health to self-isolate because of COVID‑19, you must postpone getting vaccinated.
People 12 years of age and older can get the COVID‑19 vaccines unless contraindicated.
The vaccination is recommended as a priority for people with a higher risk of complications of COVID‑19, in particular people 70 years of age and older who live in residential and long-term care centres (CHSLDs). For more information, see Priority groups for vaccination.
When a person is given the COVID‑19 vaccine, 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 vaccines do not protect against colds and respiratory infections caused by other viruses, such as influenza.
Objectives of vaccination
COVID-19 vaccination is primarily aimed at reducing COVID-19 hospital admissions and deaths among people who are most at risk.
Vaccination should also help maintain health and social services activities and a return to a normal life as soon as possible.
Many studies conducted in Quebec and elsewhere have demonstrated that vaccines are highly effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths after two doses of vaccine, even for the Delta variant, which is now prevalent. Although the vaccine is slightly less effective against the Delta variant, it remains highly effective.
The Delta variant seems to spread more easily than the other variants. Vaccinated people might also spread the infection if they are infected by the Delta variant. In this context, it remains essential to maintain the basic health instructions (physical distancing, mask wearing and handwashing).
Description of the vaccines
Where to get vaccinated
Go the COVID-19 vaccination campaign page for the procedure to get vaccinated.
COVID-19 vaccination is free and conducted by the Québec Immunization Program. Doses are not available on the private market.
Any electronic communication or call offering to get vaccinated for a fee is fraudulent. You never have to provide your social insurance number (SIN) or your credit card number to get vaccinated.
Make your appointment on the Québec.ca/vaccinCOVID page to protect yourself from fraud. If you believe you have been the victim of a fraudulent communication, please notify the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre .
Previous efforts, particularly during the SARS epidemic in 2003, have advanced research on coronavirus vaccines and accelerated the development of COVID‑19 vaccines.
Clinical trials of some fifty COVID‑19 vaccines are currently underway around the world. It is an unprecedented scientific effort. To promote rapid vaccine development and meet all the regulatory requirements, considerable human and financial resources have been invested.
Public health and regulatory authorities in several countries, including Canada, are actively working to ensure that safe and effective COVID‑19 vaccines become available as quickly as possible.
Go to Vaccine development process page to learn more about the steps required to make a vaccine.
Various types of COVID‑19 vaccines are being studied:
These vaccines contain an RNA strand of one of the proteins found on the surface of the SARS‑CoV‑2 virus, which is responsible for COVID‑19. This strand of RNA serves as a “recipe” for the immune system to produce the protein. Since RNA is fragile, it is encased in a protective bubble of fat that allows it to penetrate the body and retain its shape until it enters human cells. Once it has entered, it provides the recipe for the cells to produce the protein. Then, the immune system will produce antibodies in response to the presence of this protein, which it recognizes as a virus.
These vaccines are very pure and do not contain any antibiotics or preservatives. The RNA fragment degrades rapidly after injection of the vaccine. There is no risk that this RNA will alter our genes.
Viral vector–based vaccines
These vaccines use genetically modified viruses that are harmless to humans to produce the S protein.
These vaccines contain non-infectious fragments of proteins or protein envelopes that mimic the envelope of the virus. Some contain an additional substance, called an adjuvant, that creates a more robust and longer-lasting immune response.
Safety of the vaccines
The COVID‑19 vaccines approved by Health Canada are safe. The vaccines were tested on a large number of people and have met all the requirements for approval.
COVID‑19 vaccines must meet the same quality and safety standards as any other vaccine used in Canada.
Once a vaccine has been approved, its safety is continuously monitored in order to detect very rare adverse reactions, if any. Canada and Québec have a very comprehensive system to ensure the safety of vaccines after they have been brought to market. Any unusual adverse effects reported are examined by experts to quickly identify any safety problems.
For each COVID-19 vaccine offered in Québec, 30,000 people are recruited and monitored to document any side effects severe enough to result in a medical consultation within 7 days of vaccination. All situations reported will be investigated. The frequency of side effects will be compared between people who have been vaccinated and people who have not been vaccinated and with their frequency in the three years prior to vaccination.
For the study, you will be asked for your email address when you make an appointment to get vaccinated. If you are selected to participate, you will receive an email from email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to complete a survey to monitor any unusual clinical signs or symptoms that occur after COVID-19 vaccination. You will not be asked for any identifying information. If you have an unusual clinical sign or symptom, you will be contacted again and may be asked to provide some information, such as your date of birth or health insurance number.
