We are answering some commonly asked questions about the second COVID vaccine. Keep on reading to know more!

It is perfectly normal and understandable to have questions about the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. While the vaccination is inching closer to the light at the end of the tunnel as availability picks up speed in Canada. There are some lingering concerns that we all must ensure to prevent the spread of the virus and combat the COVID-19 virus once and for all.

You may have questions such as the side effects of the second dose and if the second dose is needed.

Here are answers to some of the commonest questions Canadians have asked about the second COVID-19 vaccine.

What Vaccine Should I Get for My Second COVID Shot?

It depends on your first dose. Whenever possible, it is best to get the same vaccine for both your first and second dose.

However, there may be exceptions in the following cases:

  • If you have taken BioNTech or Pfizer and they have become housebound, you can try AstraZeneca/Oxford, which can be transported easily.
  • Rarely, someone may have had a severe allergic reaction to the first dose of the vaccine.

What Does The Data Say about Mixing Vaccines?

Before answering this, it is best for you to know that mixing vaccines is not new. Similar vaccines from other manufacturers may be used interchangeably in routine vaccination programs.

Experts are recommending “mix and match” based on studies. While mixing of vaccines was not being tested in initial clinical trials, recent studies have tested the immune response and safety of mixing vaccines.

Studies in the UK, Germany, and France suggest both immune response and safety from mixed COVID-19 vaccines.

What Do Health Officials Recommend For Second COVID Shots? 

Let’s break down according to the provinces: 

  • Alberta: Every Albertan above 12 years should get their second dose when it is scheduled. While a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine provides about 80% protection against severe outcomes, including hospitalization and death, a second dose is needed to get the best and most long-lasting protection.
  • British Columbia: As with all provinces, they are suggesting vaccination in phases. The first two phases include the elderly and at-risk population. Stage three and four are for younger individuals distributed in five year age increments.
  •  Manitoba: Experts recommend the use of both vaccine doses.
  • New Brunswick: They believe in” You are not properly protected until after your second dose. Do your part and get fully vaccinated.”
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: Experts recommend taking both doses to reduce severe illness and death due to COVID-19.
  • Northwest Territories: Moderna vaccine is approved for people 18 years of age and older, and Pfizer-BioNTech is approved for people 12 years of age and older.
  • Nova Scotia: Residents get a choice of vaccine for the second dose. Those who received the first dose of Pfizer BioNtech, Moderna or AstraZeneca can receive a second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna. Nova Scotia allowed the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for second doses only on 1 June 2021.
  • Nunavut: Experts believe “Vaccinating Nunavummiut is a vital step on Nunavut’s Path. It is one of the best defences we currently have against COVID-19. The vaccine is not mandatory. No one will be forced to take the vaccine, and no one will receive the vaccine without consenting first.
  • Ontario: Both the doses are essential to be considered as fully immunized.
  • Prince Edward Island: The experts recommend, “The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) currently recommends that if you received an mRNA vaccine for your first dose (either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) that you receive the same vaccine product for your second dose. If that same mRNA vaccine product is not available at the time of your appointment (or is not known), you can receive a different mRNA vaccine for your second dose.”
  • Quebec: The recommended interval is eight weeks or more between doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Experts believe that one week after receiving the second dose, you will be adequately protected.
  • Saskatchewan: Experts suggest all residents 12+ to receive their 1st dose and are eligible to receive their 2nd dose 28 days after the 1st dose.
  • Yukon: Adults and youth age 12 and older should take both doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
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How To Book A Second COVID Shot?

You can get all the details of booking the second COVID shot here.

How Long Between the First and Second COVID Vaccine?

For everyone about 12 years of age can take the second dose as follows:

  • Pfizer or Moderna: About 28 days after the first dose
  • AstraZeneca: About 8 to 12 weeks

However, this may change based on your age, where you live, and the supply available in your area. For people above 40 years of age, the government intends to vaccinate them by eight weeks at least.

What Are the Side Effects of The Second Dose Of COVID Vaccine

For all vaccines, the incidence of adverse effects is rare. When present, side effects are mild, including chills, headaches, and nausea. Besides, these side effects last only for a day or two. 

Do I need a second dose if I’ve already had the coronavirus?

Theoretically, your body should develop some natural immunity after being exposed to the coronavirus.

However, experts recommend two doses as it is not known till how long the immunity may last.

So, having both vaccines is the best way to ensure effective and long-lasting protection against the virus.

Are there any reasons why I shouldn’t have my second dose?

Everyone should take both the second doses.

However, in some cases, you may need to delay the dose. Some reasons for the same include:

  • You are really unwell and have a temperature above 38.5ºC
  • A serious allergic reaction to the first dose
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Can I Get Other Vaccines At The Same Time I am Taking COVID 19 vaccine?

The shorter answer to the question is a NO. It is best not to take other vaccines while getting COVID-19 vaccines.

If you need to take another vaccine:

  • The ideal gap between the two vaccines is 14 days. Besides, keeping a gap between two vaccines allows you to understand which vaccine may have caused side effects if one happens.
  • Keep a gap of about 28 days after taking two doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine doses.

Will I Need to Follow All the COVID-19 Vaccines Even After Getting Both the COVID-19 Doses?

Yes! It is essential to take all the precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 unless experts believe that we have reached a level of community vaccination, suggesting widespread immunity.

Measures include keeping a distance of at least 2 metres from others, wearing a mask, and washing your hands often.

How do we know there won’t be long-term side effects?

The answer to your question lies in the research. The majority of the side effects that were seen were mild to moderate and lasted for a few days. Besides, most of the symptoms subsided on their own.

After the approval of the vaccine, government agencies and scientists monitor its effect to understand its safety and determine the rare side effects. The monitoring is especially carried out on pregnant women or those with specific medical conditions.

Will the Second Dose Prevent Against The New Strain of The Virus?

The data on the efficacy of the currently authorized vaccines against the new variants are still evolving. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization in Canada continuously monitors the evidence and will keep on updating the recommendations as needed.

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