COVID-19 Vaccine

About the Vaccine

More than one vaccine is being developed for COVID-19. In total, the federal government has agreements to access seven different COVID-19 vaccines, including Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca/Covishield.

Pfizer (ComirnatyTM) and Moderna (SpikevaxTM) Vaccines

The first vaccine approved for use in Canada on December 9, 2020 is made by Pfizer-BioNTech. It now has a brand name of ComirnatyTM.
Another vaccine, made by Moderna, was authorized on December 23, 2020. It now has a brand name of SpikevaxTM.

For more information: Pfizer Vaccine
For more information: Moderna Vaccine

AstraZeneca (VaxzevriaTM) /Covishield

The AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD was approved for use in Canada on Feb. 26, 2021. This vaccine has different storage requirements than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, which make it easier to transport and store. These vaccine doses will primarily be used to provide COVID-19 vaccines in doctors’ offices and pharmacies.It now has a brand name of VaxzevriaTM. Locations that offer this vaccine can be located on the Vaccine Finder Province of Manitoba | Vaccine Finder

For more information: AstraZeneca/Covishield Vaccine

Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) Vaccine

The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine was approved for use in Canada in March 5, 2021. This vaccine is only available at doctors offices and pharmacies who have requested supply. Locations that offer this vaccine can be located on the Vaccine Finder Province of Manitoba | Vaccine Finder

For more information: : Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine


Novavax/NuvaxovidTM  is a COVID-19 protein subunit vaccine. It was approved for use in Canada in February 2022 for adults aged 18 and older. This vaccine is only available at doctors offices and pharmacies that have requested supply, which will be listed on the Vaccine Finder Province of Manitoba | Vaccine Finder Province of Manitoba | Vaccine Finder

For more information: : Novavax/NuvaxovidTM  COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Adults

VISP - Vaccine Injury Support Program

The Public Health Agency of Canada has established a Vaccine Injury Support Program (VISP) in partnership with provinces and territories. While serious side effects are very rare, this program ensures anyone who experiences a serious side effect or injury because of the COVID-19 vaccine will be able to seek financial support.

The VISP is now accepting claims. People in Canada who have experienced a serious and permanent injury after receiving a Health Canada authorized vaccine, administered in Canada, on or after December 8, 2020 can submit a claim requesting financial support.

For more information on the VISP, and how to submit your claim please visit:


More information:

Procuring vaccines for COVID-19 - Government of Canada
Drug and vaccine authorizations for COVID-19 - Government of Canada

Viral Vector Vaccine Questions and Answer

There are two COVID-19 viral vector vaccines approved for use in Canada:

  • AstraZeneca/VaxzevriaTM  COVID-19 vaccine
  • Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine

For information about how viral vector-based vaccines work, go to:

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization preferentially recommends the use of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in all authorized age groups. This is because of the better effectiveness of mRNA vaccines and the rare risk of certain serious side effects with viral vector vaccines. (Please see section on side effects for more information.)

Following a discussion with a doctor or pharmacist about the risks and benefits of vaccination, adults aged 18 years and older can receive a COVID-19 viral vector vaccine (AstraZeneca/VaxzevriaTM  or Jansen). This is only if a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine (Pfizer/ComirnatyTM  or Moderna/SpikevaxTM ) and a COVID-19 protein subunit vaccine (Novavax/NuvaxovidTM ) are contraindicated.

The COVID-19 viral vector vaccines are available in Manitoba in select doctors' offices and pharmacies (while supplies last). To find a location nearest you that offers a viral vector vaccine, access the COVID-19 & Influenza (Flu) Vaccine Finder at:

Yes. Studies have shown a range of effectiveness depending on study design and population. Data from clinical trials and real-world use suggests that the viral vector vaccines may be comparatively less protective than the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer/ComirnatyTM  and Moderna/SpikevaxTM .

Yes. Like all vaccines authorized for use in Canada, the COVID-19 viral vector vaccines are held to high safety, effectiveness and quality standards. After approval of a vaccine, Health Canada continues to monitor the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.

In general, the side effects observed during the clinical trials were similar to those of other vaccines. The side effects were generally mild or moderate, and went away a few days after vaccination. These are common side effects of vaccines and are not a risk to your health. They include:

  • pain, redness, itchiness, swelling and/or a warm feeling at the injection site
  • body chills
  • feeling tired and feverish
  • headache
  • muscle and joint pain
  • nausea and vomiting

Over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (e.g., Advil®) may be considered to help manage these symptoms (like pain or fever, respectively), if they occur after vaccination.

