Immunizations are being distributed to Canada's front line workers and vulnerable people. What does this mean for you?

On December 14, 2020, the first COVID-19 vaccines were given to Canadians. Since then, thousands more have been administered across the country. Here's what you need to know about the vaccine so far:

What is the COVID-19 vaccine and how does it work?

Vaccines help us protect ourselves by training our bodies to fight an illness-causing virus. The first COVID-19 vaccines do this by using a molecule called "messenger RNA," or "mRNA." The mRNA teaches cells to create the coronavirus's spike protein, mimicking the virus itself. This should trigger an immune response, helping our bodies prepare to fight the real virus if needed.

When will I get the vaccine

There are currently two vaccines to look out for: Pfizer and BioNTech, which is currently being distributed, and Moderna, which is in the approval decision-making process at Health Canada. As supplies and doses become available, rollout will occur in stages with the main focus over the beginning of 2021 being on priority groups. This includes healthcare and front-line workers, seniors, and Indigenous communities. Vaccinations will continue throughout the year, with the general public to receive it by fall 2021.

What's next?

While there is a positive outlook for the coming months, the pandemic is still far from over. Mass vaccination is a long process and building up immunity takes time; both the Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses (21 and 28 days apart, respectively) for effective protection. It is also unclear at this point what level of individual immunity is enough to create community immunity. Until then, it's important to we continue to take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As always, be sure to wash your hands, wear a mask, and observe physical distancing.

When will I get the vaccine?

We don't yet have timelines for widespread vaccine adoption. Front line workers, especially those who work in long-term care homes, are at the top of the list right now. As more and more of the population's most vulnerable people receive the vaccine, the jab will become more widely available. Odds are good you'll be able to get the shot by summer. We've got our fingers crossed!

In the meantime, stay safe.

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