Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccination

Last revised on December 1, 2022

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COVID-19 Booster Doses

What is the ‘new’ Bivalent booster vaccines and what does it mean?

Health Canada has approved the use of two bivalent COVID-19 vaccines.

  • The Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty bivalent (30 mcg) COVID-19 vaccine for those 12 years of age and older.
  • Moderna Spikevax bivalent (50 mcg) COVID-19 vaccine for adults aged 18 years and older. 

‘Bivalent’ means that the vaccine causes the immune system to create antibodies against two different types of COVID-19 virus.

The bivalent vaccines are adapted versions of the Moderna Spikevax and Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccines. They target the original COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) virus as well as Omicron variants.

Residents are encouraged to get any bivalent vaccine as soon as they are eligible, to be better protected against the circulating Omicron variants. Bivalent COVID-19 boosters are safe and produce a strong immune response.

For more information see:   An Advisory Committee Statement (ACS) National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) Updated guidance on COVID-19 vaccine booster doses in Canada

Public Health Agency of Canada: SUMMARY OF NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEEON IMMUNIZATION (NACI) STATEMENT OF OCTOBER 7, 2022 Updated guidance on COVID-19 vaccine booster doses in Canada

When can I get a COVID-19 bivalent booster dose?

Health Canada has authorized two bivalent Omicron containing mRNA COVID-19 vaccines:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty Bivalent (30 mcg) COVID-19 vaccine for use as a booster dose in people 12 years of age and older.
  • The Moderna Spikevax Bivalent (50 mcg) COVID-19 vaccine for those 18 years of age and older.

See eligibility, Who can receive the bivalent booster dose? and All Ontarians Aged 12+ Eligible for Bivalent Booster

Ontarians aged 12 and older are able to receive a bivalent booster dose. Appointments can be booked now through the COVID-19 vaccination portal or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900. Appointments are strongly recommended as drop-in capacity may be limited. Some primary care physicians are also providing booster doses.  Ottawa residents are encouraged to reach out to local participating pharmacies online  to find those that provide the booster doses.

The Ontario Ministry of Health, in alignment with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), recommends that COVID-19 booster doses are offered at an interval of 6 months after a previous COVID-19 vaccine dose or COVID-19 infection, regardless of the product offered. However, a shorter interval of at least 3 months may be used with informed consent. This may depend on vaccine supply and availability. 

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends that the authorized dose of a bivalent Omicron-containing mRNA COVID-19 vaccine should be offered as a booster dose to the authorized age groups.

Ottawa Public Health strongly recommends that the following vulnerable groups book a bivalent COVID-19 booster appointment as soon as possible (at the shortened interval of three months) to protect themselves this fall as more people spend time indoors:  

  • individuals aged 65 and over;
  • residents of long-term care homes, retirement homes, Elder Care Lodges and individuals living in other congregate settings that provide assisted-living and health services;
  • First Nation, Inuit and Métis individuals and their non-Indigenous household members aged 18 and over;
  • Individuals 12 years of age and older with an underlying medical condition that places them at high risk of severe COVID-19 including moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals
  • pregnant individuals; and
  • health care workers.
What is the difference between a “three-dose primary series” and a “booster dose”?

A ‘three-dose’ primary series refers to a series of three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to make up a primary series offered to those who are immunocompromised or vulnerable. A third dose is added to the standard “primary vaccine series” to improve the immune response and establish an adequate level of protection for those who did not develop immunity or did not develop an optimal immune response after a 2-dose primary series.  

In short – a primary series for most healthy people remains 2-doses, and for these people, a third (booster) dose is offered to boost the immune system. A three-dose primary series is offered to those who are immunocompromised to ensure they have an adequate immune response and are protected.  

Why should I get a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Booster doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are readily available to strengthen protection against severe illness and complications due to COVID-19.   

A booster dose restores protection, that may have decreased over time to a level that is no longer effective, in people who initially responded well to a “complete vaccine series.”   

A booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will help restore and maintain protection against infection and help reduce your risk of severe illness, complication, or death due to COVID-19. For some, a first and second booster dose is now recommended. 

Why should I get a booster dose of the COVID-19, as a pregnant person?

