COVID-19 Vaccine - Answers for Patients

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

With COVID-19 vaccines currently being administered in BC, many of you will have questions about the vaccine – is it safe; is it effective and more.

We hope that the following information answers some of those questions as BC’s Immunization Plan rolls out across our province.

Detailed Qs and As are available for the public on COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions | Immunize BC

The information on this web page is based on updates from the BCCDC, and the provincial government.


Can I mix vaccines for my first and second dose?

Yes, it is safe and effective to interchange vaccines, either between mRNA vaccines (Pfizer, and Moderna) or interchanging mRNA with viral vector vaccines (AstraZeneca, COVISHELD, or Johnson & Johnson). Although, as with all vaccines, it is preferable to have the same vaccine for both doses.

For those who received a first dose of AstraZeneca, there will be a choice in what comes next::

  • You can receive a second dose of AstraZeneca at least eight weeks after your first dose through your pharmacy. Those who received their first AstraZeneca dose in March/April will soon be contacted by a pharmacy to schedule a second vaccine appointment.
  • Or you can receive either Pfizer or Moderna as your second dose at least eight weeks after your first AstraZeneca shot. This would take place at one of the mass immunization clinics in the province. You can book your appointment online through the Immunization BC platform. Most British Columbians are registered, regardless of which vaccine was initially received. If not, you will need to register before you can book an appointment
I am 12-17 years old. Do I need a parent/guardian to register me or provide consent to get the vaccine? 

You can go to your appointment by yourself, make plans with friends to get appointments at the same time, or ask a parent or trusted adult to help you. Under the Infants Act, you can give consent as a mature minor to receive health care, such as getting a vaccine.

If I have children, can I book a family vaccination appointment?

Yes. Register all children born in 2009 or earlier (12+) in your household or group who need to get vaccinated. Following registration, you only need to book one appointment.

For example, if you have a 13 year old and a 16 year old needing to be vaccinated, register both. When you get a booking notification for either child, only book one appointment. Take both children to the appointment and both will get vaccinated. 

You can also book separate appointments for each child if that is your preference.

For more details about booking appointments as a family, visit the BC government website.


Who should seek further advice before getting the vaccine?

It is recommended that the following people consult with their health care provider to discuss if the benefits are greater than the possible risks from the COVID-19 vaccine. People who:

  • Have an immune system weakened by disease or medical treatment
  • Have an autoimmune disease
  • Are pregnant, may be pregnant or are planning to become pregnant
  • Are breastfeeding
  • Have had a severe allergic reaction to the first dose of the vaccine or any of the ingredients in the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccine.

Recommendations may change as more evidence on safety and/or effectiveness in these populations becomes available.

Are the vaccines safe?
  • COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada have followed the same extensive testing as every other vaccine. No steps were skipped.
  • Faster funding and worldwide collaboration have meant the vaccines were able to be developed much more quickly.  
  • The clinical trials and safety reviews actually took about the same amount of time as other vaccines. 
  • It should be recognized that risks of the virus are significant, and far outweigh the possibility of serious side effects from the vaccination.
  • For more information, check out our article COVID-19 vaccines:are they safe?
Should women who are pregnant and/or breastfeeding get the vaccine?

The response to this question can be found here.

How successful are the vaccines in protecting people from the virus?

The COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada, requiring either one or two doses, provide excellent protection against the COVID-19 virus, preventing up to 95% of infections and serious illness.

What side-effects can I expect after the vaccine?
  • Common reactions to the vaccine may include soreness, redness and swelling where the vaccine was given. Other reactions include tiredness, headache, fever, chills, muscle or joint soreness, and nausea. These reactions are mild and generally last one to two days.
  • These common reactions are not an allergic reaction, but signs that your body’s immune system is responding – in a good way – to the vaccine.
  • If you have concerns about any symptoms you develop after receiving the vaccine speak with your health care provider or call 8-1-1 for advice.