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About the COVID-19 vaccines

Details about vaccine dosing, interchangeability, and vaccines for children.

Getting fully vaccinated

To be fully vaccinated you’ll need to have received all required doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine (your second dose of a 2-dose vaccine, or a single dose of a 1-dose vaccine).

You’re fully vaccinated when it has been at least 14 days since you received the last vaccine dose.

If you are immunocompromised, you should continue to follow all standard public health direction (e.g., self-isolate after being exposed to a person who has COVID-19), even if you are fully vaccinated. If you have questions, speak to your healthcare provider.

Health Canada has evaluated, licensed and approved the following COVID-19 vaccines for use in Canada:

All approved COVID-19 vaccines have been approved by Health Canada on the basis of their quality, safety and efficacy. All the vaccines were proven to be effective at preventing COVID-19 symptoms, and preventing severe complications of COVID-19 such as hospitalization and death.

The vaccines are free with no cost to the public. The vaccines currently approved for use in Canada do not contain any animal-derived ingredients. Learn more about the authorized vaccines and their ingredients from Health Canada.

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine approval process and safety from the Ministry of Health.

Getting the vaccine is an additional way to protect yourself against COVID-19.

After receiving either dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, you should continue to follow all public health measures, including wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing, and washing your hands.

You should also continue to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, and get tested if you have symptoms.

Vaccine dosing

The Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines need 2 doses. Initially the time between the first and second doses in Ontario was 4 months. This allowed more people to get the benefit of immunity from a first dose when vaccine supply was limited. However, with recent increased vaccine supply in Ontario, this interval is being shortened.

Research and real-world experience have shown that even with a single dose of the vaccine, there is protection from severe complications, hospitalization and death due to COVID-19. For ongoing and stronger protection, it’s essential that you complete your vaccine series by receiving a second dose.

Other information

The COVID-19 vaccines are given by an injection into the muscle of the arm. You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.

If you get vaccinated and are exposed to COVID-19, it's not yet known if you can still give the infection to someone that has not been vaccinated. That's why, even after being vaccinated, it's important to continue to follow these actions to stay safe and take care of each other.

Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are messenger RNA vaccines, often called mRNA vaccines. mRNA vaccines teach our cells to make a protein that triggers an immune response. Our cells break down and destroy the mRNA after the protein has been created.

mRNA vaccines do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19 infection, and they do not enter the part of the cell where our DNA is stored. The vaccine cannot alter your DNA in any way.

Learn more about COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.

Both AstraZeneca and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) are viral-vector-based vaccines.

Viral vector-based vaccines use a harmless virus, such as an adenovirus as a delivery system. Adenoviruses are viruses that cause the common cold. This vector virus is not the virus that causes COVID-19.

Once injected into the body, the virus contained within the vaccine produces the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein which helps the body to build a strong immune response to COVID-19 Learn more about viral vector-based vaccines.

The Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine can be given to anyone aged 12 years and older. The Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccines can be given to anyone aged 18 years and older.

If you've had COVID-19 before, you're still encouraged to get the vaccine because protection from re-infection is uncertain at this time.

You may receive your COVID-19 vaccine at any time after you have recovered as long as you have completed self-isolation and you have been without symptoms for at least 24 hours.

Precautions for certain groups

Additional precautions are required in some cases. Consult your health care provider before getting vaccinated if you have:

  • A compromised immune system or an autoimmune condition.
  • Experienced a serious allergic reaction (including anaphylaxis) to another vaccine, drug, or food.
  • A bleeding disorder.

If you’re allergic to any component of the vaccine or if you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, consult with your health care provider before getting vaccinated.

Wait to get the vaccine if you're sick, have COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19, or have received other vaccinations in the past 2 weeks.

Getting a complete vaccination series is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself from COVID-19. The best vaccine protection that you can receive is the one that is available to you the soonest. For some people, that may mean that getting a second dose of a vaccine that is different than your first.

In Canada, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has advised that, based on current scientific evidence and expert opinion, mixing different vaccines is safe and effective to protect against COVID-19. Based on this, in Ontario, you are now allowed to receive a different type of COVID-19 vaccine for your first and second doses, in order to complete your vaccination series.