Receiving an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series is highly recommended for individuals who are pregnant, and studies have shown that it is safe right before and/or while pregnant.  

Getting an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is an effective way to prevent complications and bad outcomes for parent and baby should you be infected with the virus.   

Pregnant individuals who contract COVID-19 are at an increased risk of severe illness requiring hospital care and admission to the intensive care unit compared to those who are not pregnant.  

The antibodies a pregnant individual makes from the vaccine pass to the baby and help protect the baby after birth. Giving birth too early in pregnancy (preterm birth), having a caesarean delivery and having a baby admitted into a neonatal intensive care unit is more common in pregnant people with severe COVID-19.  

The side effects after receiving an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in individuals who are pregnant are the same in those who are not pregnant. If you’re feeling unsure about getting your third dose, speak with your health care provider or specialist. They can answer your questions and help you to better understand your individual risks.

Is it safe to mix vaccines when receiving a booster dose?
  • Children five to 11 years are currently eligible to receive a single booster dose of monovalent Pfizer-BioNTech (10 mcg).

    Children aged 12 years and older are eligible to receive a bivalent booster. The bivalent Pfizer-BioNTech (30mcg) booster dose is the only authorized bivalent dose for those 12 to 17 years old.

  • An mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, such as Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty or Moderna’s Spikevax, can be used for boosters in individuals who are eligible. This is the recommendation whether you received AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD, Janssen or an mRNA vaccine previously. The Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine is preferentially recommended as a booster dose in individuals five to 17 years of age.
  • While OPH offers both mRNA vaccines in its community clinics, several factors are considered when deciding what brand you will receive. You may not get to choose which mRNA brand you receive based clinical assessment and eligibility factors. Currently, and in accordance with guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.
Do I need a booster dose if I had COVID-19 recently and have some natural immunity? 
  • Currently, data is limited regarding the immune response provided by prior COVID-19 infection and the length of protection provided. However, there is early evidence that immunity from previous COVID-19 infection without vaccination does not provide the best protection against reinfection with COVID-19.  
  • Developing immunity from infection, sometimes called “natural immunity,” requires exposure to an unpredictable virus with known serious consequences including risk of severe illness and death. Vaccines provide a way for your body to develop its own natural immunity to COVID-19 without the risk of severe disease from COVID-19 infection.     
  • Vaccination is recommended for everyone regardless of previous COVID-19 infection to prevent serious illness and complications from COVID-19.
  • As per the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, longer intervals between doses has shown to result in better immune response and somewhat better vaccine effectiveness than shorter intervals. Consult your health care provider for individual recommendations and to assess personal risks and benefits of receiving vaccination earlier.  
How soon can I get a booster dose after a COVID-19 infection or suspected infection?

Those who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 should still be vaccinated with a booster dose and people do not need COVID-19 testing prior to vaccination.

  • Both the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) and the Province recommend that individuals needing a booster dose who experienced COVID-19 infection after completing their primary series wait for six months (168 days) after symptoms started or after testing positive (if no symptoms were experienced) before receiving a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals may choose to receive their booster dose as early as three months (84 days) after their COVID-19 infection with informed consent
  • For the purposes of COVID-19 vaccination, a previous COVID-19 infection includes individuals who received a positive COVID-19 test result (either a PCR or Rapid Antigen Test) or who was a household contact of a confirmed case and had COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, or suspect having contracted it, should wait until they have recovered, completed the self-isolation period, and are feeling better before getting vaccinated. This will help to prevent exposing others at a vaccination clinic to the virus. 

Proof of vaccination regulation

How do I get a copy of my ‘vaccine receipt’ after I have been vaccinated?

After each dose of the COVID-19 vaccine that you get, you will be able to log into the provincial portal to download and or print an electronic COVID-19 vaccine receipt. The vaccine receipt will be a pdf document with a QR code that can be scanned by businesses using the Verify Ontario App .

