Coronavirus (COVID-19): vaccine

Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 immunization plan and vaccine rollout to help protect us against COVID-19. The plan includes 3 phases. Each phase identifies when different groups can receive the vaccine.

Vaccines help protect you from viruses and bacteria that cause illnesses. They also protect everyone around you. The more people in a community who are vaccinated and protected from COVID-19, the harder it is for the virus to spread. COVID-19 vaccines must be approved for use by Health Canada.

COVID-19 immunization plan

Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 immunization plan includes 3 phases. Each phase identifies when different groups can receive the vaccine. The plan is flexible to allow for increases or decreases in vaccine supply. Every person in Nova Scotia who wants the COVID-19 vaccine will receive it for free. Learn more: map of COVID-19 vaccination clinics.  

Vaccine considerations

Each vaccine has different rules on how you can move and store the vaccine. Nova Scotia's COVID-19 immunization plan looks at:

  • when and where the vaccine supply is delivered and moved within the province
  • specialized equipment needed to move and store the vaccine
  • what COVID-19 activity looks like in the province
  • National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) guidance on the use of the vaccine
  • guidance from the vaccine manufacturer on how each vaccine can be used
  • recommendations on who should receive the vaccine
  • who can receive the vaccine based on age

Learn more: recommendation on the use of COVID-19 vaccine (National Advisory Committee on Immunization).

Approved vaccines

Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty, Moderna Spikevax and AstraZeneca Vaxzevria are approved for use in Canada as 2-dose COVID-19 vaccines. Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) is approved for use in Canada as 1-dose COVID-19 vaccine. Right now, only Pfizer and Moderna are approved for use in Nova Scotia.

AstraZeneca is no longer available in Nova Scotia. Anyone who has an allergy to any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) vaccine should consult their healthcare provider.

Each vaccine has different recommendations on who can receive it and different levels of efficacy.

Vaccine interchangeability

Nova Scotians have options when it comes to receiving their second dose.

Anyone who received a first dose of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca can receive a second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna.

Getting the vaccine

When you can book an appointment is based on your age. Most Nova Scotians will receive their vaccine by age group (groups are in 5-year increments). Vaccination clinics are open throughout the province.

Community-based vaccination clinics are physically accessible. People who own their own wheelchairs or walkers should bring them. Wheelchairs are available on site for those who need them. Community clinics also have clearly marked directional signage for people with low vision and printed materials for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

If you need support during your appointment, provide details when you book the appointment to help remove any barriers when you visit the vaccination clinic.

People with significant health-related challenges who are not able to leave their homes to get the COVID-19 vaccine may be eligible to receive the vaccine at home. You need to call 211 to complete the screening process to confirm your eligibility. Once your eligibility is confirmed, it should take 2 to 3 weeks for the Continuing Care team to follow-up with you to schedule your appointment.

Interpretation services are available when booking an appointment by phone or if your appointment is at a community vaccination clinic or pharmacy vaccination clinic.

Other than age, considerations for when you can receive the vaccine include:

  • recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccines from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization
  • who is at the highest risk based on the epidemiology in Nova Scotia
  • vaccine supply

Medical exceptions

Some Nova Scotians may not be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

As part of the proof of full vaccination protocol, you need proof of full vaccination to participate in most events and activities that gather people together. There’s a medical exception process that allows for a valid medical exception. A medical exception can only be provided by a nurse practitioner or doctor. Medical conditions that qualify for the exception are very specific and limited. Learn more: medical exceptions for COVID-19 vaccination.

Non-residents

If you’re not a permanent resident of Nova Scotia (you don’t have a Nova Scotia Health Card), you can still receive the vaccine while you’re in Nova Scotia. Learn more: if you don’t have a Nova Scotia Health Card.

Fully vaccinated

In Nova Scotia, you're considered fully vaccinated 14 days after you have any of the following COVID-19 vaccines:

  • 2 doses of AstraZeneca or COVISHIELD
  • 2 doses of Moderna
  • 2 doses of Pfizer
  • 2 doses of a combination of COVID-19 vaccines (AstraZeneca, COVISHIELD, Moderna and Pfizer)
  • 1 dose of Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)
  • complete series of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the World Health Organization

If you received 1 or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine that's not approved by Health Canada and the World Health Organization, you’re not considered fully vaccinated and need two doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna).

Anyone who received 1 dose of Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) can receive 1 additional dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) to be optimally protected.

Additional (third) doses

You can get 1 additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine if you’re:

  • moderately or severely immunocompromised
  • required to travel for work

Immunocompromised

Immunocompromised people, including those taking medications that can substantially affect their immune system, are at higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends 1 additional dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine for moderately or severely immunocompromised people to increase immune response to the virus.

Moderately or severely immunocompromised people who received 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine can receive 1 additional dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after their last dose.

If you’re eligible for an additional dose, you can book an appointment.

