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The approval and availability of COVID-19 vaccines is an important step in our collective response to stop the spread of the virus. While it is a light at the end of the tunnel, we must keep our guards up and continue practicing all public health measures that remain in place.

 

This page provides information on Health Canada’s approval of COVID-19 vaccines, the Province’s distribution plans (external link) and will be regularly updated as more information becomes available on vaccine availability and administration in Halton region.

About COVID-19 vaccines

Many potential vaccines are being investigated in Canada and worldwide for use against COVID-19. Vaccines that have been authorized by Health Canada are safe, reliable and can help protect you, your family and our community from COVID-19. It is important that we all continue to follow public health measures and take everyday actions to stop the spread of the virus.

COVID-19 vaccination:

  • will work with your immune system to help protect you from COVID-19;
  • is a safe way to help build protection against the virus;
  • will help build herd immunity, stopping the spread of the virus in our community; and
  • is voluntary, but strongly encouraged.

Authorized COVID-19 vaccines: Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech

COVID-19 Vaccination Program in Halton

On December 11, Ontario announced a three-phase implementation plan to receive, store and distribute COVID-19 vaccines across the province. The Provincial Government determines where the doses will go, who will receive it and when.

Halton Region Public Health is responsible for the allocation and administration of the vaccines at a regional level, based on the Province’s implementation plan. Public Health is working closely with partners to roll out the vaccine as quickly and equitably as possible. While the availability of COVID-19 vaccines is exciting, please be patient while priority populations are vaccinated. Planning is underway to ensure that everyone in Halton who wants the vaccine can receive it following the vaccination of priority populations.

Please see the Province’s three-phase implementation plan below and the status of COVID-19 vaccinations in Halton. More information will be provided as details are confirmed.

Phase Population to be Vaccinated Status


One

  • Residents, essential caregivers and staff of congregate care settings for seniors.
  • Health care workers.
  • Adults in First Nations, Métis and Inuit populations.
  • Adult recipients of chronic home health care.
  • Vaccinations underway
  • In mid-January, Halton Region Public Health and Halton Region Paramedic Services began mobile vaccination clinics for residents and staff at long-term care and high-risk retirement homes, starting with long-term care, as identified in the Province’s vaccine implementation plan(external link). This program remains contingent on vaccine supply.
  • The mobile teams completed first doses for long-term care home residents on January 23. Staff, residents and their caregivers in long-term care and high-risk retirement homes will be notified about the vaccination program by their home’s Director of Care to prepare for clinics as more vaccine supply is confirmed. For more information, refer to the COVID-19 Vaccination in Long-Term Care and Retirement Homes in Halton region section on this webpage.
  • Halton Healthcare(external link) began vaccinating prioritized healthcare workers in late-December and will remain as a fixed site/clinic, focusing on administering the second dose to those who have been vaccinated and other prioritized groups contingent on vaccine supply. This clinic will remain as appointment only and is not open to the public.
  • On January 20 Halton Regional Council passed a resolution calling upon the Federal Government to speed up the delivery of vaccines. As more vaccine is made available from the Province, Halton Region will continue to work with partners to provide the vaccine to our current priority populations a quickly as possible. Read the January 21, 2021 media release.


Two

  • Expanded to
    • Older adults, beginning with those 80 years of age and older and decreasing in five-year increments over the course of the vaccine rollout;
    • Individuals living and working in high-risk congregate settings;
    • Frontline essential workers (e.g., first responders, education workers, food processing industry);
    • Individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers; and
    • Other populations and communities facing barriers related to the determinants of health across Ontario who are at greater COVID-19 risk
  • Planning - Expand vaccination sites in Halton region and Ontario (timing dependent on availability of vaccines).


Three

  • Planning - Vaccines widely available across Halton region and Ontario (timing dependent on availability of vaccines).

Please visit Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine webpage for additional information on the status of COVID-19 vaccines in Ontario.


COVID-19 Vaccination in Long-Term Care and Retirement Homes in Halton region

Mobile teams of Halton Paramedics, working with Public Health staff, are working to vaccinate staff and residents at all long-term care and retirement homes, starting with long-term care homes and high-risk retirement homes. Mobile vaccination began mid-January and is contingent on supply of vaccine.

Residents and their substitute decision makers will be notified about the vaccination program by their home’s Director of Care.

The home’s Director of Care will also provide you with instructions, a consent form and a pre-clinic information sheet that must be completed in order to receive the vaccine.

