Coronavirus (COVID-19): vaccine

Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 immunization plan and vaccine rollout to help protect us against COVID-19.

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 outlines when different groups can receive the vaccine. Right now, you can get a COVID-19 vaccine if you’re 5 or older.

Vaccine considerations

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

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

Approved vaccines

Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty, Moderna Spikevax, Novavax Nuvaxovid 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 a 1-dose COVID-19 vaccine.

Recommendations

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

Viral vector vaccine

People who choose to receive a viral vector vaccine (AstraZeneca or Janssen) should be aware that AstraZeneca and Janssen:

  • are less effective than mRNA vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna)
  • are not available for a booster dose
  • have a risk of a serious but rare blood clotting disorder, Vaccine Induced Immune Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia (VITT), up to 6 weeks after you get vaccinated

People 29 or younger

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that people 29 or younger receive the Pfizer vaccine due to a rare but increased risk of myocarditis and pericarditis following the use of Moderna vaccine in this age group.

Children 5 to 11

Pfizer is approved for children 5 to 11. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends 8 weeks between a first and second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Children who receive both doses before they are 12 will receive 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine for children 5 to 11. Children who receive their first dose before they are 12 and their second dose when they are 12 will receive 1 dose of COVID-19 vaccine for children 5 to 11 and 1 dose of COVID-19 vaccine for people 12 and older.

Children 5 to 11 cannot get other vaccinations at the same time as their first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. You need to get other vaccines at least 14 days before or after the COVID-19 vaccine.

Immunocompromised children 6 to 17

Some immunocompromised children 6 to 17 can get the Moderna vaccine. This vaccine can only be booked through a healthcare provider.

Booster dose for children 12 to 17

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that people 12 to 17 receive a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine if they:

  • have an underlying health condition that may put them at high risk of severe illness due to COVID-19
  • are residents of congregate living settings (facilities where people live or stay overnight and use shared spaces like shelters, group homes, housing for workers and correctional facilities)
  • belong to a racialized or marginalized community where COVID-19 has a disproportionate impact

When you book a vaccination appointment, you should review the information provided about booster doses for people 12 to 17, including information about the risk of severe illness and the risk of myocarditis and pericarditis following an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Getting the vaccine

Vaccination clinics are open throughout the province.

Anyone who received their first dose can schedule their second dose appointment 56 days after the first dose. Anyone who is eligible for a booster dose can schedule an appointment for 168 days after the second dose. If you’re eligible for a second booster dose you can schedule an appointment for 120 days after the first booster dose.

Support during your appointment

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.

In-home appointments

People 12 and older 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, you will be contacted to schedule your appointment.

Interpretation services

If you need service in a language other than English, you can ask for an interpreter when you book your appointment by phone (over 125 different languages are available). If your appointment is at a pharmacy vaccination clinic, you have immediate access at the clinic to a phone-based interpreter in more than 240 languages.

If you test positive for COVID-19

You need to cancel or reschedule your vaccination appointment if you test positive for COVID-19. You can still get a COVID-19 vaccine or booster dose after you test positive for COVID-19.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you should wait:

  • at least 2 months to get a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine
  • at least 2 months to get second dose of COVID-19 vaccine (in addition to the time you need to wait after your first dose)
  • at least 3 months to get a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine (in addition to the time you need to wait after your second dose or previous booster)

Learn more: National Advisory Committee on Immunization Updated Guidance on COVID-19 vaccination Timing for Individuals Previously Infected (PDF).

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
  • 2 doses of Moderna
  • 2 doses of Pfizer
  • 2 doses of Novavax
  • 2 doses of a combination of COVID-19 vaccines (AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer and Novavax)
  • 1 dose of Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)
  • 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the World Health Organization but not approved by Health Canada (including Covaxin, Sinovac and Sinopharm)

If you received 1 or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine that's not approved by Health Canada and not authorized by the World Health Organization, you’re not considered fully vaccinated.

Additional doses

Additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine can boost immunity to improve protection and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

First booster dose

If you’re 12 or older, you can receive a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine 168 days after the second dose (or 168 days after 1 dose of Janssen).

If you’re pregnant, you can receive a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine 5 months after the second dose (or 5 months after 1 dose of Janssen).

Immunocompromised people (12 and older) can receive a first booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine 120 days after their third dose.

Second booster dose

You can receive a second booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine 120 days after your first booster dose if:

  • you’re 70 or older
  • you’re a resident of a long-term care facility or home licensed by the Department of Community Services under the Homes for Special Care Act

Members of First Nations communities who are 55 or older are eligible for a second booster dose. These doses are available at community clinics.

Additional dose for immunocompromised

You can receive 1 additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine if you’re moderately or severely immunocompromised (5 and older).

Immunocompromised people who are 5 and older, including those taking medications that can substantially affect their immune system, may have a reduced response to their first two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, putting them 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 and provide better protection against COVID-19.

People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised when they received their first 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine can receive 1 additional dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Immunocompromised people (12 and older) are also eligible to receive a first booster dose 120 days after their third dose. Right now, immunocompromised people can only receive a second booster dose if they meet the eligibility criteria for a second booster dose.

If you’re eligible for an additional dose, you can book an appointment. You can bring a list of medications and other supporting documentation (like prescription bottles and insurance notes) to your appointment if you have them.

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

Vaccine not approved by Health Canada

If you received a vaccine authorized by the World Health Organization but not approved by Health Canada you can receive a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna or Novavax) 168 days following your last dose of a 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, 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 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 and date 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 can’t update your proof of vaccination online if you’re outside Canada or your computer’s IP address is outside Canada.

You need to provide proof that you received the COVID-19 vaccine, including the date, 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 more doses of COVID-19 vaccine
  • Health Card number (if you have one)
  • government-issued identification (ID) card

It should take at least 3 weeks to update your Nova Scotia COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination. It can take longer if more information is needed (you will need to restart the process if more documentation is required).