Questions & Answers

Questions & Answers





COVID-19 Vaccine Questions and Answers:


1.    Why is COVID-19 immunization important?


·         We all must do our part to protect one another. Immunization is the single most effective means of protecting yourself, and your loved ones from COVID-19.

·         The COVID-19 vaccine will help prevent severe illness in our most vulnerable and at-risk populations and outcomes are better in terms of hospitalizations, ICU admissions and death.

·         Although some individuals are at greater risk, like our Elders, even healthy people can get sick from the virus and some have died. The vaccine will help protect you, your family, and your community.

·         The vaccine will also reduce the strain on our healthcare system.


2.    Who will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine first?


·         Several groups have been identified as priorities and they will be vaccinated first. These include, among others:

o   front-line healthcare workers

o   people living in long-term care facilities

o   Elders and some adults in Indigenous communities


3.    What do I need to bring to an immunization clinic?


·         You need to bring your Alberta Health Care card, which has your Personal Health Number (PHN) on it.

·         If you don’t have the card with you, health care professionals can look it up for you.

·         If you don't have a PHN at all, we can help you get one.

·         It’s important to have because it gives you access to all health services, not just immunizations. 

·         For our staff to ask for a PHN on your behalf, we would call:

o   310.0000

o   780.415.2288

·         Or you can ask for a PHN on your own by calling: 

o   310.0000

o   780.427.1432

·         You will need the following information to obtain a PHN:

1.     Last Name

2.     First Name

3.     Date of Birth

4.     Gender 


·         Remember to follow all safety procedures at the clinic like wearing a mask, sanitizing your hands, and maintaining your distance from other people in the clinic.



4.    What should I expect once I get to the immunization clinic?


·         Once you arrive at the clinic, you will go through a screening process for current COVID-19 illness.

·         The door screeners will ask you questions and take your temperature.

·         Some of the questions they will ask include:

o   Any symptoms of COVID-19 illness

o   Have you been in close contact with anyone with COVID disease

o   have you traveled out of the country in the last 14 days

o   have you been told to isolate at home

·         Once you have passed through door screening, you will be asked to wait until the nurse is ready for you. 

·         The nurse will be wearing appropriate personal protective equipment

·         The nurse will ask you some health history questions to be sure you can be immunized, such as: 

o   Have you received a COVID-19 vaccine before today?

o   Have you ever had an allergic reaction to any vaccine?

o   Have you ever had a severe allergic reaction to any medications, such as laxatives, or skin creams?

o   Have you received any other vaccine in the last 14 days like a flu shot?

o   Have you ever tested positive for COVID-19?

o   Do you have any diseases that weaken your immune system, or are you taking any medication that affects your immune system?

§   autoimmune disease like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, MS or taking any medications such as steroids, treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, or receiving treatment for cancer?

o   Do you take blood thinner medications?

o   Have you had lymph nodes removed from your arms or had a mastectomy?

o   Are you pregnant or breastfeeding?



5.    Who should NOT receive the vaccine?


·         If you are sick with an infection (like a cold), with fever, cough and sore throat, you should wait until your symptoms are completely gone before getting the vaccine.

·         The first clinical trials only included adults.

o   Children younger than 18 years of age are not eligible to receive the vaccine

·         Clinical trials did not include some specific groups of people:

o   Pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding, and

o   people with auto-immune diseases, and

o   people who are immune-suppressed due to medication or disease.

·         People with these conditions should talk with their doctors about the vaccine and get a recommendation from their doctor to be immunized. 



6.    What if I have another disease like diabetes, HIV or hepatitis? Is it still safe for me to get the vaccine?


·         People with stable chronic conditions were included in the clinical trials.

o   For example, diabetes, asthma, chronic lung or liver or heart or kidney disease, high blood pressure, hepatitis B or C, stable HIV infection, etc.   

·         It is still safe for you to receive the vaccine, but your condition should be stable.

·         Let the nurse know at the clinic if you have one of these chronic conditions.