A minority of people experienced severe side effects after being vaccinated against COVID-19. According to available Canadian and Québec data, fewer than 1 person in 1,000 experience severe side effects. Anaphylaxis is the most commonly reported of all severe side effects. All those who experienced anaphylactic reactions have recovered. A few individuals have experienced thrombosis with thrombocytopenia related to vaccination with the AstraZeneca and Covishield vaccines in Québec. One of these people died as a result of this adverse event. Monitoring is ongoing.
Very few cases of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia have been observed after the 2nd dose (about 1 case in 600,000 for the 2nd dose compared to 1 case in 60,000 for the 1st dose).
Although side effects may occur shortly after a vaccine is administered, this does not mean that they are caused by the vaccine.
The vaccine you will be given will be determined based on available doses, expert recommendation and a clinical assessment at the time of vaccination. If you have concerns about the vaccine you are offered, discuss it with the health care professional responsible for doing your assessment when you arrive at the vaccination site. You can then make an informed decision.
It’s important to get all scheduled doses for the best protection against variants. All the available vaccines offer good protection against severe COVID-19 resulting in death or hospitalization.
For more information on the steps taken by Health Canada to evaluate vaccines, visit the page Regulating vaccines for human use in Canada on the Government of Canada website.
All the vaccines available are more than 80% effective against serious forms of COVID-19, which prevents hospital admissions and deaths.
In studies, RNA-based vaccines and viral vector-based vaccines triggered a good immune response against COVID-19, even in older adults.
Administration of the 2nd dose
To find out more about the administration of the 2nd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, go to the page Second dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
Administering an additional dose
For people with a weakened immune system or on dialysis, three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are necessary. For further information, see the Additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine page.
Vaccination for people who have had COVID-19
For people who have had COVID-19 confirmed by a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT), a single dose of the vaccine is required. The infection triggers the immune system's response the same way a 1st dose of the vaccine does. The dose of vaccine given to someone who has had COVID-19 has a booster effect the same way a 2nd dose of the vaccine does. It would be preferable to wait four weeks or more after diagnosis before being vaccinated.
For COVID-19 cases confirmed by epidemiological link (who have been contacted by their region’s public health authority to advise them of their status) or who have only received a positive result for a serological or antigenic test, two vaccine doses are necessary. The epidemiological link and serological or antigenic test cannot confirm beyond doubt that a person has had COVID-19. The administration of two doses is necessary to ensure that the person is adequately protected against COVID-19.
A person who has had COVID-19 may choose to receive a 2nd dose of the vaccine. Giving two doses of vaccine to someone who has had COVID-19 is not dangerous.
For people who had COVID-19 when they were given the 1st dose or in the days after they were vaccinated, two doses are required.
For people with a weakened immune system or on dialysis, three doses are necessary, regardless of whether they have had COVID-19. For further information, see the Additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine page.
Vaccination for travellers
People who have had two doses of Covishield, or two doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, or a dose of one and a dose of the other, or a dose of one of these vaccines and then a dose of another RNA vaccine (either Pfizer or Moderna) are well protected against COVID-19. In Québec these individuals are considered to be adequately protected, but this is not the case in all countries. Indeed, there is no international consensus on what is valid proof of “adequate vaccination”.
Exceptionally, people who are required to get an additional dose of an RNA vaccine can get one in a vaccination centre, if required to travel outside the country. These individuals must go to a walk-in clinic.
This is an exceptional measure. Each person must be properly guided to be informed of the potential risks associated with the additional dose, compared to the benefits of the planned trip. At this time, no study has assessed the impact of such an additional dose.
Impacts of variants
Variants are a natural phenomenon that occurs when the virus multiplies and undergoes mutations. Most mutations are of no concern. A new variant is not necessarily more dangerous than the virus was before the mutation.
A mutation may change a virus to the point of making it unrecognizable to the immune system and making the vaccine that fights it less effective.
The available vaccines are effective against the various known variants.
Conditions for postponing vaccination
If you have a fever or any other symptoms of COVID-19, or if you have received instructions from public health to self-isolate because of COVID-19, you must postpone getting vaccinated.
Symptoms after vaccination
Some reactions may occur following vaccination:
COVID-19 vaccination - American Sign Language (ASL)
Last update: September 27, 2021