When can I get vaccinated?

COVID-19 vaccination is ramping up across Nova Scotia. The province is taking an age-based approach to give vaccinations. There are community clinics open for Nova Scotians aged 12 and older and special clinics for health-care providers, First Nations communities and other groups at high risk of getting COVID-19.

Note: Nova Scotia has paused the use of AstraZeneca vaccine for first doses due to the risk of blood clots and the increase in supply of mRNA vaccines. If you received a first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine, you can book a second dose of AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna, though the province recommends choosing Pfizer or Moderna. This recommendation is based on emerging evidence of a better immune response with an mRNA second dose and the risk of rare but serious blood clotting events associated with AstraZeneca.

With things changing so quickly, it can be confusing to stay up to date about when you’ll be able to book a COVID-19 shot.

How it works
If you’re aged 12 and older
 you can book online now on this website or call 1-833-797-7772 (toll-free). You’ll receive the vaccine at a community clinic or pharmacy in your area. If you need transportation to your appointment, the Rural Transportation Association can provide transportation at a reduced cost.

You don’t need to be a regular patient at the clinic or pharmacy to book an immunization appointment. If the clinic closest to you is full, you can book at another clinic further away. Remember: All appointments need to be booked in advance. Do not go to a clinic or doctor’s office unless you have an appointment.

If you are a health-care provider, member of a First Nations community or belong to another high-risk group, your registration will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Booking tips
When booking online, be sure to type in your name exactly as it appears on your health card. If you don’t have a health card, call 1-833-797-7772 to book your appointment.

Keep in mind that traffic on the booking website and the toll-free number is highest on days when new ages or age ranges are eligible to book. If a clinic is full, check another location. As more vaccine arrives, more appointments will be added, so check back often. You can also watch for updates from government on upcoming clinics and new age groups added.

When will there be more appointments?
As more vaccine arrives from the federal government, more vaccine appointments will be available to Nova Scotians. We don’t know when specific ages or age groups will be added, but here are some approximate dates from government. You can check this website regularly for the latest updates.

But I have a health condition
Nova Scotians are being prioritized by age, not by health condition. That’s because being older is the main risk factor for getting seriously ill from COVID-19. Making certain medical conditions a priority for vaccination would slow the vaccination process and slow the building of “population immunity” that will protect everyone from the disease. If you have a health condition and aren’t sure if you should be vaccinated, speak with your family doctor or other health-care provider to help you decide.

I feel unwell – should I still get vaccinated?
No, you should get tested for COVID-19 instead. Rebook your vaccination if you feel unwell, have been at a COVID-19 exposure site or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. You can rebook online or call 1-833-797-7772.

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe? Were they rushed?
COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada are very safe. While they were developed more rapidly than past vaccines, safety was a top priority. Their safety was proven in large clinical trials and there is now even more evidence with hundreds of millions of doses given worldwide. Health Canada’s approval process is rigorous. With nearly 100 different vaccines in development, Canada has so far approved four that have all of the necessary clinical trials and safety data. Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada continue to monitor the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines, providing weekly updates.

Is the AstraZeneca vaccine safe and effective?
Note: Nova Scotia has paused the use of AstraZeneca vaccine for first doses due to the risk of blood clots and the increase in supply of mRNA vaccines. If you received a first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine, you can book a second dose of AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna, though the province recommends choosing Pfizer or Moderna. This recommendation is based on emerging evidence of a better immune response with an mRNA second dose and the risk of rare but serious blood clotting events associated with AstraZeneca.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective, and will keep you from getting seriously ill from COVID-19 and needing hospital care. Reports of blood clots in a small number of people who were vaccinated in Europe were rapidly investigated, and the vaccine was limited for certain age groups out of an abundance of caution. Health Canada has since finalized its independent review of the vaccine and confirmed it is safe and effective for adults.

These investigations found the blood clot risk to be incredibly low, about 1 in 100,000 or 1 in 250,000. Note: the risk of getting a regular blood clot are 1 in 5 for people hospitalized with COVID-19. The blood clot condition (called vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia, or VITT) is also treatable. While incredibly rare, the blood clot side effect could appear four to 20 days after immunization. The symptoms are similar to a stroke or heart attack, which would prompt you to seek emergency medical care.

While changes like this can leave us feeling uncertain, they show just how cautious the approach is to vaccine safety. Even very rare potential issues lead to a cautious response.

Can I still spread COVID-19 once I’m vaccinated?
It’s not known if getting vaccinated will prevent you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to others. That’s why it’s still key to keep wearing masks and keeping distance from others, even when you’re vaccinated. What is known is that getting vaccinated protects you from getting extremely ill from COVID-19 and needing hospital care. The bottom line is getting vaccinated = less COVID-19 = life getting back to normal faster.

Learn more
Be sure you’re getting information about COVID-19 vaccines from trusted sources. Find reliable information from the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness, Health Canada, Immunize Canada, Canadian Medical Association, and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

Nova Scotia COvid-19 quick links

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19
List of COVID-19 exposures in Nova Scotia
Getting tested for COVID-19
Public Health mobile testing unit locations
Rapid testing locations
Self-isolating guidelines
Mental health and well-being

Nova Scotia COVID-19 resources
Download the free COVID Alert app

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Comments

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Submitted By: Michael whitehead

I am 57 years old and i will not take the astrazenaca vaccine that is recommended for my age group. My preference is Phizer or Moderna and would like to be vaccinated ASAP. Why am i not afforded an avenue to choose my preferred vaccination and when will either the Phizer or Moderna be available to me?

Submitted By: Doctors Nova Scotia

Hi Michael; thanks for your comment. You aren’t required to take the AstraZeneca vaccine. You can wait until government announces that your age group is eligible to get vaccinated with the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna). Right now, they are vaccinating people aged 65 and older. This website has approximate dates of when each age group will be able to book: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/vaccine/#supply-distribution