Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
Based on information available as of February 16, 2021
What is COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to the newly discovered SARS-CoV-2, or COVID-19 virus that has caused a worldwide pandemic. This virus is highly contagious and easily transmitted from person to person.
What are the symptoms?
Those who get COVID-19 can experience little to no symptoms that may resemble those of a cold or flu, and may take up to 14 days to appear. They can present themselves as:
- Difficulty breathing
- Abdominal Pain
- Fatigue or weakness
- Loss of appetite (substantial)
- Loss of taste and smell
- Muscle or body aches
- Nausea & vomiting
- Throat Aches
- Unexplained runny nose or nasal congestion
What are the risks of getting COVID-19?
The public health risk associated with COVID-19 for Canada is high. Given that this virus is easily transmissible from an infected person to another, it is recommended that you keep practicing good hygiene, get the COVID-19 vaccination and limit non-essential travels outside of Canada until further notice to limit the spread of the virus.
What is the incubation period of COVID-19?The incubation period is currently advised at 14 days—if patients need to cancel non-urgent appointments because they are positive or potentially positive, they cannot be rebooked until after a 14-day isolation period.
How can I protect myself from getting COVID-19?
You can stay healthy and prevent the spread of infections by:
- washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
- avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands;
- avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
- coughing or sneezing into your sleeve and not your hands;
- staying home if you are sick to avoid spreading illness to others;
- wearing a mask that covers your nose in public spaces, including the pharmacy;
- practicing social distancing by keeping a distance of at least 2 meters between you and anyone else;
- getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
Ask you pharmacist or consult governmental websites for more information.
How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?
There are 2 types of authorized vaccine in Canada: mRNA vaccines (Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna) and recombinant vector vaccines (AstraZeneca/Covishield and Johnson&Johnson).
Although mRNA vaccines are relatively new, the technology behind them has been in development for the last two decades. The COVID-19 vaccines help your body recognize an protein that is found on the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which in terms allows our body to create specific antibodies to fight against the virus if you are exposed to it. To achieve this, mRNA vaccines and recombinant vector vaccines use two different mecanisms. mRNA vaccines directly sends some kind of recipe to your cells, instructing them to produce a protein while recombinant vector vaccines use a harmless virus as a way to deliver the recipe to your cells.
Once the protein is created, antibodies are then developed. Now that your body possesses these antibodies, it will recognize and fight the virus much more rapidly and effectively if you are exposed to the COVID-19 virus.
It is important to note here that the vaccine DOES NOT contain the COVID-19 virus, and therefore, does not cause infection of any sort.
HOW CAN I FIND OUT IF I AM AT RISK OF COMPLICATIONS RELATED TO COVID-19?
The Covid-19 virus can affect anyone in the population. Symptoms can range from mild to severe cases requiring hospitalization. In other cases, people may experience no symptoms at all or have not yet developed them.
There are common risk factors, such as age, diabetes, hypertension, lung disease and immunosuppression, that make you more at risk of developing more serious symptoms. However, severe symptoms and illness can affect anyone, even those presenting no risk factors.
Certain people are at increased risk of developing complications and dying if they infected by the virus that causes Covid-19. These includes older adults (>60 years old), people with chronic medical conditions, and individuals who are immunocompromised.
If you belong to any of these populations, it is important to protect yourself by limiting interactions with other people and by taking precautions when you do interact with others.
What should I do if I am worried I have COVID-19 or have been exposed to COVID-19?
If patients believe they have symptoms that resemble those outlined above, the following steps are recommended:
- Contact the Public Health Agency of Canada’s COVID-19 Information Service at 1-833-784-4397 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you reside in Québec, please call 1-877-644-4545.
- Do not visit your pharmacy. Practice self-isolation to protect the health and safety of those around you.
It’s important that if you suspect you have been exposed to COVID-19, to not visit your pharmacy. Call your pharmacist to review your situation over the phone and discuss the best way to receive your medication.
I’m pregnant during the COVID-19 crisis. Am I more at risk?
Pregnant and recently pregnant women are at an increased risk of severe illness and death when contracted with COVID-19. One of the ways to decrease your risk of severe illness is to get the COVID-19 vaccination after you discuss the risk and benefits with your health care provider.
Access to your medication
What should I do in case of medication shortage?
Due to COVID-19, the demand for certain medication is increasing. If your medication is the object of a shortage, your pharmacist will do their best to ensure your treatment is not interrupted and that you remain taken care of.
Continue to take your medication as usual, keep track of your supply and leave yourself and your pharmacist extra time for additional refills. Call your pharmacist at least 24 hours in advance, if possible, to order your medication or to announce your intention to go pick it up.
Should I avoid taking Ibuprofen for my COVID-19 symptoms?
While the Government of Canada has been monitoring reports claiming Ibuprofen could worsen symptoms of COVID-19, there are no concrete scientific evidence that support this. The Government of Canada will continue to monitor the situation closely. Call and speak to your Pharmacist about whether or not Ibuprofen is appropriate for you.
I have a new prescription, but I can’t go to the pharmacy. What should I do?
Ask your doctor to provide your pharmacist your prescription by phone or fax. You can then discuss options with your pharmacy on how to receive your medications without coming in person.
Your pharmacy offers an array of services to help you get your medications at home or in a way that will minimize contact.These services may include:
- Delivery Services
- Curbside Pick-Up
- Mobile Application and Online Prescription Fills and Refills
Call your pharmacy to verify the availability of these services and arrange the details.
Can I have my prescriptions filled at another pharmacy for convenience?
Call the new pharmacy to explain the situation and ask about their delivery options. The new pharmacy of your choice will contact your current pharmacy to transfer your prescriptions.
Safety measures in our pharmacies
If I don’t have any symptoms, can I still come to the pharmacy?
Yes. If you do not have any COVID-19 symptoms or have traveled abroad in the the past 14 days or is in close contact with someone infected with COVID-19, you can visit the pharmacy. Once in the store, make sure to keep at least 2 meters of distance between staff members and other customers, as well as following safety guidelines established by the pharmacy. Prioritize contactless methods of payment instead of cash.
Where can I find the most up-to-date information about COVID-19?
For the latest and most up-to-date information, visit the Public Health Agency of Canada's web page on COVID-19.
You can also follow Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, on Twitter at @CPHO_Canada.
Canadians travelling abroad are encouraged to consult the travel health notices on travel.gc.ca.
The pharmacy services presented in this section are offered by pharmacist owners who are affiliated with PROXIM. The pharmacists are solely responsible for the professional activities carried out during the practice of pharmacy.
The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.