Individuals who received the AstraZeneca vaccine are recommended to get an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) for their second dose after 8 weeks. There is evidence that having an mRNA vaccine after an AstraZeneca vaccine will boost the immune response, which is the desired effect of any second dose of a vaccine.

Those who received two doses of the AstraZeneca can feel assured that this vaccine helps protect you against COVID-19 infection, and it provides very good protection against becoming severely ill or hospitalized.

Speak with your health care provider for help understanding your options and to make sure you do not have any medical reasons that may impact which vaccine you should receive.

Individuals who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine as their first dose (either Pfizer or Moderna) will be offered their second dose of an mRNA vaccine. When available, the same mRNA brand will be provided, for your second dose, however, if the same mRNA vaccine brand is not readily available, another mRNA vaccine can be substituted to complete the 2 dose vaccine series. Pfizer and Moderna are both mRNA vaccines which work similarly. Substituting one for the other is safe and effective.

Receiving your second vaccine dose is essential to provide you and your community with better and longer lasting protection against COVID-19. Unless your health care provider has told you to wait, receiving a second dose of any vaccine should not be delayed as the Delta variant of COVID-19 is in Peel and is highly transmissible.

Student COVID-19 vaccination webinar recording

Peel Public Health recently hosted a webinar for students, parents, and guardians to talk about the COVID-19 vaccine, its safety and effectiveness in youth.
Access the webinar video recording.

Health Canada authorized the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children 12 to 15 years of age after determining that it is safe and effective at preventing COVID-19 in this age group. A clinical study in over 2000 adolescents has shown that this vaccine prevents COVID-19 infection, including severe complications and death.

Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada are continuing to closely monitor the safety of the vaccine and will take action if any safety concerns are identified. Refer to Health Canada’s statement for more information on the approval.

Why it’s important for children and youth to get vaccinated.

COVID-19 affects both children and adults. COVID-19 in younger people is usually milder than in adults. However, there is a small percentage of children that could develop long-lasting effects (such as prolonged cough, fatigue) or severe symptoms requiring hospitalization. In rare cases, children can develop multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) which can include complications such as cardiac abnormalities, kidney injury and neurological complications.

Although severe disease is rare in children and youth infected with COVID-19, even with no symptoms, they can spread COVID-19 to others in their household or community with potentially serious consequences for all age groups.

Vaccinating children and youth will not only help to protect them from severe COVID-19 outcomes, but will protect those around them, including vulnerable populations and people who cannot receive theCOVID-19 vaccine.

It’s important for everyone to get vaccinated as soon as it is their turn.

What to consider when getting the vaccine

Most children can safely get the vaccine unless they have known allergies to specific components of the vaccine. Additional precautions may be required if your child has a history of serious allergic reactions, symptoms of myocarditis and/or pericarditis after the first dose of the vaccine, or other conditions such as a bleeding disorder or autoimmune condition. If you have concerns, talk to your child’s doctor.

Current evidence shows only rare side effects to the COVID-19 vaccines. Similar to adults, children who are immunocompromised or have certain health conditions may especially benefit from vaccination as they are at increased risk of more severe symptoms or complications from COVID-19. There is also no evidence to suggest that the vaccine will affect future fertility in children.

In Canada, there have been rare reports, in all age groups, of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining around the heart) following vaccination. Refer to more information on vaccine side effects, including myocarditis and pericarditis.

The benefits of getting vaccinated continue to outweigh any potential risks. Everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated and to complete their vaccine series as soon as they are eligible.

How to get the vaccine

Children must be at least 12 years old and free of any COVID-like symptoms at the time of vaccination. They must wait 2 weeks after receiving any other vaccine, and they must schedule any other vaccine they are receiving at least 4 weeks after having the COVID-19 vaccine.

The time between the first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine is the same for children and adults. In Ontario, children will be prioritized to receive their second dose in August, so that they are fully vaccinated before returning to school in September.

Find out how to book a first or second dose appointment for children 12 years or older.

Currently, there are no mandatory requirements for children to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in order to attend school in person.

Peel Public Health requires consent for all individuals receiving COVID-19 vaccination. Children 12 years or older can provide informed consent provided they understand the treatment, why it is being recommended, and the risks and benefits of accepting or refusing to be vaccinated.

