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.

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

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

  • are less effective than mRNA vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna)
  • are not available for a booster dose (booster doses must be mRNA vaccines)
  • 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

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that people under 30 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.

Vaccine interchangeability

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

Getting the vaccine

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends 8 weeks between a first and second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Four weeks (28 days) is the minimum time between doses in Nova Scotia. Vaccination clinics are open throughout the province.

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 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

Children 5 to 11

Pfizer is now 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 children 12 or 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.

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)
  • 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the World Health Organization (including Covaxin, Sinovac or 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 and need 2 doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna).

If you received only 1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccine that is authorized by the World Health Organization (but not approved by Health Canada) you’re not considered fully vaccinated and need 1 additional dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna).

Additional doses

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

  • eligible for a booster dose
  • moderately or severely immunocompromised
  • required to travel for work

Booster dose

You can receive a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine 168 days after you're fully vaccinated if you're:

  • a long-term care resident
  • a designated caregiver of a long-term care resident and have 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine with less than 28 days between your doses
  • 70 or older
  • a frontline healthcare worker and have 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine with less than 28 days between your doses

You can also get a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine if you received 2 doses of AstraZeneca.

Members of First Nations or African Nova Scotian communities who are 30 or older are eligible for a booster dose. These doses will be available at clinics organized in partnership with First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities. More details to come about scheduling when clinics are available.

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.

Immunocompromised people are also eligible to receive a booster dose 168 days after their third 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.

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 (a letter, email or link to government website) 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, 6am to 10pm) 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, 6am to 10pm) 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 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).

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.