BC COVID-19 Immunization Plan  Translated Information

If you have any additional questions than the ones below about the COVID-19 Vaccinations, please visit BCCDC COVID-19 Immunizations.

WHEN CAN I GET VACCINATED?

Anyone age 12+ (born 2009 or earlier) is now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine in British Columbia. Please register online to receive your invitation to book the soonest appointment available closest to you.

If you are pregnant or classified as clinically extremely vulnerable and born in 2005 or earlier (16+) you are also eligible for vaccine at any time.

HOW DO I BOOK A COVID-19 VACCINE IN BC?
  • Everyone in BC should follow the Three Steps to Get Vaccinated
  • Once you have registered, you will be provided with an appointment at one of the registered immunization clinics, located in more than 170 communities around B.C.  
  • If you have been vaccinated already in BC through a pharmacy please register online so you can receive your invitation for dose 2 when the recommended time interval has passed as promptly as possible.
HOW WILL I ACCESS MY SECOND DOSE OF COVID-19 VACCINE IN BC?

If you received your first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine in a pharmacy, you will have the choice to either access a second dose of AstraZeneca at least eight weeks later through that same pharmacy (they are receiving product between June 3-7 and will be contacting people in the coming days) OR you can choose to receive an mRNA product like Pfizer or Moderna through the provincial mass clinic system. Click here to confirm you are registered in the system and you will be offered an invitation eight weeks after your first dose as an alternative option. You can find great resources on how to make your choice here.

If you received your first dose of an mRNA product prior to the launch of the provincial registration system on April 6, 2021, follow the instructions to confirm your information is in the system so you receive your second dose invitation at the eight week minimum mark. Anyone registered in the system will receive an invitation to book your second dose appointment the same as you did for dose 1.

CAN I GET VACCINATED ON-CAMPUS?

As of May 14, 2021, community vaccine providers, like our Langley Campus Wellness Center, have not yet been integrated into the BC COVID-19 Vaccine plan. At this point mass clinics are provided in 170+ locations as well as in pharmacies across the province. We have been told to expect Post-Secondary Institutions will be supported with on-site vaccine at some point and are awaiting further details.

I’M IMMUNOCOMPROMISED. WHEN CAN I GET THE VACCINE?

If you are clincally extremely vulnerable and between the ages of 16-74, you will receive a patient invitation letter by mail, inviting you to book your vaccine. To determine if you are eligible and how to book your vaccine, visit BC Vaccines for the Clinically Extrememly Vulnerable.

CAN INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS RECEIVE A COVID-19 VACCINE? IS THE VACCINE FREE?

Yes! COVID-19 vaccines will be free and available to anyone who and resides in Canada over the course of 2021 in accordance with your regional COVID-19 vaccination plan. For more information, click COVID-19 Vaccines in Public Health.  For international students residing in BC, you will be eligible based on age group or priority group same as anyone living in the province.

WHAT COVID-19 VACCINES ARE AVAILABLE IN CANADA?

There are currently 4 vaccines approved for use in Canada:

1.     Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine 

2.     Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine 

3.     AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine

4.     Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine – the only product currently approved in Canada as a 1-dose series.

CAN I GET THE VACCINE IF I HAVE HAD, OR CURRENTLY HAVE, COVID-19?

If you are currently experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, you should wait until you have recovered to be immunized and are out of isolation (BCCDC Vaccine Considerations). The CDC recommends that people who have had COVID-19 should be immunized with the COVID-19 Vaccine if they are not currently symptomatic.

WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER THE VACCINE?

You may experience side effects from the vaccine 1-2 days after receiving it, such as pain or swelling at the site of injection, fever, chills, tiredness or fatigue. If these symptoms persist, take the BC Covid Self Assessment and follow instructions. For more information on what to expect after your vaccine, visit BCCDC After Vaccine Care.

I GOT THE FIRST DOSE OF THE COVID-19 VACCINE, BUT I’M NOT SCHEDULED FOR A SECOND DOSE. AM I STILL IMMUNE?

Growing scientific evidence confirms even the first ‘priming’ dose of the COVID-19 vaccine provides strong protection; the second ‘booster’ dose ensures longer-lasting robust protection. Because of this, BC is offering the second dose of the vaccine to be 4 months after your first dose, allowing more people to be vaccinated more quickly. For more information, see BCCDC COVID-19 Vaccine.