You will need the following to log into the provincial portal:

A green photo health (OHIP) card (you will need the numbers from the front and back of the card, expired cards will be accepted)

Your date of birth

Your postal code that is associated with your health card

  • Red and white health card: call the Provincial Vaccine Booking line at 1-833-943-3900. You will be emailed a copy of the vaccine receipt after your request.
  • Individuals who do not have a health card but were immunized in Ontario and need proof of vaccination can call 613-691-5505 and listen to the options.
  • Individuals who do not have access to a computer and printer can drop into any of our Neighbourhood Vaccination Hubs where an OPH staff can help to download and print your vaccination receipt.

Can Ottawa Public Health upload vaccine exemptions documents to the Verify Ontario app, so I can use my QR code to show proof my medical or clinical exemption?

Any person who has a medical exemption to COVID-19 vaccines will need a provincially issued digital QR Code to access certain businesses and settings that voluntarily require proof of vaccination. Medical exemptions to obtain the QR code can only be granted by physicians and nurse practitioners licensed in Ontario. Once proper documentation is received from a physician or nurse practitioner Ottawa Public Health can generate the QR codes.

As per provincial guidance, true medical exemptions are expected to be infrequent and should be supported by expert consultation. Further information is available for physicians and health care professionals.

Clinics, accessibility and transportation

Am I eligible for in-home vaccination?
  • If you have a health condition or special needs that prevents you from visiting a local clinic, pharmacy, or your primary care provider to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, a team can come to your home to offer vaccination to you and to your caregiver. 
  • Please call 613-691-5505 to request an in-home vaccination. 
  • A nurse will contact you to assess your eligibility and obtain more information to book a date and time. 
Are the vaccine clinic sites accessible?

Yes, they are. The City of Ottawa's Accessibility Design Standards were used to select the sites. These standards include considerations of accessibility under the Building Code. Site visits were done to make sure that:  

  • The doors had operators 

  • Washrooms were accessible 

  • Ramps were installed where needed

  • Accessible parking is available

  • Seating is available for those who cannot stand for long periods

  • There are designated Para Transpo drop off/pickup locations, with an indoor waiting area

  • There is promotion of a scent free environment 

Considerations of wide corridors and turning radius will be maintained during the clinics. Additional disability related supports can be provided when identified at the time of booking appointments. 

Due to limited availability, we are asking for those who can bring their own wheelchairs. Howeverstandard and bariatric wheelchairs are available at all clinic sites. 

Staff will be on hand at the clinics to assist residents who arrive for their vaccinations. Please let staff know what support you require when you arrive. Clients who need assistance will be allowed one support person to accompany them into the vaccination clinic. 

You will be seated while you wait for your vaccine. Bariatric chairs are available at all sites. 

Low sensory, quiet areas are available at all sites. Please let staff know if you require access to this space. 

If you require additional disability-related accommodations, please fill out this COVID-19 Vaccine accessibility assessment form at least 48 hours in advance of your appointment. With less than 48 hours, Ottawa Public Health will strive to meet all accommodation needs, however, may not be able meet all requirements. 

Should you need assistance in completing the accommodation request form, please contact Ottawa Public Health at 613-691-5505.

Is parking available at the community clinics?

Free parking options are available at each of the community clinic locations

Transportation to COVID-19 vaccination clinics and Para Transpo

Residents who are eligible for vaccination are encouraged to make a transportation plan in advance of their appointment. This could include using public transit or asking a friend, family member or caregiver to provide a ride to your designated vaccination clinic.

There are several support services available to assist in getting to and from your appointment:

  • Use the Travel Planner to plan your trip to any of the vaccine clinics located across the city.
  • If you are a Para Transpo user, you can book your ride through the COVID-19 Vaccination Trip Reservation telephone line at 613-842-3600 between the hours of 10 am and 8 pm.
  • If you are a resident age 65 years or older or an adult with disabilities you can request a ride through Ottawa Community Transportation after you have booked your appointment. Ottawa Community Transportation will contact you directly to confirm your transportation.

If you or someone you know requires transportation but do not have online access, please contact 211. A representative will assist in completing the online form on your behalf. Please have your vaccine booking confirmation number available when calling.

  • If you are not eligible for support through Para Transpo or Ottawa Community Transportation, you can request a ride with a volunteer driver through the VaxAide online form, or by calling 613-869-8221.

COVID-19 protocols are in place to ensure the safety of the rider and the driver, and wearing a mask is mandatory.

