COVID-19 Vaccine & Vaccination Frequently Asked Questions


The Health Unit is following the provincial ethical framework for COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Please view our COVID-19 Dashboard, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for updates as we move through the provincial COVID-19 vaccine plan. If you don’t get online often or if your question isn’t answered here, call our COVID-19 Call Centre at 1-844-478-1400.

NEW: Still not sure about the COVID-19 vaccine? Interactive services are available through the Scarborough Health Network to help you make an informed decision.

On This Page (click to view):

About the Vaccine

What is the COVID-19 vaccine?

A vaccine is a medicine that gets your immune system to produce antibodies. Antibodies are proteins trained to recognize the virus and protect your immune system against it. They can be produced after getting vaccinated, but also by being infected with the virus. After getting vaccinated for COVID-19, you develop some immunity to the virus, without having to get COVID-19 first. This is what makes vaccines such powerful medicine. Unlike most medicines, which treat or cure diseases, vaccines keep you from getting sick in the first place.

Health Canada has approved four COVID-19 vaccines for use in Canada:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech
  • Moderna
  • AstraZeneca - at this time, AstraZeneca is not offered at our vaccine clinics; however, it is available at certain pharmacies.
  • Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) - at this time, we are not aware if and when the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be available in our district.

What are the differences between the four vaccines?

The four vaccines approved in Canada are similar in many ways and they are all highly effective in protecting against COVID-19. Here is a chart comparing the four vaccines: 

(Johnson & Johnson)
Type of Vaccine mRNA mRNA Non replicating viral vector Non replicating viral vector
Number of Doses 2 doses, 3 weeks apart
(up to 16 weeks)
2 doses, 4 weeks apart
(up to 16 weeks) 
2 doses, 8 weeks
to 12 weeks apart 
 1 dose
Efficacy  95%  94%  64%  66%

How were the vaccines approved for use in Canada?

Drugs, including vaccines, are regulated under the Food and Drugs Act and regulations. They must meet the regulatory requirements for safety, efficacy and quality before they can be approved for use and distribution in Canada. Health Canada is responsible for approving vaccines.

Before approving a vaccine, they look carefully at the:

  • scientific and clinical evidence — including results of clinical trials — to determine if a vaccine product is safe, effective and manufactured to the highest quality
  • safety and efficacy of the vaccine to determine that
    • there are no concerns;
    • the vaccine can trigger a strong enough immune response to protect against disease;
    • the benefits outweigh the risks
  • manufacturing process to make sure the manufacturer can carry out the necessary quality controls for the vaccine

If there is not enough evidence to support the manufacturer’s safety, effectiveness or quality claims, Health Canada will not authorize the vaccine and the product cannot be sold in Canada.

Find out more about Health Canada’s:

 The vaccines were developed so quickly. How can I be sure they are safe?

Creating a new vaccine usually takes years. However, the COVID-19 vaccines were developed quickly for many reasons, including:

  • being informed by decades of research on other strains of coronavirus before COVID-19 (such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Sars-CoV, also known as SARS)
  • advances in science and technology
  • scientists, health professionals, researchers, industry and governments around the world all working together
  • more dollars were quickly put towards the creation of these vaccines

Before any vaccines are available in Ontario, they:

  • undergo intense clinical trials to make sure they are safe and effective
  • are evaluated and authorized for use by Health Canada, using very high standards

Ontario makes sure vaccines remain safe by:

  • transporting and storing vaccines safely and securely at required conditions and temperatures
  • finding safe clinic spaces to vaccinate people and providing the required training to those giving the vaccines
  • monitoring for any adverse reactions or side effects that may take place after vaccination, taking appropriate measures and working with the federal government, other provinces and territories

Once a vaccine is in use, Canada has a strong vaccine safety monitoring system to tell public health authorities about changing trends or unusual reactions that were not reported before.

Read more information on vaccines and vaccine authorization updates from the Government of Canada.

What is an mRNA vaccine and how does it work?

mRNA stands for Messenger Ribonucleic Acid. mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer and Moderna, give cells in your body instructions to make part of a harmless a protein from the COVID-19 virus.

Once the cells make the protein, the instructions are broken down. The cells display the pieces of protein they have created, then your body recognizes that protein as foreign and develops an immune response.

