Last updated: January 20, 2021.
There is no waiting list for the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine(s). Please do not call your healthcare provider or Public Health to be added to a list. Public Health is reaching out to identified populations to prepare them for upcoming vaccine clinics.
The province is the lead for distributing COVID-19 vaccines in Ontario. For more information, please visit the Government of Ontario’s website.
When will vaccines be available in our region?
The province has indicated that the COVID-19 vaccine will be rolled out in three key phases.
Phase One began in high risk areas of Ontario in late 2020. As part of the local implementation of Phase 1, a very limited supply of vaccine has started to arrive to HPEPH.
- As we are alerted that shipments of the vaccine are coming to our region, we will work to ensure it is administered efficiently and equitably to priority populations.
- As the goal of phase 1 is to reduce the number of deaths from COVID-19, those who are most at risk, and those who work with high risk individuals, are being prioritized.
- The first phase of the rollout will involve working closely with Long-Term Care and high-risk Retirement Home staff and residents who will be eligible to receive the vaccine.
- We anticipate that Phase 1 will also make vaccination available for hospital workers, First Nations communities, and chronic home care recipients.
Phase Two will begin when an increased stockpile of vaccines becomes available to Ontario.
- During phase two, it is expected that vaccinations will be expanded to other priority settings such as congregate living facilities,older adults, frontline essential workers, and individuals with chronic conditions and their caregivers.
- As vaccines are being prioritized for regions with highest rates of COVID-19, we expect Phase 2 will not begin in our region for some time.
- As rates of COVID-19 continue to be relatively stable in our region, we expect that Phases will be rolled out gradually in our region over many months, as we will likely receive several shipments, each with a limited number of vaccines
- Larger amounts of vaccine are being prioritized to those higher risk zones like Grey and Red that were identified before the Provincial lockdown.
Ontario will enter Phase Three when vaccines are available for every Ontarian who wishes to be immunized.
- While vaccines will not be mandated, during Phase Three, people will be strongly encouraged to get vaccinated.
Who will be able to get a vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccine is not currently widely available to the public. Please do not call us to ask when it might be available. This information will be shared when we know.
With limited supply of vaccines in the initial phases, it is being provided to those who are at the highest risk of getting infected or spreading the virus. By vaccinating and protecting people in these priority groups as soon as possible, we will decrease the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks among those who are at greatest risk.
While we are confident that everyone who chooses to be vaccinated for COVID-19 will be able to receive the vaccine as supply grows in 2021, initially demand will exceed supply. We ask for the patience of local residents and continued adherence to public health measures to keep our communities safe until vaccine is available for all.
It is critical to get the COVID-19 vaccine, when your turn comes, so that you can protect yourself, your family, friends, and community from the infection. Widespread vaccination is essential to improve community immunity and end the pandemic.
What should I do to stay safe while I wait to get the vaccine?
As vaccines will become available on a gradual basis, continued efforts of individuals and families is essential to keep our community safe until vaccines are available to all. Until the majority of individuals, especially vulnerable individuals, have been vaccinated, we all must continue to do everything we can to protect one another from the spread of illness.
Please continue to follow these five fundamental actions to protect yourself and others:
- Stay home when ill, as directed by provincial assessment tools;
- Always physical distance with those outside your household;
- Wear a mask or face covering in public spaces, as well as when physical distancing is difficult or not possible;
- Wash your hands often, and clean frequently touched surfaces;
- Get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.
Which vaccines are approved in Canada?
Learn about each vaccine, how it works, how it is given, ingredients, allergies, possible side effects, safety monitoring:
Can you get the coronavirus from the COVID-19 vaccine?
No. Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are not live vaccines and do not contain the virus. Therefore, the vaccine cannot give you infection or disease.
Immunizations have been a great public health success story, and have helped eliminate many deadly diseases from North America. Vaccines provide immunity and protect us, and our communities from contracting and spreading illness.
How do mRNA vaccines work?
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are messenger RNA vaccines, also called mRNA vaccines. mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. They teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.
No. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines do not affect, interact or alter DNA in any way. Our DNA resides in the nucleus of our cells and the mRNA does not travel into the nucleus. Therefore, there is no risk of altering DNA. It uses the body’s natural defense response which breaks down and gets rid of the mRNA after it is finished using the harmless genetic instructions.
Is COVID-19 vaccine safe?
The COVID-19 vaccines have been developed in a short time frame, but have undergone the protocols of various levels of trials, following scientific processes and due diligence. All safety protocols have been followed and there have been no compromises in making the vaccine available to the general public. Vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to protect you and those around you from serious illnesses like COVID-19.
Creating a new vaccine can take years. However, the development of vaccines for COVID-19 is progressing quickly for many reasons, including:
- advances in science and technology
- international collaboration among scientists, health professionals, researchers, industry and governments
- increased dedicated funding
Only vaccines that are proven safe, effective, and of high quality will be approved for use in Canada. Learn about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, and vaccine authorization updates from the Government of Canada.
- What You Need to Know About Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine – St. Micheal’s Unity Health Toronto
- COVID-19 Vaccines Factsheet – HPEPH
- COVID-19 Vaccines in Ontario – Ontario Ministry of Health
- COVID-19: How vaccines are developed – Public Health Agency of Canada
Please check back for regular updates as more details are available.