How can I support a friend, family member or neighbour with booking their vaccine appointment?

If you are helping someone book their vaccine appointment, there are a few things you will need to do and have available to you. Ideally, and if it can be done safely, the person is with you to clarify information, or answer questions.  

  • Obtain your family member, friend, or neighbours consent to help them book their vaccine appointment as you will be providing that person’s personal health information for a health screening  

  • Visit ottawapublichealth.ca/COVID19Vaccine to check the current criteria for eligibility 

  • If they are eligible, follow the instructions listed and/or call the phone number listed to book an appointment 

  • If booking by phone, tell the booking agent that you are helping another person to book an appointment and have their consent to make an appointment on their behalf  

  • Make note of the date, time and location of the appointment. Give this information to the person you are helping. 

To support someone with booking their vaccine appointment, you will need their:  

  • Date of birth 

  • Address and postal code  

  • Contact information (telephone, email) 

  • Background health information. The booking agent will do a health screening. The person will need to speak to their health care provider to discuss the vaccine before booking if any of the criteria below apply

  • You will be asked if the person: 

  • Has had an allergic reaction to a previous vaccine 

  • Has an autoimmune disease or is immunocompromised 

For residents whose first language is not English or French, a translation service is available. Please tell the booking agent which language you need support in.   

Note: A support person can go with another person to a vaccine appointment, if needed.  

How can I support someone who I am a Power of Attorney (POA) or Proxy for, when I cannot attend a vaccine clinic with them, but they require support to complete their consent? 

If you are a POA, or a proxy for someone who needs support with consent, it is preferred that you attend the clinic with the person being vaccinated.

If you are unable to go with the person to their vaccine appointment, a completed electronic copy of the consent can be brought to the clinic. The consent should be completed, including the complete name of the POA, and their phone number. While an electronic copy is preferred, if this is also not possible, a paper copy can be brought to the clinic.

OPH vaccine clinics are paperless, paper consents are not kept with the clinic.

To find the consent form, please visit the Ministry of Health- COVID-19 Vaccine Consent Form Version 3.0 - March 11, 2021 COVID-19 Vaccine Consent Form (gov.on.ca).

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Youth vaccine information

Can children and youth aged 12 to 17 years consent to receive a COVID-19 vaccine? 
Yes. The Health Care Consent Act, 1996 of Ontario, states that there is no minimum age for consent to health care. Children and youth aged 12 to 17 will be able to consent for themselves at their vaccine appointment. Children or youth will only be given a vaccine if they are able to make the decision and show that they understand what the vaccine is for and why they are getting it. People getting a vaccine should understand:
  • The treatment (COVID-19 vaccine) and side effects
  • Why it is recommended
  • Risks and benefits if they get the vaccine, or do not get the vaccine

The individual giving the vaccination and the family must respect the young person’s decision about the vaccine. This means, it is possible your child could refuse the vaccine even if you wish them to have it. OPH recommends that parents and guardians discuss the COVID-19 vaccine with their eligible child(ren) before the vaccine appointment. The COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary.

If a child or youth is unable to consent for themselves, a substitute decision maker such as a parent or guardian, needs to provide consent.

A parent or guardian can attend a vaccine appointment with their child, however it is not required unless the child cannot consent for themselves or needs support. 

What can I expect at my COVID-19 vaccine appointment?   
Please arrive at the clinic site, no more than 10 minutes before your appointment time. Once you come into the building you will be screened for COVID-19 and asked about your scheduled appointment. Make sure you bring:
  • Your booking confirmation code or email. Check your junk folder if you have trouble finding your email
  • Your Ontario health card, if you have one. If you do not: a letter from your school, medical provider or faith leader with the child’s name, date of birth and address.
  • Your immunization record, if available, to keep track of your COVID-19 vaccine
  • An allergy form, if you have a suspected allergy to a COVID-19 vaccine or any of its ingredients or have had a previous allergic reaction to a vaccine
  • A mask
  • A support person, if needed. This could be your parent, or guardian or someone else that provides support

For more information:

What other resources do I need to know about? 
The Link Ottawa- TikTok @thelinkottawa 

The Link Ottawa- Instragram @thelinkottawa 

Am I mandated under the Immunization of School Pupils Act to disclose my child’s COVID-19 vaccination status? If so, should I complete a Statement of Conscience or Religious Belief?

