My name is Kelly Ann Quinlan and I am 19 years old. I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at birth. My 24-year-old brother Michael also has cystic fibrosis, which is a challenge, as we both live in the same home but must live separately to a degree. We are very close to our parents and sometimes they struggle with the extra duties and constant cleaning that comes with raising two CF children.Read More
Given the already heavy health burden on Canadians with cystic fibrosis, we believe it necessary to shelter Canadians with cystic fibrosis from any additional risks that could be caused by COVID-19 related infections, and that Canadians with cystic fibrosis should be prioritized for vaccination.
Please note that the prioritization and distribution plans differ per province, and in some cases, they now also differ at a local level. While we strive to report the most up to date information, there may be inconsistencies with the reality some in our community are facing on the ground. We continue to seek clarity from public health authorities and clinicians across the country and are updating the following Q&A with the information we learn. In addition to checking provincial sites, we encourage everyone to also check your local health sites frequently for the most up to date information in your area.
Cystic Fibrosis Canada hosted an Ask the Experts webinar to help answer questions from the community about COVID-19 and CF. You can watch the webinar recording here.
The government of Canada has emphasized that vaccination is one of the most effective ways to protect our families, communities and ourselves against COVID-19. Evidence indicates that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19, including against Alpha and Delta variants of concern.
Having as many people vaccinated as possible may also reduce the risk of ongoing circulation of the virus and the appearance of future variants. Current evidence suggest that COVID-19 vaccines in Canada are effective at providing protection against the current known variants in Canada. However, there is a small percentage of the population who are vaccinated that may become infected, with or without symptoms, if they are exposed to the virus. The effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines on new variants of concern such as Omicron is being assessed by health authorities in Canada.
It is recommended that everyone become fully vaccinated for the best protection against infection. We strongly encourage people living with cystic fibrosis (CF), their families, and others in the CF community to follow the government’s recommendation and become fully vaccinated for the health and safety of everyone. It is also important for you to maintain your usual infection prevention precautions and to get booster shots if they become available to you.
In general, you are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 once you’ve received the complete number of doses in the series of the vaccination you have:
- For Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty or Moderna Spikevax vaccines - 2 weeks after your second dose in a 2-dose series
- For Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine - 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine
If you have received 1 dose of a 2-dose series, you are considered partially vaccinated and are encouraged to schedule an appointment as soon as possible to receive your second dose. The effectiveness of a 2-dose vaccine series increases after the second dose.
The Government of Canada has announced that current evidence shows it takes 2 weeks or more after the first dose to provide good protection and up to 2 weeks after the second dose to provide even higher protection. It is extremely important to return for your second dose at the time advised by your local health authority for longer-lasting protection against COVID-19.
Becoming fully vaccinated helps reduce your risk of serious illness; reduce the risk of other people catching the virus from you; and increase your likelihood of protection against infection.
Most provinces and territories are also providing a third vaccine shot or booster shot for additional protection against COVID-19. It is recommended that individuals moderately or severely immunocompromised due to disease or treatment get an additional vaccine dose or booster shot as they become available. Consult your local health authority as booster shot eligibility may differ by region. Find out more about booster shots online.
Most provinces and territories issue and use the Canadian COVID-19 proof of vaccination, which can be used to access services and facilitate travel within and outside of Canada.
Your vaccination status changes your risk of catching COVID-19 and becoming ill, but it does not change your risk of exposure to the virus out in the community. It is important to maintain your infection prevention precautions as restrictions are eased.
You can learn more and follow the steps to get your proof of vaccination from your specific province or territory at: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19/vaccines/life-after-vaccination/vaccine-proof.html
The Government of Canada has developed resources to help everyone make safe choices.
There is a COVID-19 visit risk calculator designed to help inform your decision about visiting or gathering with others during the COVID-19 pandemic. The assessment takes approximately 3 minutes to complete.
