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This page includes answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccination, vaccine safety, and the latest information on Halton’s vaccination program. Don’t see an answer to your question here? You can always email accesshalton@halton.ca or call 311.

COVID-19 vaccination

Vaccines are safe and reliable, and can both protect you from COVID-19 and make your symptoms milder if you do get it. When a large percentage of the population becomes immune to COVID-19, the spread of the virus will slow down and may stop. As evidence is evolving on COVID-19 vaccines, additional research will help us to determine what percentage of the population needs to be vaccinated in order to stop its spread.

Vaccines that have been authorized by Health Canada are safe, reliable and can help protect you, your family and our community from COVID-19. The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen COVID-19 vaccines were authorized by Health Canada after thorough and independent reviews determined that they meet stringent safety, efficacy and quality requirements.

As a reminder, vaccines are just one important tool to help stop the spread of the virus and it is important that we all continue to follow public health measures and take everyday actions to stop the spread of the virus.

More Halton residents will become eligible to book their COVID-19 vaccination appointment at a Halton Region Vaccination Clinic, as the Region aligns its vaccination program with the Province’s accelerated rollout (external link).Starting May 31, all residents age 12 or older will be eligible to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment online. All appointments will be contingent on vaccine supply.

To learn who is currently eligible to get vaccinated visit our Who is currently eligible in Halton page. For information on the number of doses administered to date, see our COVID-19 Vaccination Status.

For information on the implementation of COVID-19 vaccines across Ontario, including distribution plans and identification of eligible populations, please refer to the Province’s three-phased vaccine distribution implementation plan.

Canada

canada.ca/covid19 (external link)

  • Approve vaccines for use in Canada
  • Procure vaccines nationally
  • Distribute vaccines to Provinces/Territories
  • Provide NACI recommendations on prioritization of administration to the Provinces/Territories

Ontario

ontario.ca/covid19 (external link)

  • Receive vaccine from Federal Government
  • Prioritize rollout across Ontario, including who gets the vaccine, when and where
  • Distribute vaccine to public health units, hospitals and pharmacies
  • Responsible for vaccine tracking, provincial booking system & call centre and healthcare records management

Halton Region

halton.ca/covid19

  • Receive vaccine from the Province of Ontario
  • Safely store and transport vaccine received from Province
  • Administer vaccines in accordance with the Provincially mandated prioritization framework
  • Coordinate with local hospitals and other healthcare providers

Vaccination against COVID-19 is voluntary, but strongly encouraged. The goal is for every Ontarian to get a COVID-19 vaccination if they want one, as soon as enough doses are available from manufacturers.

Vaccines that have been authorized by Health Canada are safe, reliable and can help protect you, your family and our community from COVID-19. The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen COVID-19 vaccines were authorized by Health Canada (external link) after thorough and independent reviews determined that they meet stringent safety, efficacy and quality requirements.

As a reminder, vaccines are just one important tool to help stop the spread of the virus and it is important that we all continue to follow public health measures and take everyday actions to stop the spread of the virus.

Yes. When eligible, those who previously tested positive for COVID-19 should be vaccinated to protect themselves and others. There are severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and re-infection with COVID-19 may be possible.

At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity developed after having an infection, called natural immunity, is different from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, should not go to a vaccine clinic. Please wait until you are no longer in self-isolation and are feeling well before getting your vaccine.

Fear of needles is very common. However, it’s important that fear of needles doesn’t interfere with good health. Getting your COVID-19 vaccine is an important step to reduce your risk of developing COVID-19 symptoms.

If you are anxious about vaccinations, follow these tips (external PDF):

  • Eat a snack before you come to your appointment.
  • Get comfortable. Sit up in your chair. Make your arm loose or jiggly.
  • If you feel dizzy, tense your stomach and leg muscles.
  • Try belly breathing (pretend to blow out a candle).
  • Do some self-talk. Tell yourself that you can handle this!
  • Allow yourself to daydream while you are getting your vaccine.

Sedation is not an available option at any of our clinics.

It is unknown if the COVID-19 vaccination will become an annual vaccination, like the flu shot. It is too early to know the duration of protection COVID-19 vaccines offer, as these vaccines are new and are still being studied.

Eligibility in Halton Region

Halton Region is following the Province’s implementation plan, including prioritization. For information on groups that are currently eligible for vaccination, please check our Who is currently eligible in Halton webpage.

