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.
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).
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-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 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.
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.
Getting the vaccine
You can book an appointment if you’re 12 and older. Most appointments need to be booked in advance. You may also be able to go to a community drop-in clinic, outreach clinic or pharmacy drop-in clinic.
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
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.
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.
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