Join the conversation about COVID-19

Albertans have been dealing with the impacts of COVID-19 for a year. We must remain vigilant to protect one another and our healthcare system. It is as important as ever to follow advice from Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and to take voluntary and mandatory restrictions seriously.

Vaccines are a critical way to limit the spread of COVID-19. They are effective and safe for protecting our health, as well as the health of our families and community members. Alberta Health, with input from AHS, has identified key populations to be included in a phased approach to the immunization roll out in Alberta. Our goal is to immunize Albertans as safely and effectively as possible; beginning with acute care sites with the highest COVID-19 capacity concerns.

Follow AHS on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates on COVID vaccine availability and other current news.

Albertans have been dealing with the impacts of COVID-19 for a year. We must remain vigilant to protect one another and our healthcare system. It is as important as ever to follow advice from Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and to take voluntary and mandatory restrictions seriously.

Vaccines are a critical way to limit the spread of COVID-19. They are effective and safe for protecting our health, as well as the health of our families and community members. Alberta Health, with input from AHS, has identified key populations to be included in a phased approach to the immunization roll out in Alberta. Our goal is to immunize Albertans as safely and effectively as possible; beginning with acute care sites with the highest COVID-19 capacity concerns.

Follow AHS on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates on COVID vaccine availability and other current news.

COVID Fact or Fiction

Have you heard a comment about COVID-19 that you want to fact check? Look no further! 

Post your comment here and an AHS expert will provide accurate and up-to-date information to validate or debunk your post as fact or fiction!

By providing us with your email you will be notified when a response to your post is provided or updated. This notification is automatically generated and your email will not be used for any other purposes.

You can also find answers to commonly asked questions on our public and staff FAQs. For other information about COVID-19 visit www.ahs.ca/covid

loader image
Didn't receive confirmation?
Seems like you are already registered, please provide the password. Forgot your password? Create a new one now.
  • I have heard the mRNA vaccine can change a woman's menstruation cyle. Is there ay truth to that.

    Jeannie asked 9 days ago

    Thank you for your question. 

    Menstruation is a complex process, and can be influenced by many things, such as environmental changes, stress, sleep and some medications. The lining of the uterus is in fact considered to be an active part of the immune system. When your immune system is working hard because you’re immunized or sick, you may experience changes in how the endometrium reacts. In this way it is possible that the vaccine affects menstruation somehow.

    This information is from our colleagues at ImmunizeBC; you will find the full explanation from them here: https://immunizebc.ca/ask-us/questions/can-i-get-covid-19-vaccine-while-i-am-menstruating-having-my-period-will-it-affect

    Dr. Judy Macdonald, Medical Officer of Health, AHS Public Health

  • If these vaccines are made mandatory, for example, health care workers, will institutions assume any liability for injury that may occur?

    tidy cats asked 9 days ago

    Thank you for your question. In Alberta, there is currently no support within government for mandatory immunization. Organizations and facilities outside of Alberta Health Services may create their own immunization policies which may require vaccines for their employees. 

    On December 10, 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the Public Health Agency of Canada will be implementing a pan-Canadian no-fault Vaccine Injury Support Program (VISP).

    The VISP will ensure that people in Canada who experience a serious and permanent injury after receiving any Health Canada authorized vaccine, including an authorized COVID-19 vaccine, have access to financial support. Building on the model that has been in place in Quebec for over 30 years, this pan-Canadian program will ensure fair and equitable access to support for all individuals immunized in Canada. 

    Dr. Judy Macdonald, Medical Officer of Health, AHS Public Health

  • How do I help alleviate fear for friends and family who took the AstraZeneca vaccine - are we getting more, are they protected, should they have waited for mRNA? Are we looking at combining AstraZeneca with an mRNA vaccine?

    Paulette asked 8 days ago

    Thank you for your question. We understand that this is a confusing time for people and we want to assure you that the best vaccine for you is the one that is available to you first - as all vaccines available in Canada are very effective. 