This response will recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19 if you are exposed to it later on.

mRNA vaccines do not change or affect your own DNA.

What is a viral vector-based vaccine and how does it work?

Viral vector vaccines, like AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, introduce instructions from the virus that causes COVID-19 using a non-COVID-19 virus that has been modified to be inactive and harmless. This is known as a vector.

The vector only carries the instructions to make a specific protein from the COVID-19 virus. Similar to the mRNA virus, once the body creates that protein, it produces an immune response, which will recognize and fight future infections.

Viral vector-based vaccines have been used to develop many vaccines for animals, and an Ebola vaccine approved by a number of regulators around the world.

Will other COVID-19 vaccines become available?

The government of Canada has agreements for other potential vaccines that are in development or undergoing trials, so different vaccines may become available later.

 Vaccine Effectiveness

Some people are now getting a third dose. Does a two-dose series not offer strong enough protection?

A complete two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series provides strong protection against COVID-19 infection and severe outcomes, including against the Delta variant of concern, in the general population.

However, for some highest risk populations, a third dose may be required as two doses may not provide sufficient protection.

Are the current vaccines used in Canada effective against the Variants of Concern?

Current COVID-19 vaccines were designed around earlier versions of coronavirus, but scientists believe they should still work against the new ones. It is extremely unlikely the mutations would render vaccines useless.

The leading vaccine manufacturers are monitoring how well their vaccines control these new variants and are ready to tweak the vaccine design to ensure they will protect against these emerging variants. Moderna, for example, has stated that it will adjust the second or booster injection to more closely match the sequence of the variants. This is why it is critical that people return to get the second dose when it is their time to do so.

Why should I get vaccinated if the COVID-19 infection has a 99% survival rate?

COVID-19 can be a serious illness for many people, and for some people, symptoms can last for months. The virus can even damage the heart, brain, lungs and increase the risk of long-term health problems. Even young, healthy people can feel unwell for weeks to months following the COVID-19 infection.

The short-term side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are less than the risk and potential long-term health damages caused by the COVID-19 virus.

Some people have had COVID-19 twice and they "should have" had antibodies against the virus. Why do we think the vaccine will work when having the virus didn't protect some people?

Neither having the infection previously nor getting the vaccine can provide 100% protection against COVID-19. Since everyone’s body responds differently to vaccines, we recommend that everyone - whether or not they are immunized or previously infected - continue to follow public health guidelines.

What is herd immunity?

When most of a population is immune to an infectious disease, this provides indirect protection - also known as herd immunity or herd protection - to those who are not immune to the disease.

For example, if 80% of a population is immune to a virus, four out of every five people who come across someone with the disease won’t get sick (and won’t spread the disease any further). In this way, the spread of infectious diseases is kept under control.

What percentage of the population needs to be vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity?

The percentage of the population that needs to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity depends on many factors such as how contagious an infection is. Usually 50% to 90% of a population needs to be immunized before infection rates start to go down. Since some variants are more contagious than others, it is difficult to determine an exact percentage at this time. This is an area of ongoing research. The more people vaccinated with two doses of vaccine the better, as it helps to create herd immunity.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine prevent you from getting COVID-19, or will it decrease the severity of the virus if I get infected?

The vaccines are very effective at preventing COVID-19 if you have the recommended two doses. At this time, it is not known if you can still get and give the infection to someone if you have been exposed to the virus after vaccination.

Youth and COVID-19 Vaccines

Can my child receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

For children less than 12 years of age (or not turning 12 in 2021), vaccination is not recommended at this time. 

Vaccinating eligible caregivers/families of children as well as those in their network of contacts (i.e. ring vaccination) is recommended to help protect those who are not able to be vaccinated.

Is the vaccine safe for youth?

Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have both been approved by Health Canada for youth 12 to 17 years of age. Clinial trials and scientifc review of evidence has proven them be safe and provide excellent protection in this age group.

Side effects reported in adolescents were similar to those observed in adults, and were more frequent after the second dose. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization continues to strongly recommend that a complete series with an mRNA vaccine be offered to all eligible individuals in Canada, including those 12 years of age and older, as the known and potential benefits outweigh the known and potential risks.

Find out more about the Safety and Efficacy of COVID-19 Vaccines for Youth.

Why should youth (12-17 years) get vaccinated?