Please note: Public Health is unable to provide any exceptions.

Halton region is following the eligibility criteria outlined by the province (external link). We are unable to provide exceptions. Public Health does not provide exemption notes.

As more vaccine is made available by the Province, Halton Region will continue to work with partners to provide the vaccine to priority populations as quickly as possible. For information on groups that are currently eligible for vaccination, please check our Who is currently eligible in Halton webpage.

Adults and youth receiving chronic home care (through a Local Health Integration Network or Home Care Agency) can book an appointment online at any of our community clinic locations. Note: To be eligible, individuals must have had their 12th birthday on or before the date of their first dose appointment.

If you are a Halton resident and eligible for vaccination, you can either book an appointment at a location in the community, or at the Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital location, online at halton.ca/COVIDvaccines.

Yes. Individuals part of an eligible group can be vaccinated, regardless of their citizenship status.

When booking your appointment, please make sure that you will still be living or working in Halton for your second dose appointment. Doses are given 16 weeks apart, and should be the same type of vaccine for your first and second dose.

Halton Region COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics

Eligible residents can book an appointment online at Halton’s COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic webpage. Halton residents can also call 311 if they require booking support. Please only call 311 if you are unable to book online to ensure those requiring support can be assisted. For information on groups that are currently eligible for vaccination, please check our Who is currently eligible in Halton webpage.

Appointments will be available on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis. As more clinics open, additional appointment times will become available. 

You do not need a referral from your doctor to book an appointment to be vaccinated. 

Yes. You can book an appointment on behalf of someone else. One person may accompany the person being vaccinated to the appointment, if assistance is required. Only the eligible person will be vaccinated.

If you know anyone who is eligible that may require assistance with booking an appointment, please reach out and help them register for the program.

An Ontario Health card is the preferred form of identification. If you do not have a health card, then bring a piece of identification, or combination of documents, that include a photo, full legal name and date of birth. Other acceptable documents include but are not limited to:

  • driver’s license
  • piece of registered mail
  • pay stub
  • student card
  • other government issued identification, including out-of- province I.D.s or foreign national passports

Electronic versions of documents are accepted. Expired government issued identify documents are also accepted. Individuals may bring more than one identify document to support their identity and age.

For more information, please refer to the Preparing for your vaccination appointment webpage.

At this time, the booking system requires each individual to book separately so that the necessary details for each person are entered into the system. There are multiple appointments for each timeslot in the system. We recommend couples try to select a time slot on a later date (i.e., not the first available) as it may not fill up as quickly. Couples can also call 311 for assistance with their bookings if necessary.

When booking your appointment, please make sure that you will still be in living or working in Halton for your second dose appointment. Doses are given 16 weeks apart (or 28 days apart if you are eligible for shortened dose interval (external link)) and should be the same type of vaccine for your first and second dose.

Currently, Halton Region’s vaccination appointment system books first and second doses at the same time. At this time, we are unable to book just one appointment within the system.

You are encouraged to get your second dose from the same place where you got your first dose to ensure you can get the same vaccine type for both doses.

If this is not possible, you can now book second-dose only appointment through Halton Region’s online booking system (external link). Your second dose appointment will be scheduled 16 weeks from your first dose appointment. If you are eligible for a shortened dose interval, your appointment will be booked 28 days after your first dose appointment (subject to appointment availability). Please check the provincial portal to determine which vaccine type you received on your first dose (external link) (requires green health card) or call the Provincial Vaccine Information Line at 1-888-999-6488 if you have a red and white health card.

When booking or rescheduling appointments, eligible residents have the option to book same-day (“last minute”) vaccine appointments. These appointments will become available when there are last minute cancellations at a vaccination clinic. Your appointment will not be confirmed until you complete the form by clicking “Book now” button. If you select this option, you must arrive at the clinic within 30 minutes of booking and go to the vaccine clinic selected.

If you have another appointment scheduled at a Halton Region vaccination clinic, please cancel your appointment online as soon as possible (external link) so that someone else who is eligible can get the vaccine. If you require assistance cancelling your appointment, please call 311.

Yes. A process has been developed to have paramedics vaccinate individuals who are homebound. Homebound individuals are those who have physical challenges/immobility issues and cannot be transported to a clinic. Each eligible homebound patient can have up to two caregivers immunized with them at their home.

