Starting January 3, 2024, eligible Albertans can call 811 to book their Novavax XBB.1.5 immunization appointment at select AHS sites, with appointments beginning on January 5, 2024. See below for details on eligibility.
COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect you from getting severely sick from COVID-19 infection. All vaccines are safe, effective and save lives.
COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time, before or after influenza vaccine and other routine immunizations to individuals 6 months of age or older.
COVID-19 vaccine schedule by health status, age group, and vaccine history.
Get the COVID-19 XBB.1.5 vaccine
The COVID-19 XBB.1.5 vaccines are anticipated to provide a better immune response against currently circulating strains.
Who is eligible?
- It is recommended that all individuals 6 months of age and older to receive the COVID-19 mRNA XBB.1.5 vaccines.
- Individuals 12 years of age and older who have contraindications to or refuse an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine can receive the Novavax XBB.1.5 (non-mRNA) vaccine.
- If an individual has already received an mRNA XBB.1.5 vaccine, they are not eligible for a Novavax XBB.1.5 vaccine.
- Currently, there are no authorized COVID-19 vaccines for children younger than 6 months of age.
- Minors under the age of 18 require verbal or written consent from a parent or guardian to be vaccinated.
- Immunization is particularly important for those at increased risk of COVID-19 infection or severe disease, for example:
- Adults 65 years of age or older;
- Residents of long-term care homes and other congregate living settings;
- Individuals with underlying medical conditions or compromised immune systems that place them at higher risk of severe COVID-19;
- Individuals who are pregnant;
- Individuals in or from First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities;
- Members of racialized and other equity-denied communities;
- People who provide essential community services and healthcare workers.
- Check eligibility by health status, age group, and vaccine history.
Doses for immunocompromised individuals
When to book an appointment?
- For most Albertans, an appointment can be booked if it has been at least 3 months since the last COVID-19 vaccine dose.
- It is recommended that the COVID-19 vaccine be delayed for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 (by PCR or rapid antigen test). For more information, please read “If you have had a COVID-19 infection” below.
- COVID-19 vaccines can be administered at the same time, before or after influenza vaccine and other routine immunizations to individuals 6 months of age or older.
- Hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) recipients and CAR T-cell therapy recipients are recommended to consult with their physician regarding COVID-19 vaccine spacing.
- Check when to book your appointment based on your health status, age group, and vaccine history.
How to book an appointment?
- Albertans five years of age and older and their families are encouraged to book their appointment at a community pharmacy. Appointments for children under five years of age and their families are available through AHS clinics.
- Most pharmacies are accepting walk-in appointments for individuals 5 years of age and older.
- Some community medical clinics also offer COVID-19 vaccines and can be contacted directly.
- Albertans 12 years of age and older can call Health Link at 811 to book an immunization appointment at select AHS public health centres across Alberta.
- Due to limited quantity, this vaccine will not be offered at community pharmacies or community medical clinics.
Which COVID-19 vaccine will you get?
- The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) currently recommends the mRNA vaccines as the preferred COVID-19 vaccine products.
- Alberta Health recommends that all individuals 6 months of age and older be immunized with an mRNA COVID-19 XBB.1.5 vaccine.
- However, Albertans 12 years of age and older who have contraindications to or refuse an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine can receive the Novavax XBB.1.5 vaccine.
- Albertans are encouraged to get immunized against COVID-19 with the vaccine available to them at the immunization site, and to not delay immunization based on vaccine brand.
- COVID-19 vaccines are interchangeable and continually monitored; post-market surveillance of safety and effectiveness is also conducted.
If you have had a COVID-19 infection
- It is recommended that the COVID-19 vaccine be delayed for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 (by PCR or rapid antigen test).
- Check the detailed recommendations in Table 3.
- For further information or questions, please call Health Link (811) or ask your healthcare provider.
All approved vaccines are safe, effective, and help prevent serious illness and complications from COVID-19 infection.
COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time, before or after the influenza vaccine and other routine immunizations to individuals 6 months of age or older.
- All vaccines approved in Canada undergo a rigorous review and approval process to ensure they are safe and effective.
- Once a vaccine is in use, Alberta Health, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and Health Canada all monitor Canadian and international adverse events following immunization. Health Canada also publishes information and counts of all COVID-19 adverse events following immunization.
- Overall, serious side effects from immunization are rare.
- Very rare cases of inflammation of the heart muscle and lining surrounding the heart (myocarditis and pericarditis) have been reported across all age groups. It has been reported most frequently after a second dose of an mRNA vaccine but can occur after any dose and has also been reported with non-mRNA vaccines. This adverse effect is more common in adolescents and young adults, and occurs within the first 1-2 weeks following immunization, usually resolving rapidly with rest and medications. The cases are typically mild and are treatable. The risk of myocarditis and/or pericarditis from COVID-19 infection is much higher than the risk following immunization with COVID-19 vaccine.
- The vaccines do not contain egg, latex or preservatives.
- The only time someone should not get a COVID-19 vaccine is if they are severely allergic to specific ingredients in the vaccine. Speak to your doctor if you have questions about allergies.
What is the difference between vaccine types?
All vaccines help our bodies learn how to protect us against future infection from the virus that causes COVID-19 infection, but different vaccines use different mechanisms to get the attention of the immune system.
mRNA COVID-19 vaccines
The mRNA vaccines are proven highly effective in preventing serious illness and death from COVID-19 infection. They are available to individuals aged 6 months and older.
How it works
- These vaccines use mRNA technology to teach cells how to make a protein to trigger an immune response and make antibodies to fight the COVID-19 virus. It does not alter your DNA.
Non-mRNA COVID-19 vaccines
- Although the mRNA vaccines are preferentially recommended, individuals who have a contraindication to or refuse these vaccines can receive a non-mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
- The Novavax XBB.1.5 vaccine is the only non-mRNA COVID-19 vaccine available in Canada to individuals aged 12 years and older.
How it works
- Novavax is a protein subunit vaccine that uses purified COVID-19 spike proteins to stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies to fight the COVID-19 virus.
After your vaccine
After your vaccine, you may experience minor side effects like fever or aches that go away on their own after a few days. As with all medicines, there is a small chance that there will be a serious side effect (adverse events) like an allergic reaction, so it is important to stay at the place you get your vaccine for 15 minutes after being immunized. Some very rare reactions after COVID-19 vaccines include:
- mRNA vaccines: Rare cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and/or pericarditis (inflammation of the lining around the heart) have been reported after receiving an mRNA vaccine.
- Additional precautions to protect yourself from the spread of respiratory viruses include:
- Stay home when feeling sick;
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick, whenever possible;
- Wash hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
- Cover coughs and sneezes, followed by cleaning of hands;
- Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands;
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items at home, especially when someone is sick; and
- Wear a well-fitting mask in crowded indoor spaces to help reduce the risk of becoming sick and to help protect others from being exposed.