COVID-19 Vaccine Question and Answer
1. COVID Vaccinations
What does "up-to-date" on my COVID vaccination mean?
You are considered up-to-date on your vaccinations if you have received the COVID-19 vaccine dose you are now eligible for.
- For residents 18 years and older, a primary vaccination series is two doses of Pfizer, Moderna or Novavax.
- For residents five to 17 years of age, a primary vaccination series is two doses of Pfizer or Moderna.
- A primary vaccination for children younger than five years old is a two-dose Moderna series.
It takes up to 14 days to build immunity following the primary vaccination series.
Further epidemiology, data on waning immunity, emerging variants and new vaccines will determine future booster dose recommendations from the Ministry of Health.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory?
No. Saskatchewan's immunization programs are voluntary. However, we strongly recommend that everyone receive the COVID-19 vaccine dose they are now eligible for.
How does the vaccine protect against COVID-19?
mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response without using the live virus that causes COVID-19. Once triggered, our body then makes antibodies. These antibodies help us fight the infection if the real virus does enter our body in the future. The vaccine is given as a needle in the upper arm.
Who should get the vaccine?
Anyone six months of age and older who is eligible should be immunized against COVID-19. If you have concerns, discuss them with your healthcare provider.
What does it mean that a vaccine is "95% effective"?
Vaccine efficacy means how well the vaccine works or its ability to prevent the illness during clinical trials. Vaccine efficacy of 95% indicates a 95% reduction in disease occurrence among the vaccinated group.
Can I still get COVID-19 after vaccination?
COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada are safe and effective and will prevent the most serious health outcomes for the majority of residents but vaccination will not stop 100 per cent of transmission. A percentage of people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 may still develop COVID-19 when exposed to the virus. You are considered up-to-date on your vaccinations if you have receive the COVID-19 vaccine does they are now eligible for. It takes up to 14 days to build immunity following the primary vaccination series. For more information, refer to Information Sheets for each type of COVID-19 vaccine are available.
After getting a COVID-19 vaccine, will I test positive for COVID-19 on a PCR (molecular) or rapid antigen test?
None of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines cause you to test positive on a lab-based PCR test or a rapid antigen test, which are used to see if you have a current infection. If your body develops an immune response to vaccination, which is the goal, you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody (or serology) tests indicate you have developed antibodies in your blood, either from a previous infection, or from immunization. Antibody tests are not used to diagnose a current infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.
Are there any groups who cannot tolerate/receive the vaccine at all?
Information Sheets for each type of COVID-19 vaccine are available. If you have concerns, you should talk to your health care provider.
What are the expected side effects?
There might be some mild symptoms a day or two after receiving the vaccine. The most common side effects are localized pain or redness or swelling at the injection site. Other symptoms may include mild fever, chills, headache, joint or muscle pain, nausea and vomiting, enlarged lymph nodes under the arm, or feeling tired. As with all vaccines, there's a chance that there will be a serious side effect, but these are rare. Information Sheets for each type of COVID-19 vaccine are available
All residents will be asked to report any adverse or unexpected reactions to HealthLine 811.
Do you receive some protection from just one dose of the two-dose primary-series vaccines?
You are afforded some protection with one dose, but the two-dose primary-series vaccines require a second dose in order to ensure the full immune system response. Booster doses are recommended to protect against the current COVID-19 variants. Full protection will help reduce the risk of transmission, as well as prevent the most severe forms of the COVID-19 illness and death.
If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated for COVID-19 when the vaccine is available?
Vaccination is recommended even if you've had COVID-19. For those age six months to less than five years of age, immunization with a COVID-19 vaccine dose in a primary series should be given at least 8 weeks after infection. For those aged five years and older, immunization with a COVID-19 vaccine dose in a primary series should be given at least three months after infection and immunization with a booster dose should be given at least six months after infection. More time between infection and vaccination is recommended to ensure a strong immune response. However, immunization after infection may be provided upon request if your symptoms have improved.
What brand of vaccine am I getting?
All of the vaccines being administered are effective and approved by Health Canada for use. All of them are important to help protect the public from severe illness and death from COVID-19. Information on what type of vaccine is being offered at specific locations is available using the booking tool/phone bookings. Pharmacies will also advise which vaccine is being offered.
3. SHA Patient Booking System
Who can use SHA's online booking system?
The SHA patient booking system will be available to all citizens with internet access, including those living in border communities and those without Saskatchewan health cards, like new immigrants to our province.
Note that there may be some vaccines or doses that cannot be booked through the SHA's online booking tool. Designated vaccines, including Novavax, are available by SHA appointment made by calling 1-833-SASKVAX (1-833-727-5829) only.
What information do patients need in order to book an appointment in the online system?
Patients will be required to have a health card from any province, as well as a cell phone and/or valid email address, while also confirming their eligibility by using their birth date. Identification is also required when the appointment takes place, to ensure we are immunizing the same person that was registered to receive it. Patients will need their health card and immunization card if they've received their first dose.
What if I don't have a health card?
Users without a health card, or those requiring extra assistance are encouraged to use the telephone option to book their appointment.
Where do patients go to access the system and book their online appointment?
The tool can be accessed directly from the Saskatchewan.ca website at Saskatchewan.ca/covid19-vaccine or from saskhealthauthority.ca.
What about patients who don't use or have access to the internet?
Users who aren't comfortable with, or don't have access to technology can book by phone. Family and friends who aren't yet eligible can also book on behalf of someone who is eligible, either online or by phone.
The system is designed to verify a person's eligibility as their appointment is booked. Identification is also required at the time of the actual appointment.
How will I know when new age groups are eligible to book appointments?
Go to Saskatchewan.ca/covid19-vaccine. There is a launch button there to take you directly to the appointment booking. It will also say what age groups are currently eligible for booking appointments.
How does the booking system protect patient privacy and data?
Protecting patient privacy was a paramount consideration when selecting a vendor for the booking system. The selected vendor meets all Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) security standards, policies and controls. Data is stored securely in Canadian data centres and is subject to Canadian data security laws.
Can I book into a pharmacy or physician's office by using this site?
Not at this time.
Who can I talk to if I have questions about the tool or my appointment?
Anyone with technical issues or other questions are encouraged to call the booking system directly at HealthLine 811.
Can I call the booking office with general inquiries about the vaccine?
No, the booking office is only available for those eligible to book appointments. Staff will not be taking general inquiry calls about the vaccine or any other subject.
4. Telephone Booking System/Office
Do staff working at the telephone booking office have medical training?
No, booking agents have no medical training. They are trained not to answer any clinical questions. Their function is highly scripted in order to facilitate booking vaccine appointments only. The call centre has a close connection with HealthLine 811 to access their nursing staff and also 911 in the event of an emergency.
What does the hours of operation of the telephone booking office look like?
The booking office is available from 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., seven days a week.
Will patients have the ability to book vaccinations 24/7?
The online patient booking system is the fastest way to get your appointment, and is available 24/7.