Doctors. We lead you to better health.

COVID Vaccine

Ontario’s doctors answer COVID-19 vaccine questions

Getting a COVID-19 vaccination is one of the most important and effective things Ontarians can do to stop the pandemic. Ontario’s doctors are sharing their expert advice to ensure Ontarians have the information they need to keep their families safe and healthy.

For information about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout visit the government on Ontario’s website.

Here are the top COVID-19 vaccine questions and answers:

COVID Vaccine

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

All vaccine candidates are heavily scrutinized in clinical trials and by Health Canada. The approval process is rigorous. Even after approval, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada continue to monitor the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

COVID Vaccine

Who will get the vaccine first?

All adults in Ontario are eligible to book an appointment to get vaccinated for COVID-19. During the week of May 31, children 12 and older will be able to book a vaccine appointment through the provincial booking system. The government of Ontario has implemented a three-phase vaccination plan that details who is eligible to receive the vaccine, who will administer the vaccines and the timeline for each phase. For more information on the vaccine rollout in Ontario, visit the government’s COVID-19 vaccine website.

COVID Vaccine

Where will we go to get the vaccine? When is it our turn?

Mass vaccination sites, family doctors’ offices, pharmacies and mobile pop-up clinics are all administering COVID-19 vaccines. Where you get vaccinated depends on several factors including your region and your priority for receiving the vaccine as defined by the provincial vaccination plan.

Family doctors have a role in administering the vaccine. Doctors will contact their eligible patients with details. Please do not call your doctor to book an appointment for the vaccine. Doctors need to keep phone lines open for sick patients who have immediate questions.

For more information about COVID-19 vaccine administration sites, visit the government of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine website.

COVID Vaccine

When will children get the vaccine?

The Pfizer vaccine is approved for people 12 years of age and older. During the week of May 31, children ages 12 and older will be able to book a vaccine appointment through the provincial booking system.

COVID Vaccine

Is the vaccine safe for pregnant and breastfeeding individuals?

Pregnant women are considered highest-risk in the provincial vaccine plan and are eligible to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment immediately.

Pregnant individuals may choose to receive the vaccine after counselling by their treating health-care provider or by a health-care provider familiar with their pregnancy. If, after this counselling, the pregnant individual feels the potential benefits of vaccination outweigh the potential harms, they should be able to access the vaccine. Verbal confirmation that the person received counselling should be provided at the time of vaccination as part of informed consent to receive the vaccine. Learn more.

COVID-19 vaccines were not studied in the breastfeeding population but breastfeeding individuals may choose to receive the vaccine.

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

COVID Vaccine

What will I feel like after the vaccine? What are the side effects?

You can expect to feel similar to what you feel after receiving the flu vaccine. In the short term, you may experience minor symptoms such as localized swelling or pain at the injection site. You may also feel unwell or get a headache or fever that lasts a few days.

COVID Vaccine

I have heard that people who have experienced anaphylaxis or allergies should not take the vaccine? Who else should not take the vaccine?

Health Canada recommends those who have experienced anaphylaxis should avoid the vaccine only if they’ve had an allergic reaction to the first dose of the two-dose regime, or those allergic to one of the components. Individuals with severe allergies unrelated to vaccines, such as people with food allergies, can be vaccinated for COVID-19.

Learn more about at-risk populations for the COVID-19 vaccine.

On May 11, 2021, Ontario paused the administration of first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, citing an increasing rate of rare blood clots and an increased supply of other COVID-19 vaccines. If you got your first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine you did the right thing. Individuals who got their first dose of the AstraZeneca can receive a second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The government is also preparing guidance for those who received a first dose of AstraZeneca so they can make an informed choice about their second dose. Additional information for those who received a first dose of AstraZeneca:

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended on May 3, 2021, that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine not be given to anyone under 30 because of the risk of extremely rare blood clots. These rare blood clots are treatable. The risk of developing a blood clot following an AstraZeneca vaccination is estimated to be between one in 26,000 and one in 100,000 in Canada - based on evolving data. The risk of developing blood clots if an individual contracts COVID-19 is high, with 30 to 70 per cent of ICU patients with COVID-19 developing blood clots.

COVID Vaccine

How does the mRNA vaccine work and what do we know about this new technology?

Pfizer and Moderna are both mRNA vaccines. After receiving a mRNA vaccine, your body makes a protein that mimics part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, to trick your body into thinking it’s infected. Your body responds by generating an immune response, which includes producing antibodies. Part of the immune response will also remember if it encounters the virus in the future, helping to fight off future infection. While this is a new vaccine, it is not new technology. The messenger RNA response has been used for other medical treatments. You can not contract COVID-19 from the vaccine.

COVID Vaccine

Why do we need two shots, and when can we consider ourselves protected?

The level of immune response begins to show 10-14 days after the first dose, but clinical trials show that to receive the best response and optimal immunity, two doses are required up to four months apart.

COVID Vaccine

How long will this vaccine protect us? Will we need to get it annually like the flu shot? How is the COVID-19 vaccine different from the flu vaccine?

We do not know how long it will protect us, but the vaccine will continue to be studied to understand if we require annual vaccines, as we do with the flu shot. The flu vaccine triggers an immune response with a weakened or inactivated virus, whereas the COVID-19 vaccine tricks our bodies cells into creating a foreign protein that triggers an immune response. Both types of vaccines allow our bodies to produce antibodies that protect us from getting infected.

COVID Vaccine

How soon after getting the vaccine can we return to life before COVID-19?

It may take months or even years to see a dramatic decline in cases following the vaccine. Until we see a significant impact on the pandemic, public health and all levels of government will continue to mandate COVID-19 precautions such as physical distancing, wearing masks and frequent hand washing.

COVID Vaccine

Should I get the vaccine?

Yes. Ontario’s doctors trust the COVID-19 vaccines because they are safe and they work. We encourage the public to receive the vaccine when they are able to. Ask your doctor to learn more.