To arrange for vaccination, the primary health care provider of the homebound individual is required to complete a ‘Physician Request Form for COVID-19 Vaccination of Homebound Patients’ and to submit it to paramedicmobileclinic@halton.ca. For further details about this process, have your physician refer to the April 23, 2021 e-fax to physicians. Please contact 311 for any questions about this process.   

At this time, we are unable to book second-dose only appointments for those who received their first dose out of province or in another country. We are waiting for further direction from the province. Once this feature is available, more information will be posted on halton.ca/COVID19vaccines on how to book a second dose appointment.

No. You don’t need to restart the vaccine series if you received your first dose more than 16 weeks ago. While there are recommended minimum timeframes for a second dose, at this time, there is no data about what the maximum interval between doses should be. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) (external link) does not recommend restarting a vaccine series if there is an extended time between doses.

If you already received your first dose and have a second dose appointment booked 16 weeks after the first dose, you can reschedule your second dose appointment to a shorter interval through our online booking system (subject to appointment availability and vaccine supply). You may be able to book your second dose appointment through a participating pharmacy (external link), but should call ahead to confirm availability and eligibility.

If you are eligible for a shortened dose but received your first dose as part of a group receiving their second dose at a 16 week interval (for example, you are a paramedic and received your first dose as a Group 1- Essential Worker) you will need to reschedule your second dose appointment under a different eligibility group. This feature is not yet available, but is coming soon.

Those eligible for a shortened dose interval, who have already received their first dose and have a second dose appointment booked 16 weeks after the first dose, can reschedule their second dose appointment to a shorter interval through Halton Region’s online booking system. The booking system will display all appointments that are available 28 days or more after your first dose. You are not guaranteed to get a shortened interval appointment. Appointment slots are subject to the availability of appointments and vaccine supply.

On May 28, 2021 the Province announced it would be accelerating the rollout of second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine (external link), starting with individuals aged 80 and over. This means that adults 80 years or older will have the option to reschedule their second dose appointments that were scheduled 16 weeks after their first dose.

It is a personal decision to reschedule your second dose to a shortened interval. Here are some considerations that may help you make your decision:

  • It is important that everyone receives a second dose to complete the vaccine series and get maximum protection from developing COVID-19 symptoms, severe illness and death.
  • You can keep your originally scheduled second dose appointment. The appointment will only be changed if you choose to reschedule.
  • You can only reschedule your second dose appointment if there are available appointment times in our online booking system.
  • The interval between vaccine doses can be as short as 28 days or at an extended interval of 16 weeks. At this time, there is no data about what the maximum interval between doses should be.
  • Accelerating second doses will provide more protection to Ontarians sooner. Rescheduling your second dose appointment will not take away vaccines from others. All eligible Ontarians will be offered a vaccine.

If you already received your first dose and have a second dose appointment booked 16 weeks after the first dose, starting June 2 you can reschedule your second dose appointment to a shortened interval (external link) (subject to appointment availability and vaccine supply). You may be able to schedule your second dose appointment through a participating pharmacy (external link), but should call ahead to confirm availability and eligibility.

If you need assistance to reschedule your appointment, a friend or family member can reschedule for you online (external link) or you can call 311.

Youth Vaccination Program

Starting May 31, Halton youth 12 to 17 years old who live or attend school in Halton can book their COVID-19 vaccination appointments through our online booking system as part of the Youth Vaccination Program (external link). Halton Region, in partnership with local school boards, are committed to following Provincial direction to offer first doses to all 12 to 17 year olds in June, and second doses by the end of August (external link).

Appointments for youth will also be available at participating pharmacies offering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to individuals 12 years or older. Appointments must be booked through the pharmacy. Visit covid-19.ontario.ca (external link) for more information on participating locations.

Note: To be eligible, you must have had your 12th birthday on or before the date of their first dose appointment.

Halton students who are 18 to 21 years old and returning to secondary school in September 2021 are also encouraged to get vaccinated through the youth vaccination program in order to receive their second dose by the end of August.

No. The youth must have had their 12th birthday at the time of their first dose. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is the only vaccine in Canada approved for individuals 12 years of age or older at this time.

