About the COVID-19 vaccine

The following information was developed for Labatt by medical professionals and public health experts using Canadian government and other scientific and medical sources.

It is not intended as medical advice. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.

Why is immunization important?

Vaccination against the virus that causes COVID-19 will help protect you from getting sick with COVID-19. Also, to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Canada, sufficient numbers of Canadians need to be vaccinated to slow and hopefully stop community transmission of the virus. Once enough Canadians have received the vaccine, things can return to normal again.

Do I have to pay for the COVID-19 vaccine?

No, all COVID-19 vaccines are free.

Can I get two different types of COVID-19 vaccine for my first and second doses?

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) and Health Canada recommend that the same vaccine be used for both doses. There is insufficient information on whether a second dose with a different vaccine will provide the same degree of protection.

Can I choose which COVID-19 vaccine I receive?

No, recipients will not be able to choose between different COVID-19 vaccines, but can choose to receive or decline the vaccine offered to them at the vaccination clinic. All vaccines are highly effective against symptomatic COVID-19 infection. It is recommended that people get the first vaccine that is available to them.

How effective is the vaccine in preventing COVID-19?

According to Health Canada, and based on clinical trials involving tens of thousands of vaccine recipients:

Pfizer-BioNTech 95% effective after two doses

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

Moderna 94% effective after two doses

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

AstraZeneca 62% effective after two doses (79% in North/South American studies)

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

Johnson & Johnson 66% effective after one dose

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

All four vaccines are highly effective in preventing severe COVID-19, hospitalization and death.

Why do some of the COVID-19 vaccines require two separate doses?

The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines all require two separate doses. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose. The reason for this is the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines were only studied for use as a two-dose vaccine. The high level of effectiveness of these three vaccines is based on a two-dose schedule. For the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, clinical studies show that it is effective after just one dose.

What is the difference between the COVID-19 vaccines and how do they work?

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. These types of vaccines use lab-manufactured mRNA to deliver instructions to immune cells telling them to make a harmless piece of the spike protein – a protein found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus. Once the protein piece is made, the cell breaks down the mRNA and gets rid of it. The protein piece then moves to the cell’s surface, where our immune system recognizes that it doesn’t belong and triggers our body to make antibodies and to activate other immune cells. These antibodies and immune cells protect us if the real COVID-19 virus enters our body in the future.

The AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are viral vector vaccines. These vaccines use a harmless virus (like the common cold virus) that has been weakened and then modified by adding a piece of the COVID-19 virus’s spike protein. The same process takes place as with mRNA vaccines above, triggering our body to make antibodies and to activate other immune cells. 

All of the COVID-19 vaccines – by creating antibodies and by activating our immune system – teach our bodies how to protect us against any future infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Which COVID-19 vaccines are approved for use in Canada?

Health Canada has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccines for use in Canada.