No, you are not currently mandated to disclose your child’s COVID-19 vaccination status or complete a Statement of Conscience or Religious Belief. The Statement of Conscience or Religious Belief applies to mandatory vaccines listed in the Immunization of School Pupils Act. Although the COVID-19 vaccine is highly recommended for those eligible, it is not currently mandated. Your child’s vaccination status may be requested by OPH as part of case and contact management if they have an exposure to determine their isolation requirements. Further guidance from OPH will be provided when contacted.

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Novavax (Nuvaxovid) COVID-19 vaccine

What is the Novavax Covid-19 vaccine?

The Novavax Nuvaxovid COVID-19 vaccine is a 2-dose recombinant protein subunit vaccine. It is authorized for use in adults 18 years of age and older.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends an interval of eight weeks between dose one and dose two.  

NACI preferentially recommends that a complete series with an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to individuals in the authorized age group without contraindications to the vaccine. 

NACI recommends that an authorized recombinant protein subunit COVID-19 vaccine (Novavax Nuvaxovid) may be offered to individuals in the authorized age group without contraindications to the vaccine who are not able or willing to receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.  

Novavax Nuvaxovid may be used in a mixed primary series (after one or two doses of mRNA vaccine) or as a booster dose for individuals not able to receive an mRNA vaccine due to contraindications, or who choose not to receive an mRNA vaccine.

What is a recombinant protein subunit vaccine?

A recombinant protein subunit vaccine is a type of vaccine that uses harmless and purified proteins of the virus to trigger an immune response in the body. The immune response means our body will recognize and fight the virus if ever exposed. Some protein subunit vaccines, such as Novavax, also have adjuvants. An adjuvant is a substance that is added to the vaccine to help create a stronger and longer lasting immune response. 

These types of vaccines cannot cause COVID-19. They only use small, purified pieces of proteins to trigger the immune response, and do not contain the virus itself.  

Protein subunit vaccines are already used for other vaccine preventable diseases, such as the Hepatitis B vaccine.   

Eligibility for the Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine

The mRNA vaccines remain the recommended vaccine to offer to eligible individuals. Those 18 years of age or older can receive the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine if they meet the following criteria: 

  • Are 18 years of age or older 
  • Live, work, or attend school in Ottawa 
  • Do NOT have a confirmed allergy to any of the vaccine components or its container (the vial stopper is bromobutyl rubber which is latex free). Please see Health Canada for a full list of vaccine ingredients.   
  • Not able to receive an mRNA vaccine due to contraindications, or would prefer not to receive an mRNA vaccine

Please see the Vaccination of specific populations FAQ for more information on the NACI recommendations for specific populations.

How can I get the Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine?

You cannot book through the provincial portal. Booking will be through your local public health unit. Use this online form to register for a Novavax COVID-19 vaccine.

Common side effects of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine

It is common to have temporary side effects after getting vaccinated.  

At the injection site:  

  • Redness, soreness, swelling  

General symptoms:  

  • Chills 
  • Fatigue 
  • Joint pain 
  • Headache 
  • Mild fever  
  • Muscle aches 
  • Nausea and vomiting  
What information is there regarding Myocarditis and or pericarditis following vaccination?

The clinical trial data shows that there have been mild cases of myocarditis and or pericarditis reported after receiving the Novavax Nuvaxovid COVID-19 vaccine. According to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), it is unclear whether these cases are indicative of a safety signal. Post-market safety surveillance, which is routinely done, is required to determine whether this is an adverse event of interest associated with Novavax Nuvaxovid. 

For more information see Ministry of Health COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance and COVID-19 vaccine: Canadian Immunization Guide  

Vaccination of specific populations

Please see the COVID-19 vaccine: Canadian Immunization Guide.

According to NACI, the safety and efficacy of Novavax Nuvaxovid have not been established in the following populations: 

  • Individuals previously infected with SARS-CoV-2; 
  • Individuals who are immunocompromised due to disease or treatment; 
  • Individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding; 
  • Individuals who have an autoimmune condition. 