Most children with COVID-19 have mild symptoms or none at all. However, some children with COVID-19 can get very sick. Children can also spread COVID-19 to other people. Vaccinating children protects them from getting sick and reduces virus spread within their household, school and the community. Check out the Child and Youth COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet to learn more.

The vaccine is free, voluntary, safe and it works.

Do I need a parent to consent or attend my appointment with me?

Parents/guardians and youth are encouraged to discuss vaccination plans together. However, youth 12 to 17 do not need to attend a clinic with a parent or a guardian. Under the provincial Health Care Consent Act (HCCA), there is no minimum age requirement to provide consent for vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines are only provided if informed consent is received from the person to be vaccinated, including those aged 12 to 17, and as long as they have the capacity to make this decision.

Every vaccine that is given requires informed consent. Informed consent means that before receiving a vaccine, a person understands what the vaccination involves, why it is being recommended, possible side effects, and the risks and benefits if they accept or refuse the vaccine. It includes the opportunity for a safe and open discussion with a healthcare practitioner who will ultimately support their voluntary choice.

Can a parent or guardian request information about a youth’s appointment or health?

If a parent or guardian requests information about a youth’s appointment or their health, the Health Unit will require that youth’s permission to share their information with someone else.

Confidentiality is a legal obligation not to disclose information obtained in confidence without a person’s consent and applies to youth as well as adults. In most situations, a capable youth has the right to determine who will be given access to their personal health information, including parents or guardians. Sometimes, a youth may want to speak to their healthcare practitioner alone, and keep information or the decision to obtain a treatment like a vaccine, private.

Getting the Vaccine

When can I get the vaccine?

Anyone turning 12 years of age or older in 2021 is now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. You can get it at one of our upcoming vaccine clinics, or by appointment at a participating pharmacy or doctor's office. 

When will vaccine clinics be run?

Vaccine clinics are now taking place throughout the district. To find clinic dates, times, location and eligibility criteria, visit our COVID-19 vaccination page.

Which vaccine will I receive? Will it be the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson?

  • Currently, clinics in our region are offering Pfizer and Moderna. It is likely you will not know which one you are receiving until you arrive at your appointment. 
  • AstraZeneca is available at certain pharmacies in the Health Unit District. To book an appointment for the AstraZeneca vaccine, contact the pharmacy directly.
  • At this time, we are not aware whether the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will become available in our region.
  • As all approved COVID-19 vaccines are similar, we encourage you to take the first vaccine available to you. 

Do my first, second and/or third dose need to be the same brand?

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has confirmed that getting a different brand of COVID-19 vaccine for your first and second dose is safe and is effective at protecting you and your loved ones from COVID-19 and variants.

I’m considered a Highest Risk individual. Can I get my second dose sooner?

There are very specific requirements for receiving your second dose sooner than 16 weeks after getting your first dose. You must have a letter of confirmation from your health care provider treating you for the highest-risk condition at the time of the first vaccine appointment. Individuals who have, or have had the following, may qualify for a shortened time interval:

  • blood bone or lymph cancers on immunocompromising therapy (chemotherapy, targeted therapies, immunotherapy)
  • organ transplant
  • stem cell transplants
The second dose will be discussed at the first vaccine appointment.

Who is eligible for a third dose?

The following individuals are eligible for a third dose eight weeks after their second dose, provided they show a valid form from their health care provider confirming their condition. Specialists may advise an even longer interval if they think the vaccine may interfere with the treatment or vice versa.

The Health Unit is unable to give third doses to individuals who do not provide a valid form.

Eligibile individuals include:

  • Organ or stem cell transplant recipients;
  • Those who are receiving treatment with an anti-CD20 agent (e.g. rituximab, ocrelizumab, ofatumumab), commonly used for conditions such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, leukemias/lymphoma etc.;
  • Those who are receiving active treatment for blood or bone marrow cancers;
  • Those undergoing active treatment for solid tumors;
  • Those who are in receipt of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T-cell;
  • Those with moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome);
  • Stage 3 or advanced untreated HIV infection and those with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome; and
  • Those undergoing active treatment with the following categories of immunosuppressive therapies: anti-B cell therapies (monoclonal antibodies targeting CD19, CD20 and CD22), high-dose systemic corticosteroids, alkylating agents, antimetabolites, or tumor-necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors and other biologic agents that are significantly immunosuppressive.