There is also a COVID-19 visit risk decision aid that is similarly designed to help inform your decision about visiting or gathering with others during the COVID-19 pandemic. This assessment is a little more comprehensive and takes approximately 10 minutes to complete.
Every visit, gathering and meeting is different, so you are encouraged to re-assess your risk level and your comfort level with risk as your situation changes.
You can also view some examples of activities that have been deemed safest, less safe and least safe at: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19/vaccines/life-after-vaccination.html#a5
As certain vaccination targets are met, public health authorities are gradually easing restrictive community focused public health measures. You can learn about any COVID-19 related measures in place in your province or territory and follow updates from your respective health authority at: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/symptoms/provincial-territorial-resources-covid-19.html
Health Canada is closely monitoring genetic variants of the virus that causes COVID-19, including the newest variant of concern called Omicron, as well as any potential future variants.
The federal government is working with manufactures and international regulators to assess the impact of the emerging variants on the effectiveness of approved vaccines and treatments. Canadians will be informed if a risk is identified.
Yes, you are encouraged to become fully vaccinated. The risk of re-infection with a variant is not clear at this time. Vaccination remains one of the most effective ways to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.
It has been determined by the federal government that, with the return of measures such as in-person school and activities, COVID-19 is having a greater impact on children and youth than earlier in the pandemic.
While children and youth are generally less likely to get sick from COVID-19, they can still be infected and not have symptoms, spread COVID-19 to others, experience longer-term effects if they do get infected and develop a rare but serious complication called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. Children and youth with certain underlying medical conditions may have a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
Like adults, it is recommended that children and youth become fully vaccinated for the health and safety of everyone. If you have concerns about vaccinating your child/youth with CF, contact your CF clinic team or a COVID-19 testing center clinician to further inquire.
There are several videos, posters and infographics about COVID-19 vaccines:
- The facts about COVID-19 vaccines: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/awareness-resources/know-vaccine.html
- COVID-19: How vaccines are developed: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/video/covid-19-how-vaccines-developed.html
- Vaccine development and approval in Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/covid19-industry/drugs-vaccines-treatments/vaccines/development-approval-infographic.html
- COVID-19 vaccines questions – Monitoring safety after approval: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/video/ask-experts-covid-19-vaccines/monitoring-safety-after-approval.html
- How do we know that COVID-19 vaccines are safe? https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/video/ask-experts-covid-19-vaccines.html#a1
Several provincial public health authorities and school boards have developed resources on the importance of COVID-19 vaccines for children.In addition to the resources listed below, contact your relevant school board.
- COVID-19: Children & Vaccines: Information about the risks of COVID-19 in children, vaccine safety, benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine and more.
- A Parent’s Guide to Vaccination: Information about vaccinating your children, how vaccines work and vaccine safety.
- Not Just for Kids: An adult guide to vaccination: Facts about COVID-19 vaccines and their importance, for adults and children
- Max the Vax: Learn all about the COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11
- Fact Sheet: COVID-19 Vaccines and Children Aged 5 to 11: Information on COVID-19 risks, benefits of vaccinating your child, and vaccine safety
There are also child-friendly resources to help cope before and after vaccination:
- Teens, meet vaccines
- Reduce the Pain of Vaccination in Kids and Teens: A Guide for Parents
- AboutKidsHealth: CARD System Learning Hub
UPDATE - May 13, 2021
Everyone 12 years of age and older, including people with cystic fibrosis, are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccines and can book their vaccine appointment now. Learn more here.
UPDATE - April 27, 2021
Youth with CF who are 12 years of age and older are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines now. Appointments can be booked through pharmacies, Alberta Health Services' online system, or by dialing 811. Learn more here.
Alberta has confirmed that residents aged 16-64 with chronic respiratory disease, including cystic fibrosis are eligible to book vaccine appointments now. For more information and to book an appointment, please see here.