Informed consent should include discussion that there is currently limited evidence on the use of the Novavax Nuvaxovid in these populations, while there is evidence on the safety profile and effectiveness of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in these populations based on real world use with large numbers of individuals.  

NACI will continue to monitor the evidence and update recommendations as needed.

Are there any contraindications or special precautions for the Novavax vaccine?

At the time of approval, there are no known serious warnings or precautions associated with the Novavax Nuvaxovid COVID-19 vaccine. 

Allergy to ingredients in a vaccine or its container is considered a contraindication. A potential allergen found in the Novavax vaccine is polysorbate 80. This is found in several medical preparations like vitamin oils, tablets, anticancer agents, and also in cosmetic products. For a full list of ingredients please see Novavax Nuvaxovid COVID-19 vaccine

Booster use

Booster dose(s) of Novavax may be offered to individuals without contraindications who are not able or willing to receive an mRNA vaccine, regardless of which COVID-19 vaccines were received in the primary series.

In Ontario, a booster dose is recommended at least five months after the completion of a primary series (either a 2-dose primary series, or a 3-dose primary series for individuals who are immunocompromised) for eligible individuals.

For more information see Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Administration

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Vaccines received outside of Canada, Ontario or Ottawa, or through a Federal program

If I received one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in one city in Ontario, can I receive my next dose in a different city in Ontario?

Yes. If you received one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in one part of Ontario, you will be able to get your next dose in another city or town, if needed.

When you are registering for your next dose in the Provincial booking system, use the postal code of the address you will be at during the time of your appointment.

For example, if you received your first dose in Ottawa, but will be moving to Toronto for school in the fall when you are due for your second dose, use your new address when booking your dose.

I have received one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine while in a different province or country. What should I do?

If you have received one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine outside of the Province of Ontario, you may provide your proof of immunization to Ottawa Public Health. Complete the COVID-19 Out of Province Dose Documentation form to notify Ottawa Public Health of your out of province dose administration, and upload the documentation you have received.

Do not use this form to submit medical exemption information.

This form is to be completed by City of Ottawa residents only.

If you live outside of Ottawa, but within Ontario, contact your local public health unit to submit proof of your out of province vaccination.

If you are visiting Ottawa, you do not need to complete this form. If you are visiting from outside of Canada, please consult the Government of Canada's entry requirements.

I received one or two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not approved for use in Canada, while outside of the country. Am I eligible to receive any other doses?

If you received one or two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine series outside of Canada, that is not currently approved for use in Canada, you are eligible to receive an additional dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. You are also eligible to receive a booster dose three months (84 days) after your additional dose if you are 18 years of age and older or six months (168 days) after your additional dose if you are 12 years of age and older. Please visit a COVID-19 vaccination clinic to receive your COVID-19 vaccine that is approved for use in Canada. You may also be eligible to receive a second booster which is recommended five months (140 days) after your first booster. For more information and to determine if you are eligible for a second booster, see Who Can Receive their Fourth Dose? 

If you reside in Ottawa, please Complete the COVID-19 Out of Province Dose Documentation form to notify Ottawa Public Health of your out of province dose administration, and upload the documentation you have received.

I received three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not approved for use in Canada, while outside of the country. Am I eligible to receive any other doses?

If you received three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine series outside of Canada, that is not currently approved for use in Canada, you are eligible to receive a booster dose. You can receive the booster dose three months (84 days) after your last dose if you are 18 years of age and older or 6 months (168 days) after your last dose if you are 12 years of age and older. Please visit a COVID-19 vaccination clinic to receive your COVID-19 vaccine that is approved for use in Canada.

You are also eligible to receive a second booster if you meet the eligibility criteria which is recommended 5 months (140 days) after your first booster. For more information, see Who Can Receive their Fourth Dose?

I received one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine through a Federal program while in the province of Ontario (for example military, global affairs or embassy vaccination clinic). How do I ensure my vaccination is recorded in Ontario?

If you have received one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine through a Federal program while in the province of Ontario, (for example global affairs or embassy vaccination clinics) you may complete the Ontario COVID-19 Vaccine Form for Federal Programs.