Residents of long-term care homes, retirement homes and First Nations Elder Care Lodges are also now eligible for third doses of a COVID-19 vaccine at a minimum of five months following their second dose, and can be immunized at a private clinic held at their facility.

To further protect these populations, it's strongly recommended that all people that come into close contact (e.g. healthcare workers and other support staff, family, friends, caregivers) with them complete a full two-dose vaccine series (i.e. “ring vaccination”).

Third Doses for Travel

Currently, we are unable to provide a third dose for those wanting a vaccine series with two of the same vaccine. We expect more information to come from NACI and the Ministry of Health on travelling outside of Canada and vaccination.


What is the recommended time interval between second and third doses?

For transplant recipients and eligible treatment patients, the third dose should be offered at least two months after the second dose. Exact timing should be decided with the treating provider in order to get the best immune response from the vaccine series and minimize delays in management of their underlying condition.

The recommended interval for residents of Long-Term Care Homes, High-Risk and Elder Care Lodges is at least 5 months after the second dose. This is consistent with the schedule of other vaccines that similarly utilize a third dose to boost the immune response to a primary series.

I'm Indigenous. How can I get vaccinated?

COVID-19 vaccines are now available to Indigenous individuals 12 years of age or older, whether or not you live in a First Nations community. To learn more about eligibility and when and where you can be vaccinated, contact:

  • For North Bay and area – the Health Unit: 1-844-478-1400.
  • For Mattawa and area – the Mattawa Hospital: 705-744-5511 ext. 2230
  • For Parry Sound and area – the Parry Sound Friendship Centre: 705-746-5970

I’m pregnant. Should I get the vaccine?

Yes. It's recommended that all pregnant individuals, at any stage in pregnancy, get vaccinated as soon as possible. Unvaccinated pregnant individuals are at higher risk for hospitalization, ICU admission, mechanical ventilation and death compared to non-pregnant individuals. COVID-19 infections during pregnancy can be very serious, and the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks.

Should I get the vaccine if I'm breastfeeding?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccination is safe, effective and recommended for individuals who are breastfeeding. The mRNA from vaccines doesn’t transfer in breast milk, but vaccinated breastfeeding individuals produce antibodies which fight the virus that causes COVID-19. These antibodies do transfer in the breast milk and provide protection to the infant.

Who should not get the vaccine?

 Right now, the following people are not routinely being offered the COVID-19 vaccine because they were not included in the vaccine trials:

  • Born after 2009 (for the Pfizer vaccine) or 18 year-olds (for the Moderna vaccine);
  • Acutely ill individuals; as a precautionary measure;
  • Individuals who have received another vaccine (not a COVID-19 vaccine) in the past 14 days.

If you fit in to any of these three categories and believe you would benefit from being vaccinated, talk to your doctor or health care provider.

Is the vaccine mandatory?

Some places, such as hospitals, home and community sevice providers and non-essential services will now require employees, contactors, students and volunteers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccination against COVID-19 is also a common requirement for international travel. Whether you're panning a trip down the street or abroad, check with your destination to learn whether vaccine mandates are in place and what options they may offer if you are unvaccinated. 

What happens if I choose not to be vaccinated?

Some employers requiring their staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 may allow you to go unvaccinated if you can give a medical reason or take an education session on COVID-19 vaccination. Individuals who do not provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 will be have to get tested often for antigens to continue in their role.

Choosing not to be vaccinated may prevent you from day-to-day opportunities, but more importantly, it will increase your risk of catching the virus and passing it on to others. 

Can I just get one dose?

For most individuals, two doses are recommended for maximum protection. 

How long does it take after I’m vaccinated before I am protected against COVID-19?

Studies have shown that the vaccine starts to take effect approximately 14 days after the first dose, and provides even more protection seven to 14 days after the second dose. Here is a summary of estimated vaccine efficacy for vaccines currently being used in our district:

VaccineEfficacy 14 days after dose 1
and before dose 2 (95% CI)
Efficacy >7-14 days after
dose 2 (95% CI)
Pfizer Estimated 93% (69-98%) 95% (90-98%)
Moderna 92% (69-99%) 94% (89-97%)
AstraZeneca 76% (59-86%)* 67% (57-74%)

CI=confidence interval

*from day 22 up to day 90 after dose 1

Will people need to get the vaccine every year?