7.    Can my children or grandchildren come with me to an immunization clinic?


·         It is strongly encouraged you DO NOT bring children under the age of 18 to the immunization clinic.

·         AFCC will not allow children and into the immunization area to reduce potential spread of the virus and contamination.

·         As well, AFCC is unable to provide childcare services.

·         Family members who accompany seniors to the clinic will also be asked to wait outside in their vehicle or in a waiting area if transportation was through Calgary Transit.

·         We will have helpers on site to look after you once you arrive.



8.    Does the COVID-19 vaccine cause side effects?


·         Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects.

·         Most often the side effects from COVID vaccines are mild and go away after a few days.

·         You might experience mild side effects:

o   soreness where the needle was given;

o   feeling tired; mild headache;

o   mild fever and chills;

o   mild body & joint aches; and

o   some people may have a fever.

·         Keep in mind that these side effects indicate that your immune system is responding to the vaccine.

·         These side effects are expected with COVID vaccines. They do not mean that you’re allergic to the vaccine

·         A very rare reaction to this vaccine is a severe allergic reaction – with hives, itchiness & difficulty swallowing,  

o   If you have severe allergies to other drugs or medications you should contact your doctor to discuss if you should have the COVID vaccine.


9.    Do I still need to follow public health measures, like wearing a mask, after I am vaccinated for COVID-19?


Yes, because:

·         It may take time for everyone who wants a COVID-19 immunization to get one.

·         While the vaccine may prevent you from getting sick, it is unknown whether you can still carry and transmit the virus to others after immunization.

·         Until more is understood about how well the vaccine works, continuing with precautions, such as wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing, and washing hands frequently, will be important.


10.  How long will the protection from this vaccine last?


·         From original & ongoing clinical trials we know the protection lasts many months

·         This length of protection continues to be studied.

·         It may turn out that we need a dose every year or two.  We will know more in 2021.


11.  Is one vaccine better than the other – Pfizer & Moderna?


·         Both vaccines were demonstrated to be very safe, & with a protection level of 94-95%.

·         Based on the information we have, these two vaccines are very similar, with just some important differences in cold storage and when the second dose should be given.



12.  Can a person have the first dose with one vaccine and second dose with the other?


·         At this point we don’t know, as this wasn’t studied in the original clinical trials. Until we know more, with other studies underway now, it is recommended that a person gets both doses with the same vaccine.


13.  If a person has already had COVID-19 disease, should they have the vaccine?


·         Yes, because it isn’t clear how long immunity lasts after you’ve had COVID disease.

·         People who have had COVID disease were included in the clinical trials, & the vaccine proved to be safe and effective in those people. 



14.  It seems that COVID-19 vaccines were developed and tested very quickly. Are they still safe?


·         Because COVID is a worldwide crisis, many pharmaceutical companies made developing a vaccine their top priority.

·         That does not mean the companies took any short cuts.

·         Companies had already been working on vaccine development against other types of coronaviruses, so they weren’t starting from scratch.

·         Companies completed the required clinical trials, the same as for other new vaccines. 

·         Health Canada added more regulators to assess & review the clinical trial information

·         Only vaccines that are safe and effective are approved for use in Canada.


15.  Can this vaccine give me COVID-19 disease?


·         No, the vaccine cannot infect people with COVID-19.  It is an inactivated vaccine.


16.    Can this vaccine change or affect my DNA?


·         No.  Vaccines don’t affect our genetics or DNA in any cell.

·         This vaccine delivers the instructions to our body’s cells to make a protein from the outside wall of the COVID-19 virus. These instructions are listed in a messenger molecule called mRNA (messenger RNA).  Once the mRNA instructions are delivered to the human cell, the cell destroys the mRNA. 

·         The cells produce the COVID protein according to the instructions.  Then, our immune system recognizes these protein as “outsiders” & produces antibodies against this protein. 

·         Later, if we are exposed to the COVID-19 virus, our immune system remembers and recognizes the COVID protein, and starts producing lots of antibodies, fighting off the disease.


