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Canada pre-purchased millions of doses of seven different vaccine types, and Health Canada has approved four so far for the various provincial and territorial rollouts. All the drugs are fully effective in preventing serious illness and death, though some may do more than others to stop any symptomatic illness at all (which is where the efficacy rates cited below come in).

PFIZER-BIONTECH

  • Approved on: Dec. 9
  • Efficacy rate: 95 per cent with both doses
  • Traits: Must be stored at -70 C, requiring specialized ultracold freezers. It is a new type of mRNA-based vaccine that gives the body a sample of the virus’s DNA to teach immune systems how to fight it. Health Canada has authorized it for use in people as young as 12. Read our explainer to learn more

MODERNA

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  • Approved on: Dec. 23
  • Efficacy rate: 94 per cent with both doses
  • Traits: Like Pfizer’s vaccine, this one is mRNA-based, but it can be stored at -20 C. It’s approved for use in Canada for ages 18 and up. Read our explainer to learn more.

OXFORD-ASTRAZENECA

  • Approved on: Feb. 26
  • Efficacy rate: 62 per cent after the second dose, according to Health Canada
  • Traits: This comes in two versions approved for Canadian use, the kind made in Europe and the same drug made by a different process in India (where it is called Covishield). The National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s latest guidance is that people 30 and older can get it if they can’t or don’t want to wait for an mRNA vaccine. Ontario and Alberta have stopped giving first doses of AstraZeneca because of the risk of a rare blood-clotting disorder.

JOHNSON & JOHNSON

  • Approved on: March 5
  • Efficacy rate: 72 per cent against moderate to severe COVID-19
  • Traits: Unlike the other vaccines, this one comes in a single injection. NACI says it should be offered to Canadians 30 and older, but Health Canada paused distribution of the drug for now as it investigates inspection concerns at a Maryland facility where the active ingredient was made.

How many vaccine doses do I get?

All vaccines except Johnson & Johnson’s require two doses, though even for double-dose drugs, research suggests the first shots may give fairly strong protection. This has led health agencies to focus on getting first shots to as many people as possible, then delaying boosters by up to four months. To see how many doses your province or territory has administered so far, check our vaccine tracker for the latest numbers.

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