I GOT THE COVID-19 VACCINE. DO I STILL HAVE TO FOLLOW PUBLIC HEALTH GUIDELINES LIKE SOCIAL DISTANCING AND QUARANTINE MEASURES?

Yes! At this time, as the majority of the population remains unimmunized, even if you have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, it is still important that you continue to follow public health recommendations, such as frequent handwashing, wearing a mask, and physical distancing. This also means that at this time, you must still follow Self Quarantine Protocols if you travel or have been exposed to COVID-19. For more information, visit BCCDC COVID-19 Vaccine Monitoring.  

GENERAL COVID-19 VACCINE FAQ

VACCINE SAFETY

Can I get COVID-19 from any of the vaccines?

No, you cannot get COVID-19 from these vaccines. None of the approved vaccines include live COVID-19 virus as an ingredient. Rather they focus on helping the body acquire immunity against the spike protein found on the outside of the virus (SARS-CoV-2), which it normally uses to attach to a person’s cells. Vaccines teach the body to detect and block the protein so if a vaccinated person is exposed to SARS-CoV-2, their body will recognize and stop its spike protein from attaching to the cells, thereby preventing infection.

People may experience side effects from the vaccine that are similar to mild forms of COVID-19 symptoms like fatigue, fever, and muscle aches. These side effects are signs that the body is working well to develop immunity mostly related to the inflammatory process. The full immune response takes up to 2-3 weeks for most people. No vaccine is 100% effective, and so in rare cases it is possible for persons to become infected when exposed to COVID-19 even after they are fully vaccinated. This is called breakthrough infection. However, in these cases the risk of serious illness, hospitalization and death is dramatically reduced due to the presence of vaccine in the body.

As COVID-19 vaccines do not contain the SARS-CoV-2 virus and vaccinated persons are not infected with the virus, therefore the vaccine itself cannot cause someone to spread any virus to others.

https://immunizebc.ca/ask-us/questions/can-i-get-covid-19-vaccine 

See how COVID-19 infects a cell using the spike protein: https://www.scripps.edu/covid-19/science-simplified/how-the-novel-coronavirus-infects-a-cell/index.html

Are there expected long-term side effects of any of the COVID-19 vaccines? How can we be confident there’s not concerns as it has been in circulation such a short time

Vaccines have been in use for many years with rare or no long-term adverse side effects. We anticipate the same for COVID-19 vaccines, based on understanding how vaccines work in general. As with all vaccines or medical treatments, any side effects are closely monitored regularly. Canada has a strong track record of rigorously monitoring for Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFIs), which is a key part of tracking both vaccine safety and effectiveness. Vaccine safety is built on extensive lab trials and real-world human trials over time. Normally experts require a critical mass of millions of doses to be delivered, in order to have the data necessary to make certain claims about vaccine safety and effectiveness. What is unique about the COVID-19 vaccine is more than 1.36 Billion doses have been delivered to people in a matter of months. Such a milestone would typically take much longer. We have accumulated more data, from more places around the world, at a much faster rate than normal.

There have been some reports of concerning health outcomes (Ex. blood clots or bleeding events) following vaccination with some of the viral vector products, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. These reports have included a very small number of deaths within the 28 days after vaccination; in Canada, as of May 7, 2021, there have been 2 deaths associated with these reports, both in individuals who received one of the more than 2.1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine administered.

While short-term side effects are not unusual and the majority of AEFIs resolve quickly, all side effects are investigated according to national standards. In Canada usually the most concerning AEFI is anaphylaxis. This remains very rare; the highest rate among the different COVID-19 vaccines is 30/1,000,000 doses. This is partly why all people who receive vaccines are required to be observed for at least 15 minutes following immunization as this is the most likely time for anaphylaxis to occur.

Immunize BC

I’ve seen people say on social media that the COVID-19 vaccine can affect my fertility in the future, is that true?

There is no evidence (or strong scientific theory) to suggest that any of the COVID-19 vaccines can affect fertility - female or male.

Initial vaccine trials did not specifically focus on fertility or pregnant populations, although no evidence of complications or concerns was reported. Follow up studies have included pregnant women and have affirmed safety data for this population. However, there have been higher rates of negative outcomes in pregnant women who contract COVID-19 disease. For that reason, in many places, including in British Columbia, pregnant women are prioritized for vaccine access. Anyone who is pregnant, trying to get pregnant or has concerns is encouraged to speak to their health care provider.

https://sunnybrook.ca/content/?page=pregnancy-breastfeeding-fertility-covid-19-vaccine

What is Vaccine-induced Immune Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia (VIIT)? Are there certain people more at risk for developing blood clots after vaccination?