Parents or guardians can accompany their child to their vaccine appointment. If a child is not capable of consenting to receiving the vaccine, they will require verbal or written consent from their parent or legal guardian. This is consistent with legal allowances in the Health Care Consent Act.

How to help your child prepare for the COVID-19 vaccine

Parents are encouraged to talk to your child about the risks and benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Let them know they will be receiving the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine and review any relevant materials together before your child attends their vaccination. Refer to more information from Health Canada about the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, including how it works, how it's given and how it was approved for use.

In clinical studies, side effects of the vaccine in children were shown to be similar to those experienced by adults. Refer to more information on side effects you can expect, and when you should seek medical attention. Discuss these possible side effects with your child, so they know what to expect after they get their vaccine.

Parents and children must continue to protect themselves and others after being vaccinated. After receiving either dose of the vaccine, it is important to continue to follow public health measures, such as wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing and washing your hands.  When enough people are vaccinated, and the number of COVID-19 cases in our community goes down, we will be able to get back to the activities we enjoy.

Resources

The following resources have been developed for youth, and their parents or legal guardians to review to help support making an informed decision about vaccination:

COVID-19 vaccine information for youth
Information from the province of Ontario on youth vaccination, including why you should vaccinate, how to book and get your vaccine and what to do after vaccination. The website also includes community resources, as well as translated fact sheets.

Kids Health First
Information from the Children’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Table including resources for parents, caregivers and youth, and answers to common questions about vaccination.

If you received a COVID-19 vaccine outside of Ontario, the record of your vaccine will not be automatically entered into the Peel Public Health or Ontario Ministry of Health systems.

For your vaccines to be recorded in the Ontario Ministry of Health system, you must provide a record of vaccination.

If you received your first COVID-19 vaccine outside of Ontario, a record of your first out-of-province dose must be recorded in the Ontario Ministry of Health system so you can get your second dose.

Why reporting out-of-province vaccinations matters

Submitting a record of an out-of-province vaccination to Peel Public Health is not mandatory unless you want to get your second dose at a Peel Public Health clinic.

However, you can choose to report any out-of-province vaccinations to Peel Public Health.

If you do decide to submit record of your out-of-province vaccination, we’ll review your record and enter it into the Ontario Ministry of Health COVID-19 Vaccine system, on your behalf. Reporting your out-of-province vaccination does not fulfill any provincial or federal requirements related to travel.

Reporting will help Peel Public Health monitor vaccine coverage.

Reporting out-of-province vaccinations online

In keeping with Ministry of Health guidelines,  only these COVID-19 vaccines are approved for use in Canada:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech (also known as COMIRNATY or Tozinameran)
  • Moderna
  • AstraZeneca (also known as COVISHIELD or Vaxzevria)
  • Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)

If your first or second dose was a Canada-approved vaccine

Submit your record of vaccination through our online reporting tool.

When submitting your record of vaccination, you’ll need to provide a phone number and email address so we can reach you about your record. If you do not have your record of vaccination, contact the health care provider who gave you the vaccine and ask for a copy.

After you submit your record of vaccination, you will receive a confirmation email  

You will receive email notification when we’ve completed our review and submitted your record to the Ministry of Health.

If you’re submitting your first dose, once your record of vaccination is in the Ministry’s system, you can book your appointment for your second dose.

If you’re submitting your second dose, once your record of vaccination is in the Ministry’s system, no further action is necessary.

Report your vaccine

If your first dose of vaccine is not approved in Canada

Do not submit record of vaccination through the online reporting tool. Instead, restart your vaccination series to receive a Health Canada approved vaccine at least 28 days after your last dose of any COVID-19 vaccine.

If you received both doses of a vaccine not approved for use in Canada and not approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO)

If you were vaccinated outside of Canada, you may have received a vaccine not approved by Health Canada or the WHO for emergency use. Do not submit record of vaccination through the online reporting tool. Instead, restart your vaccination series to receive a Health Canada approved vaccine at least 28 days after your last dose of COVID-19 vaccine. If you are not sure whether the vaccine you received has been listed for emergency use by the WHO, speak with your primary care provider or call our vaccination line at 905-791-5202.