What to expect at the home and at the vaccination appointment:

  • A mobile team of Halton Paramedics will administer COVID-19 vaccines in a safe and effective manner, visiting residents in their rooms on the day of the on-site vaccine clinic.
  • Residents/substitute decision makers will be asked to provide consent in advance of the scheduled vaccine clinic, and residents will be asked questions about their health on the day of the clinic.
  • Residents will be monitored for any adverse reactions immediately following the vaccine.
  • If any serious symptoms develop, residents/caregivers/family members should report them to facility staff or seek immediate medical attention.
  • Mobile clinics will follow all infection prevention and control (IPAC) protocols to keep residents safe and to protect those administering the vaccines. This will include the use of required personal protective equipment (PPE) by the Paramedics.
  • Residents will be scheduled to receive a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine, to complete the vaccine series within an appropriate time interval.
  • I’ve received my first dose
    Staff may have received their first dose at either the Halton COVID-19 Vaccination Centre at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital or their facility’s clinic. The second dose must be received at the same clinic location. Information on how to book your appointment at the Halton COVID-19 Vaccination Centre can be found in the information/letter provided by your Director of Care. Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital will inform you if your appointment to receive a second dose needs to be delayed.
  • I have not received my first dose
    Staff, residents and their caregivers in long term care and high risk retirement homes will be notified about the vaccination program, including preparation for clinics in advance of receiving supply, by their home’s Director of Care.

We know that many family members and/or essential caregivers are critical in the overall care that residents receive.

  • I’m an essential caregiver and received my first dose already
    Essential caregivers who have received their first dose of vaccine at the Halton COVID-19 Vaccination Centre located at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital must receive their second dose of vaccine at the same location, however, it may be delayed. Information on how to book your appointment with the Halton COVID-19 Vaccination Centre can be found in the information/letter provided by your Director of Care.
  • I’m an essential caregiver and have NOT received my first dose yet
    Staff, residents and their caregivers in long term care and high risk retirement homes will be notified about the vaccination program, including preparation of clinics in advance of receiving supply, by their home’s Director of Care.
  • Who is considered an essential caregiver?
    Under the Provincial Government’s Directive #3 (external link), essential caregivers are individuals who are designated by the resident and/or substitute decision maker and provide direct care to the resident (for example, provide feeding, mobility, personal hygiene, cognitive stimulation, communication, meaningful connection, relational continuity and assistance in decision-making).

COVID-19 vaccine safety

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were authorized by Health Canada after thorough and independent reviews determined that they meet stringent safety, efficacy and quality requirements. Learn more about how vaccines are developed and approved in Canada (external link).

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine information

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine uses a method called messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. The mRNA in the vaccine tells the body’s cells to make "spike proteins," similar to what is found on the COVID-19 virus. The immune system responds to the spike proteins by making antibodies. These new antibodies will break down the spike proteins and get rid of them. The new antibodies will protect against COVID-19 infection in the future. The mRNA is broken down by the body shortly after injection and cannot affect the body’s DNA. mRNA vaccines are not live vaccines and cannot cause infection.

Two doses of the vaccine are required for full protection, given 21 to 28 days apart. It can be given to people 16 years of age and older, including seniors. After completing the two-doses, it may take another seven days to achieve maximum protection against COVID-19. At this time, there is no information on the long-term protection with this vaccine. In trials, the vaccine was 95% effective.

There is a small chance that you may still get COVID-19 after being vaccinated. It is important to continue to follow public health measures such as physical distancing, wearing a mask, and staying home if you are sick. Health care workers and other staff must still wear personal protective equipment (PPE) even after they have been vaccinated.

Some people may experience side effects from the vaccine, but they will likely be moderate and resolve after a few days. Some of the symptoms are part of the body’s response to developing immunity to a virus.

Common side effects that have been reported in clinical trials for this vaccine include:

very common ≥10%
(more than 1 in 10 doses)

  • pain at the injection site
  • headache
  • feeling tired
  • muscle or joint pain
  • fever or chills

common 1%-10%
(1 in 100 to 1 in 10 doses)

  • redness & swelling at the injection site

uncommon 1%
(1 in 100 doses)

  • enlarged lymph nodes

In rare cases, serious allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) can occur. Allergic reactions can be treated and are usually temporary. Seek medical attention if you have trouble breathing, have hives or swelling of the mouth and throat or a high fever (over 40 degrees C or 104 degrees F). Vaccine side effects will continue to be monitored as people receive the vaccine. If you get a reaction to 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.

  • Delay getting vaccinated if you have a fever or are sick with COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Avoid trying to get pregnant for at least two months after getting both doses of the vaccine.
  • People with a bleeding disorder or who are on blood thinner medications should consult their health care provider before getting vaccinated.

