Page last updated: July 4, 2022
COVID-19 vaccines for individuals ages 5 and over may be given at the same time as, or any time before or after, other vaccines, including live, non-live, adjuvanted or unadjuvanted vaccines.
Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?
The COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved in Canada have undergone various levels of trials, followed all appropriate scientific processes and due diligence. All safety protocols have been followed in the approval process, and there have been no compromises in making the vaccine available to the general public. Vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to protect you and those around you from serious illnesses like COVID-19.
Only vaccines that are proven to be safe, effective, and of high quality will be approved for use in Canada. Learn about COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for use in Canada, the safety of these COVID-19 vaccines, and vaccine authorization updates.
Are COVID-19 Vaccines Safe for Kids and Youth?
The COVID-19 vaccine has been thoroughly tested through rigorous clinical trials where thousands of people receive the vaccine. The effectiveness of the vaccine, as well as any adverse effects, are reported. At this time, Health Canada has determined that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is safe for youth aged 5 and over. As per NACI recommendations, Moderna (50mcg dose) may be offered as an alternative to Pfizer-BioNTech for 6-11 year olds, however the use of Pfizer-BioNTech is preferred to Moderna (50 mcg) to start or continue the primary series.
Individuals age 5 and older are eligible to receive their COVID-19 vaccine. Children become eligible for the vaccine on their 5th birthday. For clinic dates and times, visit the Booking and Eligibility page.
For more information about the safety of COVID-19 vaccine for kids and youth, and helpful resources for youth and their families, visit our COVID-19 Vaccination for Kids and Youth page.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe if I am pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to conceive?
Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to conceived are strongly advised to stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines.
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) strongly supports the use of all available COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada. You can make a choice to protect yourself, and protect your baby through COVID-19 vaccination.
Emerging evidence shows that pregnant individuals are at an increased risk of complications related to COVID-19. Vaccination can give someone who is pregnant the best possible protection against the virus, which is critical in protecting the health of a developing baby.
Pregnant women who contract COVID-19 are;
- Five times more likely to be hospitalized and spend 3.73 days longer in hospital;
- 10 times more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU);
- More likely to suffer from severe illness;
- More likely to require ventilation/life support breathing.
HPEPH understands that people who are pregnant want to make the best possible choice to keep their baby safe. Real studies on pregnant women who have received mRNA vaccine find no evidence to suggest it is unsafe to do so, and the benefits of the protection offered through the vaccine outweigh any potential risks.
Women who are breastfeeding, and those who plan to conceive, are also advised to stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine while breastfeeding is safe, effective and highly recommended. Getting vaccinated while breastfeeding will not harm your baby, but could protect them through antibodies transmitted through breastmilk. If you are planning on becoming pregnant, getting vaccinated against COVID-19 before getting pregnant will provide critical protection that can help reduce your risk of serious illness related to COVID-19 during pregnancy.
Still have questions? Check out the resources provided below, or callour CARELine to speak to a public health nurse at 613-966-5500 or 1-800-267-2803, ext. 223. You can also email the CARELine at CARELine@hpeph.ca.
- Vax Facts – Book a consultation with a doctor from the Scarborough Health Network
- FAQ COVID-19 Vaccination and Fertility – HPEPH
- COVID-19 Vaccines and Pregnancy – Ontario.ca
- COVID-19 Vaccines for People Who Would Like to Have a Baby – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive? Answers to your COVID-19 vaccine questions – Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
- The Ministry of Health’s decision-making tool – Ontario.ca
Is it safe to get a third or booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Staying up to date with vaccines means a person has received all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses, including any booster dose(s) when eligible. Evidence from clinical trials suggests that a booster dose provides good short-term effectiveness against COVID-19. Possible risks of a booster dose are similar to those of a second dose, including very low risk of myocarditis and pericarditis. All individuals who are eligible for a third or booster dose are encouraged to take advantage of this additional protection, unless otherwise advised by their health care provider. For information about eligibility, please visit our Bookings and Eligibility page.
Is it safe to receive a different brand of vaccine for my second dose, or my booster dose?
HPEPH clinics may offer Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to eligible individuals based on availability. All COVID-19 vaccines available in the province, have been determined to be safe and effective by Health Canada, and have been shown to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death associated with COVID-19. Please note that Medicago is not currently approved for booster doses in Canada.
You can also check out this great resource from the Ministry of Health for information on the safety of mixing vaccines.
Why should I get vaccinated?
Vaccines provide immunity and protect us, and those around s, from contracting and spreading illness.
It is critical to stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, so that you can protect yourself, your family, friends, and community from the infection. Widespread vaccination is essential to improve community immunity and end the pandemic. Even if you are not concerned about the virus, getting vaccinated will help stop the spread and protect those you love, who may be more vulnerable to severe illness or death. If you are eligible for a third dose or a booster dose, you are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this additional protection.
Should I be concerned about potential side effects?
Potential mild side effects of COVID-19 vaccines include mild reactions such as headache, fever, fatigue or pain at the injection site. The long term protection of COVID-19 vaccine far outweighs any potential short term side effects.
While the COVID-19 vaccines have been developed in a short time frame they have undergone the protocols of various levels of trials, following scientific processes and due diligence. All safety protocols have been followed and there have been no compromises in making the vaccine available to the general public.
For more information, review the Facts About Vaccines, from Health Canada.
When and where can I get vaccinated?
Visit our Bookings and Eligibility page for information about vaccination opportunities.
- Understanding COVID-19 Vaccines – HPEPH
- Vaccination Recommendations for Priority Populations (including pregnant and immunocompromised) – Ontario Ministry of Health
- Pregnancy Decision Toolkit – Ministry of Health
- Decision Aid for Getting a Vaccine – Canadian Rheumatology Association
- What You Need to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines – First Nations Health Authority
- COVID-19 Vaccines in Ontario – Ontario Ministry of Health
- COVID-19: How vaccines are developed – Public Health Agency of Canada
- COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Individuals that received a first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine/COVISHIELD vaccine – Ministry of Health
- Book a phone consultation with a doctor from the Scarborough Health Network to answer your questions about COVID-19 vaccines through VaxFacts.
Please check back for regular updates as more details are available.