As with all vaccines, serious side effects are possible following vaccination with the viral vector vaccines (AstraZeneca/VaxzevriaTM and Janssen). However, these serious side effects are rare, and include:

  • Blood clots with low platelets (known as Vaccine-Induced Immune Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia, or VITT). VITT can be serious, resulting in death, if not diagnosed and treated early. Note: Blood clots can also occur anywhere in the body even with normal levels of blood platelets. There have been cases of blood clots in the brain (cerebrovascular venous and sinus thrombosis) following vaccination with AztraZeneca/VaxzevriaTM ;. Blood clots in deep veins such as the groin, legs or arms (venous thromboembolism) have been reported after vaccination with Janssen. Signs and symptoms of blood clots include:
    • shortness of breath
    • chest pain
    • leg swelling or pain
    • persistent abdominal pain
    • neurological symptoms including sudden onset of severe or persistent worsening headaches or blurred vision and skin bruising (other than at the site of where the vaccine was given)
  • Transverse myelitis (TM) and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). Symptoms of TM can include weakness in the arms or legs, sensory symptoms (such as tingling, numbness, pain or loss of pain sensation) or problems with bladder or bowel function. GBS is a rare neurological disorder that causes the body’s immune system to damage nerve cells. Most people fully recover from GBS. Symptoms can include:
    • Pain
    • Numbness
    • Muscle weakness, progressing to paralysis in the most severe cases
  • Capillary leak syndrome (CLS). A small number of reports of this rare condition have been reported following vaccination. Some of the reports reviewed were in individuals who have had this condition previously. Capillary leak syndrome is very rare, but can be serious. The condition causes fluid leakage from small blood vessels (capillaries). This can result in:
    • low blood pressure
    • swelling, mainly in the arms and legs
    • sudden weight gain
  • Immune thrombocytopenia (ITP). ITP results in low platelets (a part of the blood used for clotting) that can cause easy or excess bruising or bleeding. It can be fatal. Some of the cases of ITP after vaccination have occurred in people with a past problem with low platelets. Symptoms can include:
    • Unexplained bleeding or bruising
    • Small purplish pinpoint spots under the skin

People should be aware of the above symptoms in the days to weeks after vaccination, and seek medical attention immediately if they develop any of the symptoms. Be sure to tell your doctors that you received AstraZeneca/VaxzevriaTM  or Janssen, and when you received it.

  • The COVID-19 viral vector vaccine should not be given to people who are allergic to any ingredient of the vaccine, or if you have had a severe allergic reaction after the first dose, unless otherwise recommended by an allergist. An allergic reaction can be life-threatening. For information about any of the COVID-19 vaccine’s ingredients, please review the vaccine manufacturer’s product monograph, available at: or talk to your immunizer or health care provider.
  • Polysorbate 80 is an ingredient of both AstraZeneca/VaxzevriaTM  and Janssen that can cause allergic reactions, including serious reactions. Polysorbate 80 may be found in some medication preparations (e.g., vitamin oils, tablets, and anticancer agents) and cosmetics. Individuals with polysorbate 80 allergies may also be allergic to polyethylene glycol (PEG), another potential allergen found in many products (e.g., bowel preparation products for colonoscopy, laxatives, cough syrup, cosmetics, contact lens care solutions, skin care products, and as an additive in some food or drinks). If you are allergic to polysorbate 80 or PEG, speak with your health care provider before immunization.
  • Individuals who experienced major venous or arterial thrombosis with thrombocytopenia following the first dose of a viral vector vaccine should not receive a second dose of a viral vector COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Individuals who have previously experienced episodes of capillary leak syndrome should not receive AstraZeneca/VaxzevriaTM  or Janssen.
  • If you were infected with COVID-19 (e.g., confirmed by a positive PCR test or rapid antigen test (RAT)), you’re recommended to wait three months after your infection before getting your next dose of vaccine. But at minimum, you need to wait until your symptoms are gone and your period of isolation is over.

AstraZeneca/VaxzevriaTM  is currently approved as a two-dose primary series vaccine in Canada. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that both doses be separated by at least eight weeks between doses.

Janssen is currently approved as a one-dose primary series vaccine in Canada, with a booster dose 2 months after the first dose