Characteristics of COVID-19 Vaccines Available in Canada

Comirnaty™ (Pfizer) SPIKEVAX™ (Moderna)

Vaxzevria™ (AstraZeneca) and COVISHIELD¥

Janssen 
(Johnson & Johnson)

Vaccine Technology mRNA mRNA Viral vector 
ChAdOx1-S
(recombinant)
Viral vector
Ad26.COV2.S (recombinant)
Packaging

Multi-dose preservative-free vials containing 6 doses

Cartons of 25 and 195 vials

Multi-dose preservative-free vials containing 10 doses

Cartons of 10 vials

US-labelled product available in vials containing 14 (maximum 15) doses.

Vaxzevria™ (AstraZeneca):
Multi-dose preservative-free available in:
8 dose vial (4 ml) 
10 dose vial (5 ml)

COVISHIELD:
Multi-dose preservative-free available in:
10 dose vial (5 ml)

Multi-dose preservative-free vial containing 5 doses

Cartons of 10 vials
Storage/Stability
Stability in Freezer

Store at -90°C to -60°C  (ultrafreezer) until the expiry date printed on the label.

Store and/or transport at -25°C to -15°C for up to 2 weeks.^ 

Store at -25°C to -15°C (freezer) until the expiry date printed on the label. Do not freeze. Do not freeze.
Thawing

Thaw undiluted product in fridge (takes up to 3 hours).
or
Thaw undiluted product at room temperature (takes ~30 minutes).

Do not refreeze thawed vials.

Thaw in fridge (takes 2.5 hours), let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before administration.
or
Thaw at room temperature (takes 1 hour).

Do not refreeze thawed vials.

Not required. 

Do not freeze.

Not required. 

Do not freeze.
Stability in Fridge (2°C to 8°C)

Undiluted product: up to 1 month

Thawed, undiluted product can be transported at 2°C to 8°C for up to 12 hours but this counts against the 1-month limit.

Up to 30 days

Store at 2° to 8°C

Store in outer carton to protect from light.

Expiry date found on vial label and refers to last day of that month.

Store at 2°C to 8°C

Keep in original carton to protect from light.

Expiry date of vaccine should be checked and manually written on carton. See Product Monograph for additional details about expiry dates.
Dilution

Dilute thawed vials once they have reached room temperature with 1.8 mL of sterile 0.9% Sodium Chloride
Injection, USP

Dilution/
reconstitution not required

Dilution/reconstitution not required Dilution/
reconstitution not required
Stability at Room Temperature (up to 25°C) Prior to dilution, no more than 2 hours

After dilution, use within 6 hours from time of dilution
Up to 24 hours 

Store in a refrigerator (2°C to 8°C). 

No stability data of unopened vial at room temperature. See stability after 1st puncture.  

Stable for a total of 12 hours at 9°C to 25°C
Stability after 1st Puncture Up to 6 hours at 2°C to 25°C  Up to 24 hours  at 2°C to 25°C

Up to 6 hours at room temperature (up to 25°C)

Up to 48 hours when refrigerated (2°C to 8°C)

Product can be returned to the fridge but the cumulative time at room temperature must not exceed 6 hours and cumulative storage once opened must not exceed 48 hours.

Up to 3 hours at room temperature (up to 25°C)

Up to 6 hours at 2°C to 8°C

Clinical Information
Age Approved for individuals 12 years and older Approved for individuals 12 years and older Approved for individuals 18 years of age and over Approved for individuals 18 years of age and older
Dose 2x 0.3 ml doses
21-28 days* apart

Minimum interval = 19 days
2x 0.5 ml doses
28 days* apart

Minimum interval = 21 days§

2 x 0.5 ml doses
28 days* apart

Minimum interval = 28 days

Single dose of 0.5 mL
Route of Administration Intramuscular (deltoid preferred) Intramuscular (deltoid preferred) Intramuscular
(deltoid preferred)
Intramuscular
(deltoid preferred)

¥ Health Canada has authorized 2 manufacturers of the ChAdOx1-S recombinant vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University: Vaxzevria™ (manufactured by AstraZeneca) and COVISHIELD (manufactured by Serum Institute of India). Health Canada has reviewed the manufacturing information for these vaccines and found them to be comparable. Separate product monographs are available for each product but parameters aside from packaging are the same. 

Packaging originally indicated 5 doses per vial though this has been updated to 6 doses per vial to minimize waste and increase access. Six doses can be achieved by using low dead-volume syringes and/or needles. If standard syringes and needles are used, there may not be sufficient volume to extract 6 full doses from a single vial.

∇ Moderna Tx, Inc. is providing US-labelled vaccine supplies in order to expedite the distribution of the vaccine in Canada. The contents are identical to the Canadian-labelled product. However, important differences in packaging and labelling include:

  • Vials contain 8 mL providing 14 doses (US label maximum 15 doses) of 0.5 mL and are supplied in cartons of 10 vials
  • English-only labels
  • Important Canadian-specific information absent from labels (e.g. DIN)
  • Expiration dates are not printed on vial and carton labels

Continue to use the Canadian product monograph. For access to expiration dates, Canadian-specific labelling information and further details, see the Health Canada MedEffect notice.

On August 27, 2021, Health Canada expanded the Ultra Low Temperature storage conditions to now allow storage at -90°C to -60°C (-130°F to -76°F) versus the previously approved -80°C to -60°C (-112°F to -76°F). All references to storage conditions of -80°C to -60°C (-112°F to -76°F) on cartons and supporting printed material currently in Canada should now be considered between -90°C to -60°C (-130°F to -76°F.

 On August 27, 2021, Health Canada authorized an update to the Comirnaty™ (Pfizer) Product Monograph to allow a 3-month extension to the expiry date for all Comirnaty™ (Pfizer) vials with expiry dates of August 2021 through February 2022 printed on the vial and carton labels. Cartons and vials of Comirnaty™ (Pfizer) with an expiry date of August 2021 through February 2022 printed on the label may remain in use for 3 months beyond the printed date as long as all approved storage conditions have been maintained.

Printed Expiry Date Updated Expiry Date
August 2021 November 2021
September 2021 December 2021
October 2021 January 2022
November 2021 February 2022
December 2021 March 2022
January 2022 April 2022
February 2022 May 2022

^ Vials stored/transported at -25°C to -15°C for up to 2 weeks may be returned (once) to the recommended storage condition of -80°C to -60°C. Total time the vials are stored and /or transported at -25°C to -15°C should be tracked and not exceed 2 weeks.

Previous information suggested 8-12 weeks between doses is optimal; however, with the Delta variant circulating in Saskatchewan, it's recommended that all residents receive second dose vaccinations as soon as eligible.

† 21 days is the minimum interval authorized by Health Canada;19 days is included in NACI recommendations based on the per-protocol design for the Comirnaty™ (Pfizer) clinical trial that was 19-23 days. The province is adopting a 28 day interval for all vaccines.

§ 28 days is the minimum interval authorized by Health Canada; 21 days is included in NACI recommendations based on the majority of participants in the SPIKEVAX™ (Moderna) clinical trial received the second dose 21 to 42 days after the first, as per the pre-defined window.

Last updated

18 Sep 2021