COVID-19 vaccines have now been approved for use in Canada, with the first vaccinations in Alberta administered to healthcare workers on Dec. 15, 2020. Because there will be limited quantities at first, key populations will need to be prioritized.

Siksika Health Services’ COVID-19 vaccination planning is underway and will continue to develop rapidly as new vaccines and approvals become available. We will keep all of Siksikawa informed with up-to-date information as it comes in.

With the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine in Alberta, we will have the opportunity to slow the spread of the virus, and ensure our most vulnerable and at-risk populations throughout the province are protected from COVID-19.

Important Information about the COVID-19 Vaccine:

  • Only vaccines that are safe and effective are approved for use in Canada.
  • A vaccine will be available for everyone.
  • Because there will be limited quantities at first, once a vaccine is approved for use, key populations will need to be prioritized.
  • Building up immunity takes time. One dose of the vaccine may not be enough to provide protection; a second dose may be required.
  • It is not known yet how long it will take to achieve community immunity, so until that time it is important to continue following public health guidance.
  • COVID-19 vaccines will be free.
  • Getting vaccinated is a personal choice.
  • Vaccination is a choice you should make to protect yourself, your family and community.
  • Siksika Health Services is committed to providing ongoing comprehensive healthcare during this time, including making the COVID-19 vaccine available in the community as soon as safely possible.

For COVID-19 vaccines, Health Canada is using a fast-tracked process that allows manufacturers to submit data as it becomes available, and for Health Canada experts to start the review process right away. Only vaccines that are safe and effective are approved for use in Canada.

Vaccine Development and Approval in Canada Infographic

What You Need to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine for Canada

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

  1. Is seems that COVID-19 vaccines were developed and tested very quickly. Are they still safe?
  • Many pharmaceutical companies have invested significant resources into developing COVID-19 vaccines quickly because of the worldwide effects of the pandemic.
    • This emergency situation warranted an urgent response. That does not mean the companies bypassed safety protocols or performed inadequate testing.
  • Companies had already been working on vaccine development against other types of coronaviruses, such as SARS and MERS, so the basic science was already developed.
  • Companies completed the required clinical trials, the same as for other new vaccines, with the same safety studies and efficacy studies.
  • Health Canada added more regulators to assess & review of the clinical trial information.
  • Only vaccines that are safe and effective are approved for use in Canada.
  1. Why is COVID-19 immunization important??
  • We all must do our part to protect one another. Immunization is the single most effective means of protecting yourself, and your loved ones from COVID-19.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine will help slow the spread of the virus and ensure our most vulnerable and at-risk populations are protected from COVID-19.
  • Although some individuals are at greater risk for severe complications, without immunization, even healthy people can be at risk of severe illness and even death from this virus. The vaccine will help protect you, your family, and the greater community.
  • The vaccine will also reduce the strain on our healthcare system to allow services to continue.
  1. Who will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine first?
  • Siksika Health Services will immunize the highest risk people first, including people at Siksika Elders Lodge, Elders over 65 yrs of age, those with chronic illnesses, and essential workers such as healthcare workers.
  • Community immunization clinics will be held to immunize younger age groups. Stay tuned to Siksika Health for up-to-date information on when the vaccine will be available in Siksika Nation.
  1. Who is not eligible for this vaccine?
  • Clinical trials did not include pregnant women, or women who are breastfeeding, and children younger than 18 years of age.
  • Also, clinical trials did not include people who have auto-immune diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus), or people who are taking medications that suppress their immune systems.
  • Until more information is known, Health Canada recommends that these groups should not get the vaccine.
  • People who are sick with an acute infection (like a cold) should wait until their symptoms are completely gone before getting the vaccine.
  1. Does the COVID-19 vaccine cause side effects?
  • Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects.
  • Most often the side effects from COVID vaccines are mild and go away after a few days.
  • Most people can experience mild side effects:
    • soreness where the needle was given;
    • feeling tired;
    • mild headache;
    • mild fever and chills;
    • mild body & joint aches;
    • some people may have a fever.
  • Keep in mind that these side effects indicate that your immune system is responding to the vaccine.
  • These side effects are expected with COVID vaccines. They do not mean that a person is allergic to the vaccine.
  • A very rare reaction to this vaccine is a very severe allergic reaction with hives, itchiness & difficulty swallowing.
  • People who have severe allergies to other drugs should contact their doctor to discuss if they should have the COVID vaccine.
  1. Do I still need to follow public health measures, like wearing a mask, after I am immunized for COVID-19?
  • Yes, because:
    • It may take time for everyone who wants a COVID-19 immunization to get one.
    • While the vaccine may prevent you from getting sick, it is unknown whether you can still carry and transmit the virus to others after immunization.
    • Until more is understood about how well the vaccine works, continuing with precautions, such as wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing and washing hands frequently, will be important.
  1. Can this vaccine give me COVID-19 disease?
  • No, the vaccine cannot infect people with COVID-19. It is an inactivated vaccine.
  1. How long will the protection from this vaccine last?
  • From original & ongoing clinical trials we know the protection lasts many months.
  • This length of protection continues to be studied.
  • It may turn out that we need a dose every year or two. We will know more in 2021.
  1. Is one vaccine better than the other Pfizer & Moderna?
  • Both vaccines were demonstrated to be very safe, & with an efficacy (protection) level of 94-95%.
  • Based on the information we have, these two vaccines are very similar, with just some important differences in cold storage and when the second dose should be given.
  1. Can a person have the first dose with one vaccine and second dose with the other?
  • At this point we don’t know, as this wasn’t studied in the original clinical trials. Until we know more, with other studies underway now, it is recommended that a person gets both doses with the same vaccine.
  1. If a person has already had COVID-19 disease, should they have the vaccine?
  • Yes, because it isn’t clear how long immunity lasts after natural infection.
  • People who had had previous infection were included in the clinical trials, and the vaccine proved to be safe and effective in those people.