Regular Force Canadian Armed Forces members do not require their vaccinations to be recorded in Ontario. The Canadian Armed Forces proof of vaccination is recognized as valid proof of vaccination in Ontario and no further action is required.

Do not use this form to submit medical exemption information.

What can I expect once I submit my proof of vaccination form?

You will receive an automatic confirmation email once you submit the Out-of-Province or Federal Documentation Form.

Once your submission is reviewed and approved by Ottawa Public Health you will receive an email with instructions on how to access your provincial vaccine receipt.

If your submission is not approved, you will receive an email from Ottawa Public Health with further instructions to re-submit with corrections and/or omissions.

I’m visiting Ontario, do I need to submit my proof of vaccination to be uploaded into the provincial system?

If you are visiting Ontario, please visit ontario.ca/covid19 for more information on what types of proof of vaccination you need.

If you are visiting from outside of Canada, please consult the Government of Canada's entry requirements.

The Out-of-province documentation form is to be completed by City of Ottawa residents only.

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Vaccine effectiveness

 What is the optimal interval between the first and second dose for 2-dose COVID-19 vaccines?

The optimal interval between doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is two months or eight weeks. This interval applies to two and three dose primary series.

Children aged six months to four years:

  • Pfizer BioNTech Comirnaty 3mcg dose is a 3-dose primary series. Each dose is given two months (56 days) apart.
  • Caregivers may choose, with informed consent to follow a shorter interval between the 1st and 2nd doses. The shorter interval is 21 days. The shortest interval between the second and third dose is 56 days. 

Children aged six months to under five years:

Moderna Spikevax 25 mcg dose:

  • NACI recommends at least eight weeks between the first and second dose. What we know is that a longer interval between doses can provide better protection overall.
  • In older age groups, longer vaccine intervals have shown to reduce the risk of myocarditis/pericarditis. (To note: in study participants six months to five years, no cases of myocarditis/pericarditis occurred)
  • Caregivers may choose, with informed consent, to follow a shorter interval between dose one and two. The shorter interval could be as early as 28 days after the first dose.

Children aged five to 11 years:

  • More data has become available that suggests that protection can be improved upon when the interval between the first and second dose are extended beyond the original manufacturer’s recommended interval (e.g., 21 days between first and second dose of a Comirnaty/Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine; 28 days between first and second doses of a Moderna Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 6-11).
  • As per NACI, an eight week interval helps balance optimal protection while simultaneously minimizing the time at risk of infection due to having protection from only one dose. There is emerging safety data that suggest that a longer interval between dose one and two may reduce the risk of myocarditis/pericarditis after the second dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • Individuals may choose to speak with their primary care provider about what interval is best for them considering the local transmission of COVID-19 and the degree of individual risk of exposure.
  • The authorized interval may still be used with informed parental consent.
    • You can get your child’s second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech 10 mcg as early as 21 days after their first by providing informed consent at one of our clinics or by calling the province at 1-833-943-3900.
    • You can get your child’s second dose of a Moderna Spikevax vaccine as early as 28 days after their first by providing informed consent at one of our clinics and upon request
  • Interruption of a vaccine series resulting in a greater interval between doses than recommended does not require re-starting the series.

References 

National Advisory Committee on Immunization (2022). Recommendations on the use of Moderna Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine in children 6 months to 5 years of age 

National Advisory Committee on Immunization (2021). Recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccines. 

Ministry of Health (2022). COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance, Version 3.1

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Pregnancy and COVID-19 Vaccines

I am pregnant. Should I get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccination (including booster dose) is strongly recommended during pregnancy. Getting vaccinated, as soon as possible, is the safest choice to protect yourself and your baby from the known risks of COVID-19 infection.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends you get a complete series with an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine if you're pregnant or breastfeeding. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine can prevent serious illness, hospitalization, and complications from COVID-19 infection.

In Ontario, all pregnant individuals are eligible and prioritized to be vaccinated as soon as possible, at any stage of pregnancy. The same applies to receiving a booster dose three months after their last dose.

What are the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination for you and your baby?

COVID-19 vaccines are very effective in protecting you from severe illness.