Learn more about the latest updates specific to Alberta regarding the COVID-19 vaccines here: https://www.alberta.ca/covid19-vaccine.aspx
UPDATE - May 13, 2021
People aged 16 to 74 with cystic fibrosis are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines now and can book their vaccine appointment using their patient invitation letter. Learn more here.
Cystic Fibrosis Canada has received confirmation that British Columbians living with cystic fibrosis are considered part of the clinically extremely vulnerable population list and will be prioritized for Phase Three roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine, starting in April 2021.
Learn more about the latest updates specific to British Columbia regarding the COVID-19 vaccines here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support/vaccines
UPDATE - May 13, 2021
People with cystic fibrosis are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines and can book vaccine appointments now. You can use the provincial vaccine finder online tool.
Manitoba has confirmed that those living with chronic health conditions, including cystic fibrosis, will be prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine as part of the Priority List 1. Household contacts of people identified on Priority List 1 will be prioritized for the vaccine as part of Priority List 2. You can learn more here.
Learn more about the latest updates specific to Manitoba regarding the COVID-19 vaccines here: https://www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/vaccine/index.html
New Brunswick released a Complex Medical Conditions List which includes cystic fibrosis. Individuals with complex medical conditions are currently eligible for the vaccine and can book an appointment online by using this link.
Learn more about the latest updates specific to New Brunswick regarding the COVID-19 vaccines here: https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/corporate/promo/covid-19/vaccine.html
UPDATE - May 13, 2021
People with cystic fibrosis are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines and can book vaccine appointments now. Learn more here.
Newfoundland and Labrador confirmed that people who are clinically extremely vulnerable, including people with severe respiratory conditions such as cystic fibrosis, will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccines as part of Phase Two of the vaccination plan, starting April 2021. Learn more here.
Learn more about the latest updates specific to Newfoundland and Labrador regarding the COVID-19 vaccines here: https://www.gov.nl.ca/covid-19/vaccine/
UPDATE - May 3, 2021
Currently, people aged 40+ are eligible for the vaccine in Nova Scotia.
The provincial government is following an age-based approach with their vaccination rollout plan, meaning eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccines is based on age groups. Learn more here.
Learn more about the latest updates specific to Nova Scotia regarding the COVID-19 vaccines here: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/symptoms-and-testing/#vaccine
UPDATE - May 13, 2021
People with cystic fibrosis are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines as of this week and can book vaccine appointments now. Learn more here.
UPDATE - April 29, 2021
Today, the provincial government released a phase two schedule for COVID-19 vaccine eligibility as Ontario expects an increase in vaccine supply and prepares to accelerate the vaccination rollout. People with CF will be able to book COVID-19 vaccine appointments as part of the at-risk health conditions group starting the week of May 10th. Learn more online.
TORONTO - As of April 28th, 2021, the City of Toronto has partnered with Vaccine Hunters Canada to help Toronto residents find next-day appointments at local clinics as they become eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. Learn more online.
Click here to read our response on the vaccine prioritization in Ontario.
Learn more about the latest updates specific to Ontario regarding the COVID-19 vaccines here: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/covid-19-vaccines-ontario
UPDATE - May 13, 2021
People 16 years of age and older with cystic fibrosis, and household members (16+) of people with cystic fibrosis under the age of 16 are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines now. You can use the online booking tool and learn more here.
Prince Edward Island confirmed that people with underlying medical conditions, including cystic fibrosis, will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccines as part of Phase Two, starting April 2021. Details on how to book during this phase will become available here.
Learn more about the latest updates specific to Prince Edward Island regarding the COVID-19 vaccines here: https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/health-and-wellness/covid-19-vaccines-and-immunization-program
UPDATE - May 13, 2021
As mentioned below, people with cystic fibrosis are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines and can book their vaccination appointments now. Learn more here.
UPDATE - April 22, 2021
Today, the Minister of Health announced that all people with cystic fibrosis aged 16 and over will be able to make an appointment to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic or pharmacy starting tomorrow, April 23. We invite you to visit www.quebec.ca/vaccincovid.