Vaccine-induced Immune Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia is defined as a blood clot and/or bleeding event in the 4-30 days following a vaccination. It is a very rare occurrence and is a “safety signal” being closely monitored for with the COVID-19 vaccine. Of the COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada, the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD products have had some of these events reported around the world at a rate of 1 in 100,000 doses. This remains a much lower rate of risk compared to that of developing serious illness or adverse outcomes from COVID-19 disease for most people. While age remains a significant predictive indicator of risk for these poor outcomes, it is not the only contributing factor; people of all ages, with or without underlying conditions, have been hospitalized, admitted to ICUs, died and/or reported long-term side effects of being infected with COVID-19.

As of May 12, 2021 AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccines are authorized for use in people 30 years of age and older as there does seem to be a slightly higher incidence of these rare blood clots/bleeding events in people less than 30. Moving forward, AstraZeneca will only be offered in BC as a second dose. Overall, there have been more reports of VIIT in women than men but that varies when other variables like age are factored in. Per BCCDC, at this time there does not appear to be other risk factors that increase the chance of this outcome for individuals, specifically there does not seem to be elevated risk for people who have had a history of other blood clotting events.

Vaccine Efficacy

How do the two general types of vaccines (mRNA & viral vector platforms) work to protect me from getting COVID?

A vaccine is a less harmful piece of a germ or something created to look or behave like it, that is introduced into the person’s body to stimulate the immune system. The body’s immune system develops antibodies against this piece and keeps a “record” so that the body can respond much faster and more aggressively to fight the real infection. The immune system can “recognize” and “remember” how to fight the infection because it has been primed by the vaccine. Many vaccines against SARs-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) are based on the spike proteins of the virus which enable it to infect other cells.

Four vaccines have been approved for use in Canada. These vaccines use slightly different platforms to introduce the body to the viral spike protein. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use messenger RNA (mRNA)to carry the genetic information for making the spike protein in the body. When the mRNA is introduced into the body, the body uses this mRNA to make viral spike proteins. The AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines on the other hand use viral vectors to introduce the genetic material into the body. The viral vectors are produced from viruses that cause common colds and sore throats. These vectors have been rendered harmless and modified to carry genes for making SARs -CoV-2 spike proteins. Upon synthesis of the spike proteins, the body responds by making antibodies against the spike proteins.

http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/covid-19-vaccine/vaccines-for-covid-19

To watch how the mRNA vaccines work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbaCxIJ_VP4 (Source: Harvard University).

Why do some COVID-19 vaccines require two doses and others do not?

Vaccination supports the body to develop immunity against a virus. This process can provide short-term and/or long-term protection. With vaccines such as those for Hepatitis B, Measles and Polio, the first dose acts as an introduction to the process of creating immunity – it provides some immediate protection and importantly primes the person’s system to be ready to increase that immunity at the next exposure. The second dose of vaccine – often referred to as a booster – provides a person’s immune system with another prompt to continue to build immunity. Because it has already created the cellular process following the first dose, the body is more efficient and more productive, resulting in the creation of more antibodies and longer-term protection.

Multi-dose vaccine series are based on the foundation of prime and boost with different products offering different lengths of protection. For example, most people will not require more doses of Measles vaccine after the initial 2-dose series, whereas Tetanus vaccines need to be boosted every 7-10 years.

The Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccines rely on 2-dose series to achieve the protection desired, whereas the J&J Janssen vaccine requires only a single dose. Each of these vaccines has demonstrated effectiveness at protecting people from COVID-19 and reducing the spread (transmission of COVID-19. Most encouraging is that each has demonstrated significant effectiveness in preventing serious disease, death and hospitalization.

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/covid19-industry/drugs-vaccines-treatments/vaccines.html 

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-vaccines-infographic

Will current vaccines be effective in providing protection from different variant strains of COVID-19? Will we require booster doses in the future?