17.   I read a news report that some people died after receiving the vaccine. Is this true?


·         Yes, there was a report from Norway in which some seniors died in the weeks after receiving the vaccine.

·         The individuals were over 80 years of age, living in long term care homes, they had existing severe health conditions, and some were terminally ill.

·         Health officials investigated each of the individual’s situation and identified that it was possible that in their frail health state, that normally expected side effects from the vaccine may have contributed to their deaths, or they may have died from something else. 

·         Health officials recommend that very frail & terminally ill patients should be assessed on a case-by-case basis regarding the risks and benefits of immunization

·         Medical experts still advise that the protective benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine far outweigh the minimal risks for most people, including the elderly.  COVID-19 disease remains a very serious risk form many people.



18.  Will this vaccine protect against the new variants of COVID-19? (UK or South Africa mutations). 


·         Yes, as far as we know right now.  It is normal to see viruses mutate frequently, and this virus has had many minor mutations over the last year, to produce “variants” that are not much different than the original virus.  However, these minor mutations do not seem to be so different that the vaccines won’t work.  

·         It is possible that after a while, perhaps a year or two, the virus may mutate in a major way to produce a new “strain” of the virus, which may be quite different from the original virus. If these mutations are quite different, it may an adjustment of the vaccines, just like the flu vaccine is adjusted every year. Studies of this question are ongoing. 

·         The vaccine will protect against the virus that is circulating right now in Canada. 



19.  Have Indigenous people been consulted about the immunization rollout?


·         Indigenous leaders have been and continue to work closely with the Government of Canada to address COVID-19.

·         It was also through these consultations that the priority groups were established.

·         Indigenous leaders have been vocal throughout the pandemic and will continue to hold the federal and provincial governments' feet to the fire on the immunization to ensure our people are treated equitably during the rollout.

·         In Calgary, the Aboriginal Friendship Centre, Siksika Health Services and Okaki (which conducts all on-reserve immunization plans in Alberta) designed the roll-out strategy for Calgary.

·         We have Indigenous health advisors on our team, and we have consulted Elders to ensure we create a culturally safe environment at the immunization clinic.



20.  It wouldn’t be the first-time governments have experimented on Indigenous people. How do we know that isn’t the case with this vaccine?


·         We acknowledge the many atrocities experienced by our people; however, the vaccines are being given to non-Indigenous people too.

·         Almost a million Canadians have been immunized so far.

·         Indigenous people in Alberta have had a high rate of disease, so this is a high-risk population that is a priority to protect as early as possible.

·         Social media has become a breeding ground for conspiracy theories.

·         Go to trusted sources to get information about COVID-19.

·         For more information we encourage you to visit the websites below.

o   COVID-19 vaccines and Indigenous peoples (Indigenous Services Canada)

o   COVID-19 vaccines (Government of Canada)

·         These are sources that have been vetted by health care professionals AND in consultation with Indigenous leaders.




21.  Why is AFCC rolling out the immunization program?


·         AFCC was approached by Siksika Health Services to work together on a rollout plan for Calgary’s Indigenous population.

·         AFCC is a leader in the COVID response for Calgary’s Indigenous population. On March 23, 2020, AFCC established the Indigenous COVID-19 Task Force for Action.

·         In 2020, AFCC supported over 18,000 individuals with emergency hampers, bagged lunches, toiletry and cleaning items, hot meals, and activity kits for families.

·         Our membership trusts us to provide supports and services in a culturally safe way.

·         We have also partnered with OKAKI Health to deliver the rollout.

·         OKAKI conducts immunization clinics on-reserve and has established strong relationships with our people.

·         The clinics will be held at the Circle of Wisdom Elders and Seniors Centre and we have support from the Circle of 7 Brothers, which works to meet the basic needs, mental health and spiritual concerns of First Nation, Métis and Inuit people living in the Treaty 7 and historic Northwest Métis homeland who have been affected by the pandemic.