Health Canada authorizes the use of COVID-19 vaccines for different populations based on scientific evidence. While preliminary clinical studies are underway for youth under 12 years of age, it’s currently unknown when individuals younger than 12 years of age will be eligible for vaccination.

Yes. All youth 12 to 17 years of age living or attending a school in Halton region can be vaccinated regardless of their citizenship status.

Please ensure the youth is available to receive their second dose by the end of August in Halton region.

Yes. The youth will need to bring a piece of identification, or a combination of documents that include a photo, full legal name and date of birth. Accepted documents include but are not limited to:

  • health card
  • passport
  • student card
  • other government issued identification, including out-of- province ID’s or foreign national passports

Youth will be required to provide documents that prove age and residency. If they live outside of Halton region, but attend school in the region, they will need to indicate what school they attend at their clinic appointment but not provide proof. If they do not provide documents that prove age and residency, they must sign a declaration of eligibility at the vaccination clinic.

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 the youth has the capacity to make this decision. This means that they understand:

  • what vaccination involves,
  • why it is being recommended; and
  • the risks and benefits of accepting or refusing to be vaccinated.

Even if the youth is able to provide informed consent, they should talk about this decision with their parent/guardian or an adult you trust such as your principal or a teacher.

If they are not able to consent to receiving the vaccine, they require consent from their substitute decision-maker, such as their parent or legal guardian. For further information, please refer to What youth need to know about their COVID-19 vaccine appointment fact sheet (external PDF) and the Ministry of Health COVID-19 Vaccine Youth (12-17) Consent Form (external PDF).

Youth 16 to 18 years of age who have already received their first dose at a Halton vaccine clinic and need to reschedule their second dose, will be able to reschedule their second dose appointment online (external link) (subject to availability of appointments and vaccine supply). The youth will need to enter their original vaccine appointment confirmation number OR provide their date of birth, last name and postal code.

Yes. Starting May 31, Halton students who are 18 to 21 years of age and returning to secondary school in September 2021 who have not yet booked appointments are encouraged to get vaccinated through the Youth Vaccination Program in order to receive their second dose by the end of August (subject to availability of appointments and vaccine supply).

Students should book their first and second appointments through the online booking system by selecting the “12-17 year olds and eligible students returning to secondary school” tile. (If another eligibility tile in the booking system is selected, the second dose will be booked 16 weeks after the first dose.)

Yes. Those who previously tested positive for COVID-19 should be vaccinated to protect themselves and others. There are severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and re-infection with COVID-19 may be possible.

At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity developed after having an infection, called natural immunity, is different from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, should not go to a vaccine clinic. Please wait until you are no longer in self-isolation and are feeling well before getting your vaccine.

The feature for students 19 to 21 years of age who need to reschedule their second dose appointment online for the month of August is not yet available through our online booking system, but this feature is coming soon.

Halton students who are 19 to 21 years of age and returning to secondary school in September 2021 are eligible to receive their second dose by the end of August. Information about how to rebook their second appointments will be provided in upcoming weeks.

Second dose information

On June 1, 2021, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) released a recommendation on the interchangeability of vaccine types (external PDF). On June 3, 2021, the Province issued updated guidance for individuals who received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine and who have not yet received their second dose (external link), to allow for the mixing of COVID-19 vaccine if desired. Learn more about the mixing of vaccines types (PDF file).

If you received either the Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna vaccine for your first dose:

  • You may receive either Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna as your second dose.
  • The Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines use a similar mRNA technology so the vaccines are interchangeable and safe to mix.
  • Pfizer is approved for those 12 years of age and older. Moderna is approved for those 18 years of age and older.
  • It is not recommended to receive AstraZeneca as your second dose.

If you received the AstraZeneca vaccine for your first dose:

  • You may receive either AstraZeneca or an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna) as your second dose, 12 weeks after your first dose.
    •  To receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, contact the pharmacy or primary care provider where you got your first dose to book an appointment.
    • Effective June 8, residents who received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine can book a single second dose appointment to receive the Pfizer vaccine for their second dose at a Halton clinic. Appointments will be booked at a minimum 12-week interval from their first dose and availability is contingent on vaccine supply. Please note that new appointments for the Moderna vaccine are not available at this time. Residents can also book an mRNA vaccine directly with a participating pharmacy.
  • There is a possibility of increased temporary short-term side effects when getting the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as a second dose, including pain at the injection site, chills, headache, muscle and joint pain and fatigue.