    In order to manage second dose supply, the AstraZeneca vaccine will no longer administered as a first dose. Only in the event of an intolerance/allergy to an mRNA vaccine or an Albertan declining immunization with an mRNA vaccine, will the AstraZeneca vaccine be offered as a first dose.

    Decisions on the type of second dose that will be offered to those who have been immunized with AstraZeneca will be determined based on the latest evidence and research. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) will continue to review evidence as it emerges, including evidence on mixed COVID-19 vaccine schedules, to provide advice to public health programs on the potential for completing the vaccine series with other vaccine products. For now, you do not need a second dose for up to 16 weeks from your first dose.

    Dr. Judy Macdonald, Medical Officer of Health, AHS Public Health

  • Many issues not noted in clinical trials are now being noted with the rollout of this new technology to the population. Despite claims of the being "approved" can you explain why clinical trials are not concluded ny the actual developers of this new technology?

    tidy cats asked 7 days ago

    Thank you for your question. While sufficient evidence of safety, efficacy and quality is an absolute requirement for Health Canada to approve a vaccine for use, sufficient evidence does not mean knowing everything that can be known about a vaccine. 

    Monitoring for reactions following immunization, called post-marketing surveillance, is critical once a vaccine program rolls out to a large population in order to pick up rare or very rare vaccine-related reactions, and to learn more about how the vaccine works in the real world. This monitoring is done by the vaccine manufacturer, by public health professionals and other health care professionals to continue to ensure safety and effectiveness. 

    You can read more information about this from Health Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/healthy-living/canadian-immunization-guide-part-2-vaccine-safety/page-2-vaccine-safety.html.

    Dr. Judy Macdonald, Medical Officer of Health, AHS Public Health

  • How can I trust that those in leadership positions have my best interest in mind? It's hard to take their advice when they have made very poor choices in the past that have had a negative impact on me. It makes me hesitant to believe them when they say that getting vaccinated will help anyone.

    Anon asked 6 days ago

    We understand that this is a challenging time for people and there is a lot of information available, thank you for taking the time to engage with us. Public Health professionals and health care providers around the world recommend immunization as one of the most effective ways to protect our families, communities and ourselves against COVID-19. We’ve already seen how vaccines are working in Alberta to protect individuals and prevent outbreaks. 

    For example, we have seen the difference in continuing care facilities since residents were vaccinated. During the second wave late last year, the seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 cases among those 80+ years peaked at 60.14 per 100,000 (Dec. 15), whereas during this third wave, the seven-day rolling average for this age group peaked at 8.86 per 100,000 (April 19). This chart shows the steep decline in cases of those aged 80+ at the start of January, when most 80+ Albertans had been immunized. Even with the rise in cases and variants in Alberta, we are not seeing a rise in cases among Alberta’s oldest residents.

    COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada are free. They're available to priority populations first. They'll then be available to everyone who is recommended to get the vaccine by federal, provincial and territorial public health authorities.

    Dr. Judy Macdonald, Medical Officer of Health, AHS Public Health

  • Can the Pfizer vaccine make you infertile? Can the Pfizer vaccine affect your eyes?

    Jordana asked 14 days ago

    Thank you for your question. The Society for Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) have released a statement recommending pregnant women be vaccinated in any trimester. AHS supports this position.

    The challenge we have with most new drugs and vaccines is that pregnant women are excluded from the initial clinical trials. This leaves a gap in our knowledge about safety and efficacy in pregnant women. However, although trials of vaccines for COVID-19 excluded pregnant women, sometimes women get vaccinated and find out a few days later they were actually pregnant when they received the vaccine. 

    In each of the trials, 10-20 pregnant women received the vaccine. They were followed up with very carefully and there were no adverse effects to the woman or the baby. That is a small number but that’s the evidence we have so far. In addition, as vaccines (or drugs) are licensed, registries for pregnant women are often created (or mandated through the licensure process) so that outcomes on pregnant women and their babies can be tracked. Through all of this, there is no suggestion that there is any safety issue for COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy.