You also need to bring a list of medications and other supporting documentation (like prescription bottles and insurance notes) to your appointment that shows you meet the criteria for moderate to severe immunocompromise. Vaccination clinics will review your medications and supporting documentation to make sure you’re eligible and that your medication substantially affects your immune system.

If the vaccination clinic can’t confirm you meet the criteria for moderate to severe immunocompromise you can’t receive an additional dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at the clinic.

Learn more: moderately or severely immunocompromised and medications that can substantially affect your immune system.

Work-related travel

Nova Scotia residents who are required to travel for work to a country that doesn’t accept a combination of COVID-19 vaccines may be eligible to receive 1 additional dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine to meet the travel or self-isolation requirements within the country they’re going to for work.

To be eligible for 1 additional dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine you must:

  • be a Nova Scotia resident
  • provide an official copy of proof of vaccination for each of the 1 doses of COVID-19 vaccine you have received
  • provide written confirmation from your employer that you’re required to travel to a country as part of your job and that country doesn’t accept a combination of COVID-19 vaccines and that the travel is either already planned or will be scheduled within 90 days of your request
  • provide official confirmation or documentation from the country or location of travel that a combination of COVID-19 vaccines doesn’t permit entry or requires isolation upon entry

Before travelling, you need to submit your information and supporting documents to adminins@novascotia.ca for review. Make sure you include your Health Card number and phone number. You will receive a response within 1 to 2 weeks approving or denying your request. If your request is approved, you receive details on how to receive 1 additional dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Proof of vaccination

If you get a COVID-19 vaccine in Nova Scotia, your Nova Scotia COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination includes the date, time, location, type, brand and lot number of COVID-19 vaccine you received. Within the province, you can use your Nova Scotia COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination to show proof of vaccination.

Your Nova Scotia COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination can be used for travel. If you travel internationally, you may need proof of vaccination with the standardized QR code. Proof of vaccination with the standardized QR code was available starting 4 October 2021. You should always check with the jurisdiction you’re travelling to about what documentation they accept as proof of vaccination.

As part of the proof of full vaccination protocol, you need proof of full vaccination to participate in discretionary, non-essential events and activities that gather people together (like going to restaurants, movies, sports events, theatre performances, social events and the gym).

As part of the mandatory vaccination protocol for high-risk settings, most people who work in the public sector providing services and supports to vulnerable people need proof of full vaccination.

Get your Nova Scotia COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination

If you provide an email when you book your vaccination appointment, you receive a digital copy of your Nova Scotia COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination by email (email is sent from noreply@canimmunize.ca). You can also get your Nova Scotia COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination online. Make sure you have your Health Card and the email address or phone number you used to book your vaccination appointment.

If you don’t provide an email when you book your vaccination appointment or you didn’t receive a digital copy of your Nova Scotia COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination by email, call 1-833-797-7772 (Monday to Friday, 7am to 7pm) to provide an email or request a copy of your proof of vaccination. You need to call from a Canadian phone number and be in Canada when you call.

Update your proof of vaccination

If your Nova Scotia COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination has an error or missing information, call 1-833-797-7772 (Monday to Friday, 7am to 7pm) to report an issue with your proof of vaccination. You can also call to report an issue if you can’t get your Nova Scotia COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination online using your Canadian Health Card number and the email address or phone number you used to book your vaccination appointment.

When you call to report an issue with your proof of vaccination, you may need to provide your:

  • name
  • date of birth
  • email address or phone number you used to book your appointment
  • Health Card number
  • type, date and location of COVID-19 vaccine you received (for each dose)

After you report an issue, it should take 2 weeks to get a new digital copy of your Nova Scotia COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination. It can take longer if more information is needed.

Out-of-province vaccines

Permanent residents of Nova Scotia who receive 1 or 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in another province, territory or country (or outside a Nova Scotia vaccination clinic like a community, pharmacy or drive-thru clinic) can have their out-of-province vaccinations included on their Nova Scotia COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination. People who are not permanent residents of Nova Scotia but receive at least 1 dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the province can also have their out-of-province vaccinations included on their Nova Scotia COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination.

If you’re a permanent resident of Nova Scotia, you can update your Nova Scotia COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination to include your out-of-province vaccinations.

You need to provide proof that you received the COVID-19 vaccine, including the date, location, type, brand and lot number of COVID-19 vaccine you received. Documentation must be issued by the government or the organization that administered the vaccine and show the name of the issuing government or the name and civic address of the organization that administered the vaccine.

Before you start, make sure you have:

  • official proof of vaccination from the province, territory, state, or country where you received 1 or 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine
  • Health Card number (if you have one)
  • government-issued identification (ID) card

It should take 3 weeks to update your Nova Scotia COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination. It can take longer if more information is needed.

Vaccine data

Find information on the COVID-19 data dashboard about vaccine doses received and administered. Data includes total doses and second doses, vaccine supply (received and administered), vaccine uptake by age group and cases by vaccination status.