Learn more about the latest updates specific to Quebec regarding the COVID-19 vaccines here: https://www.quebec.ca/en/health/health-issues/a-z/2019-coronavirus/progress-of-the-covid-19-vaccination/
UPDATE - May 13, 2021
The province is currently in phase two of their COVID-19 vaccination rollout plan which includes people with underlying health conditions such as cystic fibrosis. Eligible residents will receive a letter from their physician and will need to use the 1-833-SASKVAX / 1-833-727-5829 telephone number to book. Learn more here.
In Saskatchewan, “people with severe respiratory conditions including cystic fibrosis” are confirmed for vaccination in phase two of the province’s rollout plan, which is anticipated to start in April. Beginning late March/early April, eligible residents will be able to book appointments through an online scheduling tool or by calling a dedicated call-centre. Learn more here.
Learn more about the latest updates specific to Saskatchewan regarding the COVID-19 vaccines here: https://www.saskatchewan.ca/COVID19-vaccine
On April 23, 2021, CF Canada sent a letter to Premiers and Provincial Ministers of Health across the country asking them to ensure the people in their province diagnosed with cystic fibrosis and their caregivers are vaccinated now. Please see here for a copy of that letter.
On April 19, 2021, Cystic Fibrosis Canada co-authored a letter to the editor in the Journal of Cystic Fibrosis, along with the The Global Registry Harmonization Group explaining why people with cystic fibrosis should be prioritized for the vaccine. Cystic Fibrosis Canada has shared this letter with Health Ministers with a call to ensure those with CF and caregivers can get the vaccine now.
In January 2021, Cystic Fibrosis Canada joined forces with The Canadian Thoracic Society and other members of its COVID-19 Respiratory Roundtable, which represents and works closely with Canadians living with lung disease to issue a joint statement. The statement asks federal, provincial, and territorial governments to prioritize people living with lung disease who are at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 complications in the vaccination rollout.
In December of 2020, Dr. John Wallenburg, Chief Scientific Officer at Cystic Fibrosis Canada sent a letter to provincial Health Ministers urging provinces to prioritize Canadians living with cystic fibrosis and their caregivers, as they determine priority groups for the COVID-19 vaccination. Dr. Wallenburg stressed that given the already heavy health burden on Canadians living with CF, it is necessary to shelter them from any additional risks that could be caused by SaRS-CoV2 infection. Cystic Fibrosis Canada followed up on this letter to urge provinces who have not committed to prioritizing Canadians with CF to do so.
In addition to checking your provincial and local health sites for vaccine appointment availability, you can visit Vaccine Hunters Canada, driven by a volunteer group that is dedicated to helping Canadians navigate the COVID-19 vaccine rollout by connecting eligible individuals to vaccine opportunities in their area.
Update: May 13 - Use of the AstraZeneca shot has been suspended in certain provinces; Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec will stop using the vaccine for first doses. Manitoba has announced it is pausing most first dose appointments.
There are currently more than 150 other potential formulations of the COVID-19 vaccine in various stages of development and/or approval. You can learn more here.
UPDATE - May 6, 2021 - As of yesterday, Health Canada has expanded authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to include people who are aged 12 to 15. Learn more here.
To our knowledge, the vaccines currently approved for use in Canada are not approved for children under the age of 16 (for the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine) and under the age of 18 (for the Moderna, Janssen and AstraZeneca vaccines).
The specifics on the efficacy and safety of the vaccines in transplant recipients continue to emerge. The Canadian Society of Transplantation published a National Transplant Consensus Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccine Q&A, and has compiled resources for people post-transplant that you can view here.
Most provincesare prioritizing organ transplant recipients for the COVID-19 vaccine. You can learn more about eligibility in your province by checking your provincial and local health websites.
As with all vaccines, everyone needs to consider benefits and risks. If you have specific health questions regarding the vaccine, consult your CF and transplant care teams.