We do not know at this point if the vaccine will need to be given every year or not.

If I tested positive for COVID-19 in the past, should I still get the vaccine?

Yes. You will have some immunity from your infection, but it is not known how long it will last. There are cases where people have gotten COVID-19 again before they could get vaccinated.

You should not get the vaccine if you're sick or have COVID-19 right now. Wait until you're better to get the vaccine.

I just got vaccinated for something else. Can I still get the COVID-19 vaccine now?

You no longer need to wait 14 days between your COVID-19 vaccine and another vaccine, however, it is good to mention any recent vaccines to the indiviudal giving you your COVID-19 vaccine. 

If I had a reaction to a different vaccine in the past, can I still get the COVID-19 vaccine?

If you had an allergic reaction within 4 hours and/or anaphylaxis that happened with a vaccine or injectable medication that does not contain a component or cross-reacting component of the COVID-19 vaccines, you can receive the COVID-19 vaccine as long as you are observed for at least 30 minutes immediately afterwards. 

If you're unsure, check with your doctor or health care provider. They will look at your medical records and help you make the decision.

Is it acceptable for someone with food or seasonal allergies to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. People with a history of significant allergic reactions and/or anaphylaxis to any food, drug, venom, latex or other allergens not related to the COVID-19 vaccine can get the COVID-19 vaccine followed by observation for at least 15 minutes.

Anyone with allergy issues like allergic rhinitis, asthma and eczema can also receive the vaccine followed by observation for a minimum of 15 minutes.

I had an allergic reaction to a previous dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Should I get my next dose?

  • If you had a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis to a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of its components, you should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine in a general vaccine clinic. An urgent referral to an allergist/immunologist is recommended to assess the method for possible (re)administration of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • If you had an allergic reaction within 4 hours of receiving a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or any of its components, do not receive a COVID-19 vaccine without first being evaluated by an allergist/immunologist to confirm you can safely receive the vaccine. 

Documentation of the discussion with the allergist/immunologist must be provided to the clinic and include:

  • a vaccination care plan 
  • details/severity of the previous allergic episode(s)
  • confirmation that appropriate counselling on the safe administration of vaccine was provided
  • date, the clinician’s name, signature and contact information
  • the patient’s name and date of birth

Booking Appointments

Can I book an appointment for my family member or friend?

Currently, all clinics are tailored to walk-ins, and appointments are unable to be booked.

If appointment booking re-opens, you can book a COVID-19 vaccination appointment for yourself, a family member, friend or someone whose medical care and appointments you manage, as long as you have consent to do so. You may also walk in with them to a COVID-19 vaccine clinic and accompany them throughout the process.

How can I book an appointment?

Currently, all clinics are tailored to walk-ins, and appointments are unable to be booked.

Appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations can be booked online or by phone. Individuals will not be able to book an appointment in-person at Health Unit office locations, or if they do not pass the screening for eligibility.

To book an appointment online, have your health card ready, and go to From there, you will be able to register for an appointment. Once you have filled out all the fields, remember to click "confirm" to save your appointment.

If you're unable to book online, you may book your appointment over the phone by calling the Provincial Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900It is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

You may also walk in to one of our upcoming clinics without booking an appointment. If possible, please bring your health card or other form of ID.

If you have questions or need further assistance, give us a call at 1-844-478-1400.

What if I don't have a health card?

If you do not have a health card, contact our COVID-19 Call Centre at 1-844-470-1400. Our Call Centre hours are 8:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Will the system accept an expired health card?

Yes. Any health card status is accepted, unless the card is marked as lost or stolen. However, you can still book an appointment through a Call Centre agent regardless of the card’s status. 

What do I do if I receive a "Health Card is invalid" message when booking online?

Double and triple check your information to make sure it is correct. 

Can I schedule two people at the same location and time when booking online?

Currently, all clinics are tailored to walk-ins, and appointments are unable to be booked.

Unfortunately booking appointments can only be done one at a time.  However, there are many time slots available at each clinic, often making booking appointments close together possible. You can also walk in to one of our clinics as a pair or small group and receive the vaccine together.

How do I schedule my second appointment?

