Approval for the vaccines is following the usual processes to ensure safety and efficacy. There are several reasons the process was able to be quicker for the COVID-19 vaccines:

  • more resources were made available
  • resources / work were shifted from other projects to focus on the vaccine
  • global agencies have been working together and sharing data
  • studies took place in areas with high risk of COVID-19 infection so it didn't take long for results
Effectiveness:

The vaccines have been shown to be ~95% effective. It is important to understand two doses are required for full protection of both vaccines and optimal protection begins one week (Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine) to two weeks (Moderna vaccine) after the 2nd dose. Maximum duration of protection is not yet known but this continues to be studied.

Safety:

Short-term adverse effects are similar to those experienced with other vaccines and no safety concerns have been identified. Long-term adverse effects are not known, though most adverse effects of vaccines appear fairly soon after the dose.

No. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines use mRNA technology - the mRNA gives instructions to the cell to produce the spike protein, like what is found on the coronavirus, to produce an immune response. mRNA only enters the cytosol of the cell and never enters the nucleus, which is where DNA is housed.

 

Certain populations (see below) were not included in the initial vaccine trials and so we don't know if the vaccines are safe and effective. It is recommended that a risk-benefit analysis be conducted for these persons, including that the vaccine recipient/caregiver understands we don't have evidence of the safety and effectiveness in these groups at this time. If it is determined the person would benefit overall (e.g. someone in one of these groups who cannot avoid potential exposure to the virus) and is in the authorized age group, the vaccine should be offered. Currently, there are no known harms in these populations.

These populations include:

  • Currently pregnant or planning pregnancy before receiving both doses
  • Currently breastfeeding
  • Immunosuppressed from disease or treatment
  • Autoimmune conditions
Other reasons to avoid the vaccine:
  • Age
    • The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for use in persons 16 years of age and older
      • Only limited clinical data in persons 12 to 15 years of age are available. If the client is at risk of severe outcomes of COVID-19 because of underlying medical condition AND is at increased risk of exposure, vaccination may be considered.
    • The Moderna vaccine is approved for use in persons 18 years of age and older
  • Reported allergy to one of the ingredients
    • Those with food or environmental allergies can receive either vaccine.
    • Talk to your vaccine provider if you have experienced serious allergic reactions to polyethylene glycol (PEG) or other vaccines to determine if these vaccines are safe for you.
    • See the Health Canada recommendations for people with serious allergies
  • Currently feeling unwell with symptoms that could be COVID-19
    • to prevent potential transmission to others who are at the vaccine clinic/site (clients should be following public health quarantine recommendations)
    • to avoid confusion if symptoms arise as they could be adverse effects of the vaccine or because of the underlying infection
  • Serious adverse or allergic reaction to previous dose of COVID-19 vaccine unless determined safe by an allergist or other healthcare provider.

No, the vaccine does not contain virus; instead it provides the information your body needs to make antibodies/immune protection against the virus. As such, you cannot get COVID-19 infection from the vaccine.

If you were infected with the virus at the time of vaccination (e.g. you didn't have symptoms and didn't know you were infected), the vaccine will not keep you from passing COVID-19 to others. 

Following vaccination, continue to follow Public Health guidelines regarding hand hygiene, physical distancing, masks, etc. Public Health officials will be monitoring infection rates as more people get vaccinated and will adjust recommendations accordingly. 

Full protection does not occur until both doses of vaccine have been received so it is very important to return for the second dose when advised. 

For optimal protection, it may take up to:

  • 7 days following the 2nd dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
  • 14 days following the 2nd dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

The vaccines are highly effective (~95%) but may not protect all those who receive it.

Following vaccination, continue to follow Public Health guidelines regarding hand hygiene, physical distancing, masks, etc. Public Health officials will be monitoring infection rates as more people get vaccinated and will adjust recommendations accordingly. 

The 2nd dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine should be received 21 to 28 days following the 1st dose.

The 2nd dose of the Moderna vaccine should be received 28 days following the 1st dose.

*If vaccine supply is limited, it may be recommended to wait up to 42 days to receive the 2nd dose. Your vaccine provider will tell you when to return. If you do not receive your 2nd dose at the time that has been recommended for you, return for the dose as soon as possible. Do not receive your dose earlier than recommended.

No. At this time we don't have information to know if this would be effective. Both doses should be with the same vaccine product.

Saskatchewan is applying a phased approach.

Initial pilot project (mid-December 2020): Regina General Hospital

  • Healthcare workers in emergency departments, ICUs, COVID-19 wards, and COVID-19 testing & assessment staff at Regina General and Pasqua Hospitals

Phase 1 (expected end of December 2020): Priority populations at higher risk:

  • Healthcare workers
  • Staff and residents of long term care or personal care homes
  • Residents age 80 years old and older
  • Residents over the age of 50 living in remote northern communities

Phase 2 (expected April 2021): Widespread distribution of the vaccine

  • General population