Frequently Asked Questions
8-1-1 is available from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, to answer general questions about COVID-19.
Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?
Yes. Only vaccines that are proven to be safe and effective are authorized for use in Canada. The COVID-19 vaccines have been tested during their development and then carefully reviewed by Health Canada. The vaccines cannot give you COVID-19 and cannot change your DNA.
For more information on vaccine safety in Canada, see: Vaccine safety and possible side effects
For information on how COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work see: COVID-19 mRNA vaccines
What are possible side effects from COVID-19 vaccines?
Vaccines, like any medication, can cause side effects and reactions. It is normal to have temporary side effects after getting vaccinated which usually last from a few hours to a few days after receiving a vaccination. This is the body’s natural response to building immunity against the disease. Most side effects will not disrupt daily activities. For the list of common side effects, please visit: Common Vaccine Side Effects
If you have concerns about any symptoms you develop after getting vaccinated, contact your health care provider.
Who can get the COVID-19 vaccine?
For information on vaccine eligibility, visit the NTHSSA website.
Who should NOT get a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine?
Both mRNA vaccines are safe and effective for most of the population. If you have any concerns regarding the vaccine, ask your health care provider before receiving immunization.
If you have had severe and immediate allergic reactions (including myocarditis/pericarditis) to a dose of mRNA or to an ingredient in the vaccine before, please consult a healthcare provider before receiving another mRNA vaccine.
For more information including a list of ingredients for mRNA vaccines, visit: Government of Canada website.
Do I need a COVID-19 vaccine booster?
The protection of the COVID-19 vaccine fades over time. This is especially true for seniors and those with weakened immune systems. The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO) recommends everyone 12 years and older get a booster for maximum protection against COVID-19 after 6 months from their previous vaccination.
For more information about COVID-19 booster recommendations, see: Booster dose, third and fourth doses
Can I still pass COVID-19 to others after I'm fully vaccinated?
Vaccines are not 100% effective, so it is still possible for someone who is fully vaccinated to become infected with COVID-19, but most cases are milder. Research is ongoing to find out how infectious you are if you are fully vaccinated and get COVID-19, but evidence shows that fully vaccinated people who have COVID-19 can spread the virus to others. Even after vaccination, it’s important to keep up healthy habits to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Can I get COVID-19 after getting the vaccine?
Vaccines are not 100% effective in preventing someone from getting COVID-19. However, getting vaccinated protects you from getting very sick, and reduces the risk of hospitalization and death. It is important that you stay up-to-date with your COVID-19 vaccine to help protect you against severe outcomes.
Do I need to complete a self-isolation plan when arriving in the NWT?
No. Anyone can enter the NWT regardless of vaccine status. Self-Isolation Plans are no longer required as Public Health Orders regarding travel have been lifted.
Can I travel without being vaccinated?
The Government of Canada has made it mandatory for anyone who is 12 years and older to be fully vaccinated before they can board a flight, train, or cruise ship in Canada. For more information, please visit the Government of Canada’s website: COVID-19 Boarding flights, trains and cruise ships in Canada
Where can I get an official proof of vaccination to show airlines, trains and cruise ships?
If you were vaccinated in the NWT, you can get official proof of vaccination by completing the online form: Electronic proof of vaccination.
Do I still need to isolate if I test positive for COVID?
No. However, if you test positive it is recommended that you stay home and limit your contact with others. For the next 10 days wear a mask when outside your home, practice healthy habits, reduce your contacts (especially with those at higher risk for severe outcomes of COVID-19), and consider working remotely if possible.
Do I still need to get tested for COVID-19 if I show any symptoms?
If you are vaccinated, generally in good health and experiencing mild symptoms of COVID, you do not need to be tested.
It is highly recommended that you get tested if you show symptoms and belong to one of the high risk groups, work in healthcare, or any other vulnerable sector. For information on where to get tested, please visit: COVID Testing
If you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19, you do not need a test.
What should I do if I test positive for COVID-19 with an at-home rapid antigen test?
If you test positive at home, it is recommended that you stay home and limit your contact with others. For the next 10 days wear a mask when outside your home, practice healthy habits, reduce your contacts (especially with those at higher risk for severe outcomes of COVID-19), and consider working remotely if possible. While this is no longer mandatory, it is a good way to protect others around you. If you are one of the high risk groups, work in healthcare, or any other vulnerable sector you should consider confirmatory testing at a health facility. For information on where to get tested, please visit: COVID Testing
Where can I pick up a free at-home rapid antigen test kit?
If you are in Yellowknife, tests can be picked up at the Fieldhouse or City Hall. If you are in any other community, tests can be found at the North West Company and Arctic Co-op stores.
What if I’m a household contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19?
If someone in your household tests positive, it is recommended that you limit your contact with others. For the next 10 days monitor yourself of symptoms, wear a mask when outside your home, practice healthy habits, reduce your contacts (especially with those at higher risk for severe outcomes of COVID-19), and consider working remotely if possible.
Testing is not necessary if you are not experiencing symptoms.
What should I do if I’ve tested positive for COVID-19 and my symptoms do not improve?
If you develop symptoms and they do not improve after 5 days, or worsen, book an appointment at a clinic or health centre and remain at home until you can be assessed by a healthcare provider.
If you are having difficulty breathing or any serious symptoms, please call 911.
Are there any restrictions for indoor/outdoor gatherings?
No. However, large gatherings where lots of people mingle can be the start of outbreaks and present a higher risk of spreading COVID-19. Please assess your own level of risk when attending gatherings or events, especially when it is indoors. It is important to consider the risk to other people in your communities when events or gatherings are being planned. If you are organizing events or gatherings, you should keep healthy habits in mind and plan accordingly. For more information, visit: Current Recommendations
Do we still need to wear masks in public spaces?
No. However, the CPHO still recommends that you wear a mask in public spaces to help limit the risk of infection for yourself, your loved ones, and your community. Even though masking is no longer required, organizations and businesses can apply their own masking rules or protocols. Wearing a well-fitted mask remains one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. For more information, visit: COVID-19 Mask Use
Are children still required to wear masks in schools?
Each school or school board determines if masks are mandatory in schools or childcare settings. Children are no longer required to wear a mask in other settings. It is up to families to decide if they would like to continue wearing masks based on their own personal risk assessment. Depending on the level of COVID-19 in a particular community, the CPHO may still advise schools to implement public health measures. COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses are not going away so practicing healthy habits is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others.
Is masking still required at healthcare facilities?
Healthcare facilities decide their own masking policies and other public health measures in consultation with the OCPHO. Like schools, there may be different rules in place depending on circumstances. For example, long-term care facilities may require masking to visit loved ones who are elderly and at a higher risk of developing severe outcomes due to COVID-19. Please check the policies in place for healthcare facilities before visiting.
What will happen if there is another outbreak?
The NWT Public Health Emergency was unique. The circumstances involved a new and unknown illness that spread globally very quickly. Jurisdictions across Canada and the world were applying similar types of legislation and public health measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. While a territory-wide Public Health Emergency is unlikely to be reinstated, it may happen if another outbreak occurs in the NWT involving a more dangerous COVID-19 variant that puts significant stress on the healthcare system. These measures will only be taken if necessary.