On June 3, 2021, the Province announced two options for individuals who received an AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for their first dose: (external link)

  • Effective June 4, 2021, individuals can receive a second dose of AstraZeneca, 12 weeks after their first dose. Individuals should contact the pharmacy or primary care provider where they received their first dose to book an appointment. Data from the UK strongly suggests a much-reduced risk of Vaccine-Induced Immune Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia (VITT) in second doses of AstraZeneca – one in 600,000. Choosing to receive the second dose of AstraZeneca provides strong protection against COVID-19.
  • Individuals can receive an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) for their second dose, as early as 12 weeks after their first dose. Appointments can be booked through our online booking system or  directly with a participating pharmacy.

There are specific populations who are at very high risk and need increased protection by receiving the second vaccine dose faster. The following groups identified by the Province are eligible for a shortened (28 day) dose interval (external link):

  • Highest priority health care workers (external link);
  • Designated Essential Caregivers of those living in seniors congregate settings;
  • All Indigenous Peoples (and household members); and
  • Individuals with the following health conditions or treatments provided they complete a medical exemptions form (PDF file) with their physician:
    • Transplant recipients including solid organ transplants and hematopoietic stem cell transplants (including patients waitlisted for transplant).
    • Individuals with malignant hematologic disorders and non-hematologic malignant solid tumors receiving active treatment (chemotherapy, targeted therapies, immunotherapy).
      • Excluding individuals receiving solely hormonal therapy or radiation therapy.
    • Individuals undergoing hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis
    • Individuals receiving treatment with an anti-CD20 agent (examples: rituximab, ocrelizumab, ofatumumab)

In addition, the Province announced plans to further accelerate second dose appointments (external link). Currently, Halton residents 70 years age and older, and any residents who received their first dose on or before April 18 are also eligible for a shortened dose interval.

If you belong to one of these groups and are booking a first dose appointment the second dose will be automatically be booked at this shortened interval.

If you already received your first dose and have a second dose appointment booked 16 weeks after the first dose, you can reschedule your second dose appointment to a shorter interval (external link) (subject to appointment availability and vaccine supply). You may be able to book your second dose appointment through a participating pharmacy (external link), but should call ahead to confirm availability and eligibility.

As the body works to build immunity, it is common to have temporary side effects after receiving many vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine. After any second dose, regardless of the vaccine (AstraZeneca, Moderna, or Pfizer), you may feel more, the same, or fewer side effects than after your first dose.

In clinical trials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (external link), mild to moderate side effects (such as fever, chills, tiredness and headache) were more common after receiving the second dose of the vaccine.

If you have a side effect after receiving the vaccine, contact your health care provider who will report the side effect directly to public health. Public health will keep track of the reported side effects to make sure the vaccine continues to be safe.

Starting March 10, 2021, Halton Region followed provincial direction to book second dose appointments 16 weeks after the first dose (external link). Based on provincial direction, a number of groups are now eligible for a shortened dose interval (refer to the Who is currently eligible in Halton webpage).

On May 28, the Province announced plans to further accelerate second dose appointments (external link), starting with individuals 80+. 

Our program and ability to open more appointments is dependent on vaccine supply. Information on when additional groups will be eligible to reschedule second dose appointments, as directed by the Province (external link), will be announced as vaccine supplies are confirmed.

For best results, it is important that everyone receives a second dose (with the exception of the Janssen vaccine) and completes the series.

While there are recommended minimum timeframes for a second dose, at this time, there is no data about what the maximum interval between doses should be. Health Canada will continue to monitor this new dosing interval for safety.

No. Guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization guidance for Canada (external PDF) says that you are “fully immunized” once you have two doses of COVID-19 vaccines. The two doses do not need to be of the same vaccine. For example, you can receive AstraZeneca for your first dose and either AstraZeneca, Moderna or Pfizer for your second dose. After your second dose, you are considered “fully immunized”.

The second dose will give you stronger and longer lasting protection from COVID-19. It is important to get your second dose as soon as you are eligible.

Research from AstraZeneca clinical trials found that individuals had stronger protection from COVID-19 if they received their second dose 12 weeks after their first dose compared to 28 days after their first dose.

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