You no longer need to schedule an appointment. As long as it has been at least 28 days since your first dose, you can walk in to any of our upcoming clinics. 

How do I change, cancel or rebook an appointment?

Currently, all clinics are tailored to walk-ins, and appointments are unable to be booked.

If you scheduled an appointment through the provincial online booking system, you can reschedule or cancel:

  • online – go to the confirmation email you got when you booked and follow the instructions
  • by phone - call the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY 1-866-797-0007)

You will need your:

  • health card (information on front and back)
  • postal code
If you booked your appointment through the Health Unit, call 1-844-478-1400.

What if I forget or lose my appointment information?

If you scheduled a vaccination through the provincial online vaccine booking system and forget when or where your appointment is, call the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY 1-866-797-0007). This line is available 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.

You will need your:

  • health card (information on the front and back)
  • postal code
If you booked your appointment through the Health Unit, call 1-844-478-1400.

Vaccine Clinics - What to Expect

What do I need to bring to my appointment?

Please bring:
  • Your Ontario health (OHIP) card (if you have one) or another piece of government-issued identification
  • Assistive or accessibility devices (if you need them)

Please wear:

  • A face covering at all times
  • A T-shirt or sleeveless top that allows easy access to your upper arm and shoulder area.

Can someone come with me to my appointment if I need help?

You are welcome to bring someone with you if necessary for reasons such as anxiety, mobility or visual impairments. 

Will wheelchairs be available?

Yes. Wheelchairs will be available at all COVID-19 vaccine clinics in our region. Walkers are often available as well.

 Will there be Wi-Fi available to access the barcode that was given to me when I booked online?

Wi-Fi will not be available at the vaccine clinics. To access your barcode, you will have to use your personal mobile data or print your barcode prior to your appointment. However, if you do not have your barcode when you arrive, clinic staff will still be able to access your information using your confirmation number or your health card.

What should I do when I arrive?

  • Do not come if you feel unwell. Stay home and reschedule your appointment if you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to the virus.
  • Be patient.
  • Continue to follow public health measures:
    • Wear a face covering or mask covering the nose, mouth and chin.
    • Keep at least two (2) metres away from people you do not live with.
    • Wash or sanitize your hands often.

How long do I need to stay for after my vaccine?

You will be asked to wait for 15 minutes after getting the vaccine to make sure you are feeling well. Do not drive during this time.

You may be asked to wait at the clinic for up to 30 minutes if there is any concern you might have an allergic reaction.

After Your Appointments

Once I am considered “fully vaccinated,” do I still have to follow public health measures? 

Yes. Please continue to follow public health measures even after you are vaccinated. As larger numbers of people are vaccinated, or trends in the disease change, public health recommendations will likely change as well. Check the Health Unit website regularly to stay up-to-date with current recommendations and regulations.

 How do I get proof of my COVID-19 vaccinations?

Go to, log in with your health card and follow the prompts. You will be able to view, donwload and print your receipt. 

For assistance, contact our COVID-19 Call Centre at 1-844-478-1400. If you wish for us to print a hardcopy for you, please allow one business day for processing.

What if I received my first or both doses out-of-province?


If you have only received your first dose and are looking to get your second:

  • Contact the Health Unit Call Centre at 1-844-478-1400 to book an appointment, and tell the call centre agent that you received your first dose out of province.   
  • Please bring an official record of your first dose with you to your second dose appointment. If you don’t have an official record with you, you’ll be asked to schedule another appointment for a later time when you are able to provide official records of your first dose.
  • If you have not received a copy of your official first dose vaccination records, contact the booking system or health care provider you used to book your first dose.

If you have been fully vaccinated and are requesting to have your records added to the provincial database:

 There are several options to report your vaccine received outside of Ontario. You may:

  • Fax a copy of your vaccination record to our confidential fax number: 705-474-9399
  • Email a copy of your vaccination record to
  • Mail a copy of your vaccination record to one of the Health Unit office locations
  • Bring your documents to the Health Unit office locations and drop off a copy of your vaccination record.

In order to have a valid proof of vaccination record, it must include:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Vaccine product name
  • Vaccine product lot number

To upload your documents into the provincial database, you will need to provide your Ontario Health Card Number at the time of providing your official vaccine record. Please allow at least 5 business days for your record to be updated.