Research is ongoing regarding the level of protection currently offered by vaccines. This includes research into vaccines for newer and future variants of COVID-19; we expect the virus to mutate. As new variants (mutations) arise, scientific experts examine the variant to see which parts of the virus mutate; different changes can impact the efficacy of the vaccines differently. Variants of concern appear to be more easily spread (transmitted). So far, existing vaccines have proven effective against variants in terms of supporting a person’s immune system to reduce the overall risk of infection, and to prevent serious disease and death. This is good news! Scientists are working on methods to reformulate current vaccines should further booster doses or different versions be needed.

https://directorsblog.nih.gov/2021/05/04/a-real-world-look-at-covid-19-vaccines-versus-new-variants/

https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/the-effects-of-virus-variants-on-covid-19-vaccines

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/a-new-strain-of-coronavirus-what-you-should-know

VACCINE DEVELOPMENT & ETHICAL QUESTIONS

This is a new vaccine made in less than 12 months, considering vaccines often take 10-15 years to develop, test and bring to market, how was this achieved safely?

Vaccine development always goes through multiple phases. These are designed to ensure maximum efficacy and minimum risk; a process that typically takes time. The research is costly and one of the largest barriers to timely development is funding. Usually, scientists have to do one step at a time, not because linear completion of clinical trials is required or best practice, but because they don’t have enough money to do it all at once. Between each step, research teams are usually forced to pause and raise the funds needed for the next stage, extending study duration even further.

The global impact of COVID-19 brought the research community and the funding sources together in a way we haven’t seen before. The pandemic brought all the world’s attention to this work which brought together expertise, massive funding and public support. Behind the scenes was decades of prior research that also contributed to the swift market introduction of an effective and safe product. The scientific community had already done a lot of work studying coronaviruses and the platforms used – the mRNA and Viral Vector – were already being used in other vaccines with demonstrated safety and efficacy data. All of this, in combination with the collective sense of urgency, supported energetic trial enrollment by the public, further supporting this compressed timeline.

Ultimately, the COVID-19 vaccine development was compressed into the shortest time allowable, while maintaining the rigorous scientific standards for safety and efficacy, through fully investing in the existing work, bringing together international experts and the support of the general public.

Can the mRNA in the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines change my DNA?

No, the mRNA used in Pfizer or Moderna cannot change your own DNA. It does not enter the nucleus of your cells where your DNA is stored and protected. The genetic code enclosed in the mRNA is specifically for the making of spike protein to help the body’s immune system recognize SARS-CoV-2 if/when actually exposed. Even if it were to somehow come into contact with the cell’s DNA, the mRNA used does not have the biological capacity to re-write DNA and it is unstable in human cells and does not last very long.

https://immunizebc.ca/ask-us/questions/covid-19/can-mrna-vaccine-alter-someones-dna-0

Was fetal tissue used in the development of COVID-19 vaccines?

There are no fetal cells in the mRNA vaccines.

The Viral Vector Vaccines themselves do not contain any fetal cells. However, the process needed to replicate the inactive adenovirus, used cells originally isolated from fetal tissue from two fetuses terminated between 1970-1985. The inactive adenovirus is used in the vaccine to deliver the instructions on how to recognize SARS-CoV-2. This is a necessary step in producing this type of vaccine because viruses do not have the ability to replicate on their own. That is, viruses require the machinery in a cell to do this function. The fetal “cell lines” involved have been maintained in lab settings since they were initially retrieved (i.e. sometime before 1985). No fetal cells have been retrieved for this purpose since 1985.

The use of fetal cell lines that originated with tissue from terminated fetuses is a challenging topic for many people including Christians. There are numerous excellent resources that address the principles of faith and science on this and other challenging ethical questions. Below is a selection of high-quality print as well as audio/visual resources from a range of sources endorsed by TWU faculty and staff for you to equip yourself with the information you need.

FAITH & SCIENCE COVID-19 VACCINE RESOURCES

TWU Faith & Science Club Forum on COVID-19. Featuring Biology professors Dr. Anthony Siame & Dr. Dennis Venema, and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Dr. Todd Martin (April 2021)

Taking the Vaccine: Right or Wrong? From the Think Biblically podcast featuring Dr. Scott Rae, Old Testament Scholar, theologian and professor of Christian Ethics, Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology and Dr. Sean McDowell, author and associate professor of Christian Apologetics, Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology. 

COVID-19 Vaccine: What you need to know. Focus on the Family Broadcast featuring infectious disease specialists Dr. Daniel Hinthorn & Dr. Scott James from the Focus on the Family Physician Research Council.

Scientific and Spiritual Lessons in the time of COVID, a conversation hosted by the American Scientific Affiliation with Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the US National Institutes of Health.

Statement by the Archdiocese of Vancouver (includes note from the Holy See note).