Do not get this vaccine, if you:

  • are under 16 years of age;
  • are pregnant or breastfeeding;
  • have an autoimmune disorder or a weakened immune system due to illness or treatment; or
  • have an allergy to an ingredient in the vaccine or had a previous severe reaction to this vaccine.
  • have received another vaccine in the past 14 days (not a COVID-19 vaccine)

Moderna vaccine information

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine uses a method called messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. The mRNA in the vaccine tells the body’s cells to make "spike proteins," similar to what is found on the COVID-19 virus. The immune system responds to the spike proteins by making antibodies. These new antibodies will break down the spike proteins and get rid of them. The new antibodies will protect against COVID-19 infection in the future. The mRNA is broken down by the body shortly after injection and cannot affect the body’s DNA. mRNA vaccines are not live vaccines and cannot cause infection.

Two doses of the vaccine are required for full protection, given one month apart. It can be given to people 18 years of age and older. After completing the two-doses, it may take another fourteen days to achieve maximum protection against COVID-19. In trials, the vaccine was 94% effective.

Health Canada (external link) reported that side effects that followed administration of the Moderna vaccine were mild or moderate and are common of many vaccines, including:

  • pain at the site of injection
  • body chills
  • feeling tired
  • feeling feverish

Speak with your health care professional about any serious allergies or health conditions before receiving the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccine side effects will continue to be monitored as people receive the vaccine. If you get a reaction to 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.

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is approved for use in people 18 years of age and over. Additional information will be posted as it is released from Health Canada.

What can I do right now?

The approval and availability of COVID-19 vaccines is an important milestone, however must not replace the public health measures that remain in place. This includes:

  • Staying home, except for essential purposes such as going to work or school, buying essential items like groceries or medicine or attending medical appointments.
  • Limiting close contact to those that live with you, and maintaining a two metre (six foot) distance from anyone outside of your household (including family and close friends) and wearing a mask.
  • Avoiding all social gatherings such as play dates, birthday parties, and dinner parties with friends or family.
COVID-19 Core Information

COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

Updated January 23, 2021

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 and Moderna 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.

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 and Moderna 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.

COVID-19 vaccination helps protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience the illness of COVID-19. Getting vaccinated can reduce your risk of developing COVID-19 and make your symptoms milder if you do get it.

More specifically, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines use a method called messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. The mRNA in the vaccine tells the body’s cells to make "spike proteins," similar to what is found on the COVID-19 virus. The immune system responds to the spike proteins by making antibodies. These new antibodies will break down the spike proteins and get rid of them. The new antibodies will protect against COVID-19 infection in the future. The mRNA is broken down by the body shortly after injection and cannot affect the body’s DNA. mRNA vaccines are not live vaccines and cannot cause infection.

Yes. Those who previously tested positive for COVID-19 should still 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. We need more information on how well the vaccine works to be able to assess how long immunity from the vaccine will last.

Yes. The approval and availability of the COVID-19 vaccine is an important milestone, however, it must not replace the public health measures that remain in place. This includes:

  • Staying home, except for essential purposes such as going to work or school, buying essential items like groceries or medicine or attending medical appointments.
  • Limiting close contact to those that live with you, and maintaining a two metre (six foot) distance from anyone outside of your household (including family and close friends) and wearing a mask.
  • Avoiding all social gatherings, indoors and outdoors, such as play dates, birthday parties, and dinner parties with friends or family.

For more information on public health guidance, visit halton.ca/COVID19.

Dependent upon supply, individuals will receive the second dose between 21-42 days after the initial dose.

Halton's vaccination program

The Provincial Government determines the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines across Ontario (external link) and prioritizes who is eligible to receive them. Halton Healthcare received its first shipments of COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer BioNTech) and began vaccination in late December, focusing on priority populations as directed by the Province, including healthcare workers from long-term care homes, retirement homes and patient-facing hospital staff and physicians.

In early January, the Province approved the ability to move/transport the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. As such, Halton Region Public Health and Halton Paramedic Services has begun transporting the vaccine from Halton Healthcare and administering to residents at all long-term care and retirement homes, starting with long-term care.

Get the latest updates on the status of Halton’s vaccine program.

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 (external link).