If you received both doses of a vaccine not approved for use in Canada but approved for emergency use by World Health Organization

If you were vaccinated outside of Canada, you may have received a vaccine not approved by Health Canada, but which may have been approved by the WHO for emergency use. Individuals who have received all recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine that has been listed for emergency use by the WHO are considered to have a complete vaccine series and do not need any additional doses. If you are unsure whether the vaccine you received has been listed for emergency use by the WHO, please speak with your primary care provider or call our vaccination line at 905-791-5202.

Like all vaccines, some people may experience side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. These side effects will likely be mild to moderate and resolve after a few days. They include pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, chills and fever. Some of these side effects are part of the body’s response to developing immunity.

Serious side effects after receiving the vaccine are rare. If you develop any serious symptoms or symptoms that could be an allergic reaction, seek medical attention right away.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

  • Hives (bumps on the skin that are often very itchy)
  • Swelling of the face, tongue, or throat
  • Difficulty breathing

If you experience a severe allergic reaction, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.

It's important to follow up with your health care provider if you experience serious side effects. Health care providers can find information on reporting an adverse event on the Health Professionals page.

Myocarditis and Pericarditis

The Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada are monitoring Canadian and international reports for myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining around the heart) following vaccination with an mRNA vaccine (e.g., Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna).

Cases of myocarditis and pericarditis following vaccination are very rare and have been reported in a small number of people in Canada and internationally. Cases typically occur within a week of receiving an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine and are more common after a second dose. Typically these events have been mild and treatable. These events will continue to be monitored closely, and appropriate action will be taken if any new safety issues are identified.

If you experience any of the following symptoms of myocarditis and/or pericarditis within several days of vaccination, it is important that you seek medical attention from your healthcare provider:

  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling of a fast, pounding, or fluttering heartbeat.

If myocarditis or pericarditis is confirmed after the first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, you should not receive your second dose until further recommendations are released from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). If your doctor determines that your symptoms after your first dose are not myocarditis or pericarditis, you should bring a note from your doctor to the COVID-19 vaccine clinic for your second dose.

What happens right after your vaccine

A 15-minute stay

Immediately following your vaccine, a clinic employee will recommend that you wait inside the clinic for 15 minutes. This waiting period will ensure that you’re feeling well.

Though uncommon, fainting or an allergic reaction can happen after vaccination. Our clinic employees are prepared to manage these events if they happen.

A clinic employee might ask you to wait up to 30 minutes if there’s a concern about a possible vaccine allergy.

While you’re waiting:

  • Tell a clinic employee if you start feeling unwell.
  • Keep your mask on and stay at least 2 metres away from others.

When your 15-minute time is over:

  • Use the alcohol-based hand rub to sanitize your hands before leaving
  • You can operate a vehicle or other form of transportation if you’re feeling well.

How you might feel after your vaccination

Severe reactions to mRNA vaccines are rare

A small number of cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) or pericarditis (inflammation of the lining around the heart) have been reported in Canada and around the world. Typically these events have been mild and treatable.

Common, expected side effects can develop in a day or two after getting the vaccine. Although these side effects are not serious to your health, they may make you feel unwell for a day or two.

Placing a cool, damp cloth at the injection site may reduce soreness. Pain or fever medication (such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen) may help reduce overall body pain or fever.

To get the best protection against COVID-19, it’s crucial that you get a second vaccine dose, even if you experienced mild side effects after your first dose.

If you’re concerned about any side effects you experience after receiving the vaccine, contact your healthcare provider. You can also contact your local public health unit to ask questions or report an adverse reaction at 905-799-7700.

What to do after being vaccinated

  • Keep practicing public health measures such as physical distancing, washing your hands, or using hand sanitizer often, wearing a mask and limiting or avoiding contact with others outside your household.
  • Speak to your health care provider if you’re planning to become pregnant or find out you are pregnant before your appointment for your second dose.
  • Print your COVID-19 immunization receipt from your vaccination and keep it in a safe place.
  • Bring your COVID-19 immunization receipt with you for your second dose of vaccine.
  • Do not get any other vaccines until you’ve received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine (unless another type of vaccine is considered necessary by your health care provider).