    Because of the rare risk of blood clots that have been recently reported with the Astra-Zeneca and the Johnston and Johnston COVID-19 vaccines, we would not recommend that these vaccines be administered to a pregnant woman.

    We now have extensive evidence from providing vaccines to women who are pregnant. We recommend that pregnant women get vaccinated for influenza and whooping cough, for example, because of the risk to them or their baby if they become ill during pregnancy. Vaccinating the pregnant woman also allows immunity to pass on to her infant, protecting the baby for the first few months of life. 

    There have been some women who developed severe COVID-19 in late pregnancy and it is therefore we recommend that pregnant women receive vaccine. The SOGC advises that women may be vaccinated at any time during pregnancy. 

    The important message is that COVID-19 vaccine is safe for pregnant women and their babies and the benefits of being vaccinated far outweigh any risks.

    There has not been anything reported related to impacts to eyes. If an individual has a severe allergy there have been some reports of facial swelling, including around the eyes. It’s possible that someone may have an allergic reaction after receiving COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals with known allergies to any of the components of the vaccine should not receive it.

    It is always best to speak to a healthcare professional about your concerns so you can decide together whether the vaccine is right for you.

    Dr. Mark Joffe, VP and Medical Director Cancer Care Alberta, Clinical Support Services and Provincial Clinical Excellence and Specialist in Infectious Diseases

  • Do the any of the vaccines contain penicillin? What if someone has an allergy?

    CTJ asked 12 days ago

    We understand some people may be anxious about whether the COVID-19 vaccine is right for them. It is always best to speak to a healthcare professional about your concerns so you can decide together whether the vaccine is right for you.

    It’s possible that someone may have an allergic reaction after receiving COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals with known allergies to any of the components of the vaccine should not receive it.

    In some cases antibiotics may be used to prevent bacterial contamination during the manufacturing of vaccines. Most are removed during the vaccine purification process, but trace quantities remain in some vaccines. However, the antibiotics most likely to cause severe allergic reactions (e.g., penicillins, cephalosporins and sulfa drugs) are not used in vaccine production, and so are not contained in vaccines. This information is from our colleagues at ImmunizeBC

    The full list of ingredients in each vaccine can be found through the links below:

    Dr. Judy Macdonald, Medical Officer of Health, AHS Public Health

  • Can you tell me more about children as young as 12 being eligible for the vaccine? What risks are there?

    Veronica asked 11 days ago

    Thank you for your question. The Pfizer vaccine is now authorized for use for adolescents 12 years of age and over. Albertans born between 2004 and 2009 will be booked for Pfizer and those born 2003 and earlier will receive either Pfizer or Moderna.

    On May 18 the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) released a statement on the efficacy and safety of providing the COVID-19 vaccine to children 12 to 15 years of age (read that statement here).

    If parents/ guardians have questions, they can talk to their child’s doctor, but they don’t need to get a letter before getting immunized through a participating pharmacy or AHS (www.ahs.ca/covidvaccine or call Health Link 811). 

    When any vaccine is approved for use by Health Canada, safety and effectiveness must be well demonstrated and documented in studies. Information we have right now shows that the vaccine works as well in children in this age group as it does in adults. In fact, the NACI has found that clinical trial evidence showed 100% efficacy in adolescents 12 to 15 years of age against confirmed COVID-19 illness. 

    As well, the side effects in children are similar to those in young adults. Those include pain, fever, chills and fatigue, particularly after the second dose. Effectiveness and side effects will continue to be tracked in this age group, as they are in all groups receiving vaccines. 

    The risks of getting COVID-19 infection and becoming very ill are becoming more of a concern for younger individuals, including in those 12-15 years old. Immunization as well as following public health measures is important in this age group too.