If someone travels after receiving the vaccine, do they still need to self-isolate for 14 days after returning from their trip?

If you're returning to Canada without COVID-19 symptoms and it has been at least 14 days since your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, you may qualify for certain exemptions to quarantine and testing requirements if you:

  1. Get tested for COVID-19 before you return 

  2. Have a quarantine plan

  3. Get tested for COVID-19 again upon arriving in Canada (schedule this in advance)
  4. Upload your proof of vaccination, quarantine plan and information into ArriveCAN

If you meet all these requirements, you won't need to complete the federal quarantine. If you don’t meet the requirements, you'll be asked to follow the instructions provided by a government representative.

Side Effects

Most medications we take have potential for side effect; however, many of them help keep people alive.The risk of COVID-19 is much worse than the risk of the vaccine.

What are the common side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine?

The most common side effects are mild to moderate. They include:

  • pain at the injection site;
  • headache;
  • fatigue;
  • muscle and joint pain;
  • chills;
  • fever.

I had side effects from my first dose. Should I get my second dose?

Even if you experience mild side effects, it is important to receive the second dose. You may get similar side effects with your second dose. 

If you had an allergic reaction to a previous dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, see above.

Are there any serious side effects?

Serious side effects are very rare. However, should you develop any of the following reactions within three days of receiving the vaccine, seek medical attention right away or call 911 if you are severely unwell:

  • Hives;
  • Fever over 40C or 104F;
  • Convulsions or seizures;
  • Very pale colour and serious drowsiness;
  • Swelling of mouth and throat;
  • Trouble breathing, hoarseness or wheezing;
  • Other serious symptoms (e.g., “pins and needles” or numbness).

Rare side effects can be reported to our non-emergency vaccine intake line at 705-474-1400 ext. 5252

If someone gets one or more of the side effects from the vaccine will they need to self isolate and/or get tested since they are on COVID symptom list?

Since it does take an average of two weeks for the body to respond to the vaccine, anyone who has symptoms should self-isolate. It’s possible that someone could have been exposed to the virus in the days leading up to getting the vaccine. If they are feeling unwell they should stay home, self-isolate, and arrange to be tested for COVID-19 if symptoms continue. If they have had a known exposure to a positive or probable case, then yes, they should be tested.

What are the long term side effects of the vaccine?

Manufacturers are planning to follow clinical trial participants. They must communicate any potential safety concerns to Health Canada (Health Canada, 2020). Health professionals are required to report adverse events following immunization (AEFIs) to their local Health Unit so that these reactions can be compiled by Public Health Ontario.

Has the vaccine been shown to cause Bell's Palsy?

No. A direct connection with the vaccine and Bell’s palsy (a condition that causes temporary facial paralysis) has not been found. The Pfizer study examined 38,000 patients and found only four cases of Bell’s palsy among those who received the vaccine, but this is in keeping with the normal observed incidence of Bell's palsy in the population. The COVID-19 vaccine, like all vaccines, continues to be monitored for adverse events.

Does the COVID-19 vaccine cause blood clots?

To date, studies show that a very rare risk of abnormal bleeding and clotting in women under the age of 55 can occur with the use of AstraZeneca. These events occur in one to 10 of 1 million vaccine recipients. It is important to keep this in perspective. You have a higher chance of getting blood clots from birth control or hormone replacement therapy, being pregnant, smoking or even having COVID-19.

Some countries have recently paused the use of certain vaccines (AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson). Ongoing monitoring of vaccines is taking place.

Most medications we take have the potential for side effects; however, many of them help keep people alive. The risk of COVID-19 is much worse than the risk of the vaccine.

Does the vaccine cause myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the tissue surrounding the heart)?

Cases of myocarditis and/or pericarditis in people who received the COVID-19 vaccine are very rare. The benefits of COVID-19 vaccines continue to outweigh their potential risks, as scientific evidence shows that they reduce deaths and hospitalizations due to COVID-19. The Government of Canada encourages people to get vaccinated and to complete their vaccine series as soon as they are eligible.

Can I get COVID-19 from receiving the vaccine?

No, the vaccine does not cause COVID-19; however, it does take an average of two weeks for the vaccine to actually protect against COVID-19, so it’s possible someone could still get the virus after receiving the vaccine if they don’t follow public health measures.

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