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.

As vaccine supply increases, access to the vaccine will also increase. Everyone who wants to get the vaccine should have the first dose by the end of June 2021. Learn more: map of COVID-19 vaccination clinics.  

Vaccine will be provided through:

  • African Nova Scotian clinics
  • community clinics
  • First Nation clinics in Mi’kmaw communities
  • healthcare worker clinics
  • in-home vaccination for homebound people
  • long-term care clinics
  • mobile clinics
  • outreach clinics
  • pharmacy clinics
  • primary care provider clinics

As part of the planning process, work is underway to explore how to work with primary care providers (doctors) to see how vaccine can be provided to Nova Scotians in the community through these professionals. Providers will need to follow strict temperature and storage requirements. The planning process also looks at different ways to support mass immunization like community 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).

Review and changes

The COVID-19 immunization plan will be reviewed as national guidance, epidemiology and vaccine supply changes.

Approved vaccines

Three vaccines, Pfizer BioNtech, Moderna and AstraZeneca, are approved for use in Canada. These vaccines are given in 2 doses. The province may receive other brands of COVID-19 vaccine as they’re approved for use by Health Canada. Right now, Pfizer BioNtech 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 (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 BioNtech, Moderna or AstraZeneca can receive a second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna.

Supply and distribution

The first doses of COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Nova Scotia on 15 December 2020. When vaccine arrives in Nova Scotia it's distributed to cold storage sites. There are 10 cold storage sites across the province – Amherst, Antigonish, Bridgewater, Cape Breton, Dartmouth, Halifax, Kentville, Truro and Yarmouth.

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. Clinics include 10 community-based vaccination clinics, pharmacy vaccination clinics and primary care provider vaccination clinics. There are also 4 drive-thru vaccination clinics to help people who have mobility and sensory issues have easier access to the vaccine. You may also be able to go to a drop-in clinic without an appointment.

The 10 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 vaccine may be eligible to receive their first dose 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. In-home vaccination appointments are expected to take place in July and August 2021.

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

Some Nova Scotians may not be able to receive the vaccine because of age or health condition. As more information about the vaccine becomes available, information about who can receive the vaccine may change. You should consult your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you have any concerns about receiving the vaccine. Learn more: who should and shouldn’t get the vaccine.

First Nations will host their own COVID-19 vaccination clinics in 13 Mi’kmaw communities across the province. People who live in the 13 communities will be able to receive their vaccine at a local health centre within each community. The Government of Nova Scotia will provide vaccine for the clinics.

Anticipated appointment availability by age group

Appointment bookings will be available by age group. All appointments need to be booked in advance. Do not go to a vaccination clinic unless you have an appointment.

Age group Anticipated start for booking appointments
80 and older March 2021
75 to 79, 70 to 74, 65 to 69, 60 to 64, 55 to 59 April 2021
50 to 54, 45 to 49, 40 to 44, 35 to 39, 30 to 34, 25 to 29, 20 to 24, 12 to 19 May 2021

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.

Second dose rescheduling

The province’s goal is to immunize as many Nova Scotians as quickly as possible to reach a high rate of population immunity. Second dose appointments are being rescheduled for an earlier date. You’ll receive an email when it’s your turn to reschedule your second dose appointment. If you didn’t provide an email when you booked your appointment, call 1-833-797-7772 (Monday to Friday, 7am to 7pm) to reschedule or provide your email address. You need to call from a Canadian phone number and be in Canada when you call.

Phase 1: initial doses and planning

How the vaccine will roll out in different areas of the province depends on vaccine shipments and distribution. Vaccine will be distributed on a rotation to cold storage sites as it’s received, until supply increases.

The first phase of Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 immunization plan focuses on:

  • healthcare workers who work directly with patients in hospital or patients in their home
  • paramedics and medical first responders
  • people who work in long-term care facilities
  • people who live in long-term care facilities and their designated caregivers
  • people who live and work in Department of Community Services facilities like adult residential care centres and regional rehabilitation centres

Phase 2: expanding access

The second phase of Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 immunization plan expands access to the vaccine and focuses on:

  • anyone who works in a hospital and may come into contact with patients, starting with the 60 and older age group
  • community healthcare providers who provide in-person patient care (limited to medical doctors, nurses, dentists, dental hygienists, denturists, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who are currently licensed to practice and dental assistants and continuing care assistants)
  • people who live in large group settings (correctional facilities, shelters and temporary foreign worker housing) and those who work directly with them
  • people who are 80 and older
  • people who are 75 to 79
  • front-line police officers

Phase 3: all Nova Scotians

The third phase of Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 immunization plan focuses on all Nova Scotians who didn’t receive the vaccine in earlier phases, including all professions and people with health conditions. Most Nova Scotians will be able to receive their vaccine during phase 3.

In this phase, Nova Scotians can receive the vaccine by age group (groups are in five-year increments). Age groups include:

  • 70 to 74
  • 65 to 69
  • 60 to 64
  • 55 to 59
  • 50 to 54
  • 45 to 49
  • 40 to 44
  • 35 to 39
  • 30 to 34
  • 25 to 29
  • 20 to 24
  • 12 to 19

COVID-19 immunization record

If you get a COVID-19 vaccine in Nova Scotia your COVID-19 immunization record provides proof that you received the vaccine, including the date, time, location, type, brand and lot number of COVID-19 vaccine you received.

Your COVID-19 immunization record is not a vaccine passport and is only considered proof of vaccination within Nova Scotia. Before travelling, you need to check with the jurisdiction you are travelling to about what documentation they will accept as proof of vaccination.

How to get your immunization record

If you provide an email when you book an appointment, you will receive a digital copy of your immunization record (email is sent from noreply@canimmunize.ca). By providing an email you also receive appointment confirmations, reminders and your second dose booking email.

If you didn’t provide an email when you booked your appointment or you didn’t receive a digital copy of your immunization record, call 1-833-797-7772 (Monday to Friday, 7am to 7pm) to provide an email or request a copy of your record. You need to call from a Canadian phone number and be in Canada when you call.

You can also access your immunization record by visiting Your COVID-19 Immunization Record. You need to have your Health Card and the email address or phone number you used to book your appointment.

Vaccines outside of Nova Scotia

If you get a COVID-19 vaccine outside Nova Scotia it will not be part of your Nova Scotia immunization record. Nova Scotia can only confirm what vaccines were administered in Nova Scotia.

You can add your out-of-province immunizations to the province’s vaccine database through your local Public Health office. Official proof of out-of-province vaccination can’t be provided by Nova Scotia. If you need proof of out-of-province vaccination, you need to request proof from the jurisdiction where you received your vaccine.

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.