    AHS recommends allowing space between the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines including those typically recommended for adolescents.

    Dr. Judy Macdonald, Medical Officer of Health, AHS Public Health

  • Have other countries began to vaccinate their youth population or is Alberta the first to do so? I read that the Pfizer trials on 12-16yr olds included 2200 kids, which is not a huge sample size to rule out adverse events . Is there any reason to think that it would have a different safety profile in kids than it does in adults? I am eager to vaccinate my own kids but also have a lot of questions if Alberta is the first to use this widely in a youth population.

    DS asked 11 days ago

    Thank you for your question; this is a very important topic for Albertan parents and guardians. 

    The Pfizer vaccine is now authorized for use for adolescents 12 years of age and over. Albertans born between 2004 and 2009 will be booked for a Pfizer vaccine, and those born in 2003 and earlier will receive either Pfizer or Moderna.  All other Canadian provinces are either offering this vaccine to those 12 to 15 years of age - or soon will be.  On May 18 the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) released a statement on the efficacy and safety of providing the COVID-19 vaccine to children 12 to 15 years of age (read that statement here).

    This vaccine has also been recently authorized for use in this age group in the US, with their immunization practice committee also recommending it for children as young as 12 years of age.

    If parents/ guardians have questions, they can talk to their child’s doctor, but they don’t need to get a letter before getting immunized through a participating pharmacy or AHS (www.ahs.ca/covidvaccine or call Health Link 811). 

    Information we have right now shows that the vaccine works as well in children in this age group as it does in adults. In fact, the NACI has found that clinical trial evidence showed 100% efficacy in adolescents 12 to 15 years of age against confirmed COVID-19 illness. As well, the side effects in children are similar to those in young adults. Those include pain, fever, chills and fatigue, particularly after the second dose. Effectiveness and side effects will continue to be tracked in this age group, as they are in all groups receiving vaccines. 

    AHS recommends allowing space between the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines including those typically recommended for adolescents.

    Dr. Judy Macdonald, Medical Officer of Health, AHS Public Health

  • Is the incidence of side effects/serious side effects higher in the COVID vaccinations than other previously established vaccinations? Could you provide some data with examples of other vaccinations side effect rates?

    Lots of questions asked 15 days ago

    The Government of Alberta has the most up-to-date figures on adverse events following immunization (AEFI) with the COVID-19 vaccine. 

    A total of 11,526,938 vaccine doses have been administered in Canada as of April 23, 2021. Adverse events (side effects) have been reported by 4,128 people. That’s about 4 people out of every 10,000 people vaccinated who have reported one or more adverse events.

    Of the 4,128 individual reports, 3,511 were considered non-serious (0.030% of all doses administered) and 617 were considered serious (0.005% of all doses administered). Most adverse events are mild and include soreness at the site of injection or a slight fever. Serious adverse events are rare, but do occur. They include anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction), which has been reported 60 times for all COVID-19 vaccines across Canada. That’s why you need to wait for a period of time after you receive a vaccination so that you can receive treatment in case of an allergic reaction. (Source: https://health-infobase.canada.ca/covid-19/vaccine-safety/summary.html)

    A list of the most commonly administered vaccines among AEFI reports between January-June of 2019, can be found here: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/vaccines-immunization/adverse-events-following-immunization-bi-annual-report-january-1-june-30-2019.html

    Additional AEFI reports are available here: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/immunization/canadian-adverse-events-following-immunization-surveillance-system-caefiss.html

    Like any medication or supplement (including vitamins), vaccines can cause side effects and reactions. After being vaccinated, it's common and normal to have temporary side effects. These usually last from a few hours to a few days after vaccination. This is the body's natural response, as it's working hard to build immunity against the disease. This is called an inflammatory response or reaction. Most side effects don’t disrupt daily activities. You can take medicine to help with any pain or to lower a fever. (Source: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/vaccination-children/safety-concerns-side-effects.html