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COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Vaccines work.

The COVID-19 immunization program now underway in our country is the most significant Public Health initiative in history. Getting vaccinated is the first step towards a future without the daily threat of COVID-19 and we must take it together.

Our responsibility  

We have the privilege of caring for the most vulnerable people in our communities which comes with a great responsibility to protect their health and wellness. Hundreds of our residents and team members have already received the vaccine. 

Questions about the vaccine? 

Get the facts. Consult reliable sources such as Health Canada, the World Health Organization and the Public Health Agency of Canada. 

The COVID-19 vaccines available in our country have been approved by Health Canada in close collaboration with health partners here in Canada and around the world. Together they have determined this is an effective and essential line of defense in the fight against this virus. 

Below are questions and answers we have received from residents and employees in our communities. 

Occupational Health Team

If you are an employee and still have questions or concerns, our team of occupational health nurses are here for you. Send us an email and we will connect you with someone to answer your questions about the vaccine. 

Resources

Following are reliable sources of information about the COVID-19 vaccines available in Canada.


Questions and answers

Why should front line health care workers get vaccinated against COVID-19?

  1. It protects you

You are on the front lines of the nation’s fight against this deadly pandemic. By providing critical care to those who are or might be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, healthcare personnel have a high risk of being exposed to and getting sick with COVID-19.

  1. It protects health care capacity

When front line healthcare workers get sick with COVID-19, they are not able to work and provide care and service to residents. There is also the risk they will spread COVID-19 in their workplace. Given the critical role you play, your continued protection at work, at home, and in the community remains a national priority. 

  1. It helps prevent residents from getting COVID-19

Front line health care workers who get COVID-19 can also spread the virus to those they are caring for or their colleagues.

  1. Benefits of vaccination outweigh the possible risks

No serious health problems were reported by the tens of thousands of people who received their vaccines during clinical trials. The most common side effects were fatigue, headaches, chills, and muscle pain. Symptoms lasted about one day and most often occurred after the second dose. These reactions are a sign the vaccine is prompting an immune response.

I will not be getting this vaccine.  It has not been properly tested. Why should I take a risk?

Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine ensures you are doing everything you can to protect yourself and others from the virus. A vaccination could save your life or someone else’s. 

Approved COVID-19 vaccines have gone through a scientific evaluation which includes testing, human trials and post-approval surveillance.  Any vaccines administered in Canada have been reviewed and approved by Health Canada. They meet stringent safety, efficacy, and quality requirements. No major safety concerns have been identified and Health Canada will continue to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines closely.

I am sensitive to even the flu shot. How do I know this won’t make me sick? What are the side effects?

Side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine are similar to effects that you would feel from other vaccines. 

Side effects were mild or moderate including things like pain at the site of injection, body chills, feeling tired and feverish. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity. With all vaccines there is a chance that there may be a serious side effect, such as an allergic reaction, but it is rare. No major safety concerns have been identified at this time and Health Canada will continue to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines closely.

After receiving the vaccine, you will be monitored for 15 minutes after getting the vaccine to see if you have an immediate reaction. Most side effects happen within three days after vaccination and last only one or two days.

If I don’t receive the vaccine, will this affect my employment? Can Shannex force me to get it?

Shannex cannot force employees to receive a COVID-19. We highly encourage everyone that is able to get the vaccine to do so. We understand there are medical circumstances where staff may not be able to get vaccinated.

Is there anyone that should not get the vaccine?

Most people are eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine, although individuals with certain health conditions were not included in clinical trials. If you have any questions or concerns, you should have a conversation with your health care provider to help you decide if the COVID-19 vaccine is right for you. Public Health acknowledges that guidance may change as new information and evidence becomes available.   

Does the vaccine cause infertility?

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that the vaccine could cause infertility in women. In addition, infertility is not known to occur because of natural COVID-19 disease, further demonstrating that immune responses to the virus, whether induced by infection or a vaccine, are not a cause of infertility.

I just don’t feel like I know enough. How do I get more information?

When researching about COVID-19 vaccines, it is important to ensure that you are looking at a credible information source. With an excessive amount of COVID-19 information, it is important to identify trusted sources. We recommend the following: 

Remember, you can always contact your occupation health designate or a member of our clinical team to discuss any of your questions or concerns in more detail. 

Who is eligible for the vaccine?

Each province has created a COVID-19 immunization plan that identifies when different groups of people can receive their vaccine. To learn more about your province’s vaccine immunization plan and when you’ll be eligible to receive your vaccine visit your designated Public Health website. 

Nova Scotia’s immunization plan

New Brunswick’s immunization plan

Ontario’s immunization plan

I can’t get the vaccine because I do not meet screening criteria but I want to. How can I protect myself?

Continue following Public Health procedures such as social distancing, wearing masks, practice good hygiene, monitor your symptoms and stay home if you are sick.

Will we need to get them every year or only once?

Research is ongoing regarding how long the vaccine will protect an individual from COVID-19 for. Developers are looking at ways to boost the effectiveness of a vaccine so it provides longer immune protection than a natural infection with COVID-19.

Can a COVID-19 vaccine give you the virus?

No. Neither the mRNA vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) or the viral vector-based vaccines (AstraZeneca and Janssen) use the live virus that causes COVID-19. After immunization, you may develop symptoms that appear similar to COVID-19 but are negative for the virus. However, it does take a few weeks for your body to build immunity, so there is a chance you could become infected with the virus just before or after vaccination. Side effects of the vaccine should only last one or two days.

After I am vaccinated, do I have to follow Public Health protocols?

Yes. The vaccine takes a bit of time (sometimes up to three weeks) to become effective, so we need to follow the protocols even after receiving the vaccine. It is also unknown at this time if those vaccinated can still carry and transmit to others. Continuing to follow Public Health protocols is still very important.

I previously tested positive for COVID-19. Will I need to get a vaccine?

At this time there is not enough information to determine if/how long people who previously tested positive will remain immune to COVID-19.

Do the vaccines protect against COVID-19 variants?

Early research suggests that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines can provide protection against the COVID-19 variants identified in the U.K. and South Africa. Vaccine manufacturers are also looking into creating booster shots to improve protection against variants.

In clinical trials, the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine provided protection against severe disease with the COVID-19 virus caused by variants identified in South Africa and Brazil.

Oxford University announced that based on preliminary data, AstraZeneca is effective against the Brazilian variant.

What types of vaccines are there?

MRNA vaccines – Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are both this type of vaccine. When administered, this vaccine teaches our cells how to make protein that will trigger an immune response inside our bodies. This response then produces antibodies and in turn, protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters the body.

Viral vector-based vaccines – Both the Janssen and AstraZeneca vaccines are viral vector-based vaccines. They each contain a weakened version of a live virus – a different one than the one that causes COVID-19 but has genetic material from the virus that causes COVID-19 inserted in it. This is called a viral vector. Once the viral vector is inside our cells, our cells then create a protein that is unique to the virus that causes COVID-19 and allows our bodies to build antibodies that can help fight the virus if infected in the future.

Is one of the approved vaccines better than the others?

All vaccines were considered effective and approved by Health Canada as a critical part of our defense against COVID-19. Canada’s top doctors are encouraging individuals to get whichever vaccine is available to them.