Canada

canada.ca/covid19 (external link)

  • Approve vaccines for use in Canada
  • Procure 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 and local hospitals
  • Responsible for vaccine tracking and healthcare records management

Halton Region

halton.ca/covid19

  • Distribute and administer vaccine to long-term care and retirement home residents and staff, contingent on supply
  • Support hospitals in operation of vaccine clinics for prioritized healthcare workers
  • Plan for Phase 2 (expanded priority populations) and Phase 3 (general population) rollout in Halton based on the Province’s plan
  • Safely store vaccine received from the Province

Local Hospitals

Halton Healthcare (external link) & Joseph Bran Hospital (external link)

  • Receive and store Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
  • Administer Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine through hospital clinics to priority populations identified by the Province (not open to the public)

At this time we are not able to provide specific timelines for when different groups will be eligible for vaccination. Timelines are dependent on supply of vaccines.

The Ministry of Health has identified residents, essential caregivers and staff of congregate care settings for seniors as a priority group for Phase 1 of the three-phased vaccine distribution implementation plan (external link), and Halton Region Public Health is following this provincial direction.

As more vaccine is made available from the Province, Halton Region will continue to work with partners to provide the vaccine to priority populations a quickly as possible.

When more groups are eligible to receive the vaccine, this will be widely communicated to the public. In the meantime, for latest updates regarding the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, please visit halton.ca/COVID19.

The following people are currently eligible for vaccination as part of Phase 1 of the Province’s three-phased vaccine distribution implementation plan (external link):

  • Residents, essential caregivers and staff of congregate care settings for seniors;
  • Health care workers;
  • Adults in First Nations, Métis and Inuit populations; and
  • Adult recipients of chronic home health care.

In Halton, there will be a phased approach to providing vaccine to these populations, contingent on supply of the vaccine from the Province.

Phase 2 of the plan includes an expansion of these priority populations and Phase 3 will include anyone who wants the vaccine (expected spring 2021).

The Province has also released an Ethical Framework for COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution (external link), which was developed in partnership with the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force to further guide vaccine prioritization and distribution across the province. While the availability of COVID-19 vaccines is an important milestone, please be patient while priority populations are vaccinated. More information will be provided as details are confirmed.

The Province’s three-phased vaccine distribution implementation plan (external link) indicates that in Phase 2 (expected to begin in March 2021) vaccination will be expanded to older adults, beginning with those 80 years of age and older and decreasing in five-year increments over the course of the vaccine rollout. Once details are confirmed, Halton Region Public Health will provide an update to the community on who is eligible, and when and where seniors can get a vaccine.

Halton Region Public Health is currently working to provide regular data on the local COVID-19 vaccine program. We will update the community when the data is available and please check back here regularly for updates.

In the meantime, the Province is updating their website regularly (external link) with the number of doses administered across the province, including Halton Region and all other health units.

  • The Moderna vaccine is not currently available in Halton. The Province determines supply prioritization and the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. On January 5, the Provincial Government announced (external link) that residents, health care workers and essential caregivers at long-term care homes in priority regions (Toronto, Peel, York and Windosr-Essex) would receive the first allotment of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
  • As more vaccine is made available from the Province, Halton Region will continue to work with partners to provide the vaccine to priority populations a quickly as possible.

Vaccine safety

No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently approved by Health Canada use the live virus that causes COVID-19. Vaccines “teach” the immune system to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as pain at the injection site, fatigue and/or headaches.

It can take the body a few weeks to build immunity after receiving a vaccine. It is possible that someone could become infected with the COVID-19 virus before or just after getting the vaccine and get sick. This can happen because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection to the body.

Vaccines authorized by Health Canada for use against COVID-19 are safe and effective. While the vaccines are safe for most people, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) (external link) recommends that the COVID-19 vaccine should not be routinely offered to the following populations until further evidence is available, as they were not included in clinical trials for the Pfizer BioN Tech vaccine:

  • Under 16 years of age
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding /chestfeeding
  • Immunosuppressed due to disease or treatment, or suffering from autoimmune disorder
    Individuals with stable health conditions such as, diabetes, high blood pressure, HIV and hepatitis B or C, may receive COVID-19 vaccines provided they are not on medications that weaken the immune system.

If you are in one of the populations listed above, consult your healthcare provider before getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Your healthcare provider will review the risks and benefits of getting vaccinated based on your health condition.

Halton Region Public Health is not able to provide personal medical consultations. Please speak with your health care provider if you have additional questions about COVID-19 vaccines.

If someone experiences a reaction following vaccination, they should report it to a health care professional, such as a family doctor. The reaction may or may not be caused by the vaccine.

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 and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were authorized by Health Canada after thorough and independent reviews determined that they meet stringent safety, efficacy and quality requirements.

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