COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit for Employers

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Last updated on September 17, 2021

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Ottawa Public Health (OPH) appreciates all the effort your workplaces have put into preventing the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

This toolkit provides basic information on what you need to know about COVID-19 vaccination, the best way for workplaces to build confidence in COVID-19 vaccines, to increase uptake among employees, and to establish supportive policies and best practices.

What role do employers play?

As an employer, you have an important role to play in building vaccine confidence among employees in your workplace. You are well placed to facilitate conversations about vaccines because you are in a position of leadership and you have existing relationships with your staff. Facilitating conversations and giving employees the opportunity to share their concern about vaccines can help increase vaccine literacy, identify barriers to vaccination, and help employees know what to expect before and after getting their vaccine. In order to facilitate these conversations, you will need to equip yourself with the right information. We encourage you to consult this toolkit, the COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs webpage, and the other resources highlighted below to become familiar with how to respond to some common concerns.

Multilingual videos:

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Why should employers promote vaccination?

Consider promoting vaccination in your workplace to:

  • Reduce employee absences due to illness and ensure sustained workplace productivity
  • Keep the workforce healthy by preventing employees from getting COVID-19
  • Boost workplace morale

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Who is eligible to be vaccinated?

People born in 2009 or earlier are eligible to book their first doses and accelerate second dose appointments. For more information, visit Ottawa Public Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine page.

Subscribe to the City’s COVID-19 Vaccine Updates email newsletter to keep informed on changes to the vaccine eligibility and access in Ottawa.

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Where can employees get vaccination?

There are several different ways to access vaccine appointments in Ottawa:

  • Make an appointment online using the provincial booking system or by calling 1-833-943-0999
  • Drop in at an eligible City-run community clinic or at a pop-up clinic; no appointment needed (while supplies last)
  • Find a participating pharmacy near you
  • Contact your primary care provider to find out if they are offering COVID-19 vaccines
  • New! Request a mobile vaccine clinic. If you are a community organization, community leader, faith leader, or employer in Ottawa and have a group of people that may benefit from a mobile vaccination team coming to you, please reach out through the following ways:

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How can employers support vaccination efforts?

A checkmark on a clipboard next to a vial of covid-19 vaccine

How to create a vaccine policy

Ottawa Public Health strongly recommends that Ottawa employers implement workplace vaccination policies to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Ottawa Public Health has released a how-to guide to assist employers in the development and implementation of their workplace vaccination policies. 

This new guide provides employers with key considerations to support the development and implementation of their own workplace vaccination policies. Businesses and workplaces are encouraged to use this guide and policy example as they develop their own policies. While strongly encouraged, these recommendations are voluntary, and are not intended to be legally enforceable under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020.

A download our guide button

  • Lead by Example – Employers should consider taking the vaccines if eligible and encourage employees to follow their lead. This could instill trust and help build strong confidence in the vaccines within your workplace, leading to increased uptake. Spread the word using OPH’s Community Immunity Facebook profile picture frames or graphics.
  • Communicate clearly – Create a communication plan to share credible and transparent facts about COVID-19 vaccines. Sharing basic information with employees can increase their understanding of the vaccine. This will be more effective if you share the information in a variety of ways e.g., virtual townhalls, webinars, COVID-19 fact sheets, email newsletters, stickers, posters, etc.
  • Identify Workplace Vaccine Champions – Encourage influential workers and leaders at the workplace to be vaccine champions and ensure that they reflect the diversity of the workforce.
  • Consider offering time off for your employees to get their vaccine. When possible, offer flexible sick leave options for employees experiencing side effects after vaccination.
  • Consider staggering employee shifts to account for time off taken to get vaccinated and avoid worker shortages.
  • Help your employees to book their appointment or to locate a clinic near them for a walk-up appointment.
  • Be patient - Allow some time for workplace vaccine confidence to grow. When hesitant employees see other coworkers get vaccinated, it may help boost their confidence to also get vaccinated.
  • Engage Employees – Consider hosting listening sessions for Q&As, to gather feedback and answer basic questions from staff. OPH has prepared a guide on How To Talk Vaccines to help you increase vaccine confidence.

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I’ve been vaccinated. Now What?

Thank you for getting vaccinated! This is an important step towards building our community immunity. While we learn more about the virus, the variants, and the protection offered from the vaccines, it’s important to continue following COVID-19 public health measures at home, in the workplace and in the community. COVID-19 vaccination along with public health measures will offer the best protection from the spread of COVID-19.  

Please consult these resources for more information on what you can do after getting your vaccine: 

For additional information on post-vaccination behaviour, visit OPH’s Frequently Asked Questions

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Returning to work post-vaccine

Daily COVID-19 screening should continue for all staff post-vaccine.

Employees can come to work even if they screen positive for the following symptoms within 48 hours after receiving their vaccine, if these symptoms are mild, only began after vaccination, and the employee feels well enough to work:

  • headache
  • fatigue
  • muscle ache
  • joint pain

For more information on side effects, visit OPH’s frequently asked questions.

These symptoms are common in the first 24-48 hours after vaccination and do not require individuals to self-isolate or go for testing. But the symptoms need to be mild (e.g., does not affect usual activities) and after immunization individuals should self-isolate and go for testing for COVID-19 as soon as possible if they have any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever and/or chills  
  • Any respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, runny or congested nose, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, loss of taste or smell)
  • Digestive issues like nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Falling down often


  • Symptom(s) last or develop more than 48 hours after vaccination
  • Symptom(s) persist or worsen for more than 48 hours after the first symptom onset
  • The symptomatic individual has had close contact with a case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days
  • Symptoms begin to affect the individual’s ability to do their usual activities 
  • Symptoms are judged by a health care provider to be severe and/or not in keeping with a COVID-19 vaccination reaction

Ottawa Public Health continues to recommend that anyone with symptom(s) of COVID-19 consult with a health care provider if they have questions or concerns.

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Sample messages to employees

Sample letter to employees to promote vaccine (pdf – 49KB) (This document is currently not in an accessible format. An accessible document will be posted shortly.)

Sample social media messages

These sample social media messages can be shared via your workplace’s internal networks or on your businesses external platforms to help spread the word about #CommunityImmunity.

We also encourage you to share content from Ottawa Public Health’s social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.

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Additional Resources

  1. COVID-19 Vaccine (OPH)
  2. COVID-19 vaccine safety (Province of Ontario)
  3. Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination plan (Province of Ontario)
  4. Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccination (OPH)
  5. What to expect when you get a COVID-19 vaccine (Province of Ontario)
  6. Scams and Misinformation (OPH)
  7. COVID-19 Community Events
  8. COVID-19 Vaccine Promotion Toolkit (Province of Ontario – Ministry of Health / Ministry of Long-Term Care)
  9. Vaccines for COVID-19 (Government of Canada)
  10. COVID-19: Vaccination awareness resources (Government of Canada)
  11. Proof of Vaccination Guidance for Businesses and Organizations under the Reopening Ontario Act (Ministry of Health)

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