  • Getting the vaccine can help prevent complications or bad outcomes for parent and baby. Like everyone else, most pregnant people have mild COVID-19. However, pregnant people are at an increased risk of severe illness requiring hospital care and admission to the intensive care unit compared to those who are not pregnant.
  • Giving birth too early in pregnancy (preterm birth), having a caesarean delivery and having a baby admitted into a neonatal intensive care unit is more common in pregnant people with severe COVID-19.

There is growing evidence about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy.

  • The mRNA vaccines are effective at reducing the risk of a COVID-19 vaccine infection caused by any variant of the virus (e.g. Omicron) similarly in both pregnant and non-pregnant people. These vaccines do not contain live virus.
  • Booster doses decrease the chance of having a symptomatic COVID-19 infection, the severity of the COVID-19 illness and the chance of being hospitalized for COVID-19.
  • Antibodies created by the COVID-19 vaccine can offer protection to your baby and are passed through the placenta and/or in your breastmilk.

The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses are safe in pregnancy.

  • Several studies with large numbers of pregnant people have shown that vaccination immediately before and/or during any time in pregnancy has no impact on pregnancy outcomes.
    • No increased risk of miscarriage, preterm birth, stillbirth, growth restriction, high blood pressure during pregnancy, medical complications of pregnancy or death.
What are the risks of getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

Pregnant and breastfeeding individuals who receive the mRNA (Comirnaty/Pfizer-BioNtech or Moderna) vaccines experience the same side effects of vaccination as non-pregnant individuals.

Evidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy, has been growing from real-world use. The data shows that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. No safety concerns were identified in a study of more than 35,000 pregnant people who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine within 30 days of conception.

The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines:

  • Do not contain any live virus.
  • Do not contain any mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde, or substances harmful to you and/or your baby.
  • Do not contain any human and/or animal blood or by-product(s).
  • Cannot be measures in your bloodstream; thus, the baby is not exposed to the vaccine.

Anyone getting the vaccine may have some side effects.

  • Common side effects after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine are pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, and muscle pain. This is caused by the immune system’s normal response to the vaccine. These side effects are generally not serious and go away on their own.
  • In more than 35,000 pregnant and/or breastfeeding people who were monitored at the time of COVID-19 vaccination, less than 10% of pregnant people experience a fever.
    • Talk to your doctor or midwife if you develop a fever, or any side effects that worry you or that last more than 3 days, so they can give you advice. A high fever that lasts too long during the first three months of pregnancy (first trimester) may increase the risk of miscarriage or abnormalities to the baby.
  • As with any vaccine, allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, are rare but can occur. Talk to your health care provider if you have allergies to medications.
What if I get pregnant after getting the vaccine?

If you are pregnant or become pregnant soon after getting the first or second dose of the vaccine, you should complete the full series and receive your booster dose.

Several studies show that prior to and in the first trimester, there is no impact of COVID-19 vaccination on the risk of miscarriage or any adverse pregnancy outcome.

What if I am planning a pregnancy?

There is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines have any effect on your fertility or chances of becoming pregnant. Fertility treatment is not a medical reason that prevents you from getting vaccinated. 

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Travelling

Information for travel outside of Canada

Information for travel outside of Canada 

Returning from International Travel? 

All travelers entering Canada must follow federal quarantine requirements including isolation and testing, unless exempt. Refer to the Federal Quarantine Requirements to determine if you are required to isolate. 

Travelling Outside of Canada? 

Ottawa Public Health currently does not provide clearance letters for travel. Please contact your primary care provider or visit a travel clinic. 

Ottawa Public Health does not provide recommendations regarding international travel. Please look into the guidelines of the country you are travelling to. 

For previous PCR test results, contact the clinic or testing centre in which you received testing or access the Province of Ontario’s website. Visit our testing page for more information on accessing your test result. 

Looking for pre-travel clearance? Visit our testing page for more information. 

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Safety

Can I get both my COVID-19 vaccine and flu vaccine?

This year with the presence of COVID-19 circulating in the community, it is especially important to get the flu vaccine to reduce the potential risk of having COVID-19 and influenza at the same time.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends that COVID-19 vaccines may be given at the same time as, or before or after other vaccines for anyone five years of age and older. This includes live, non-live, adjuvanted, and non-adjuvanted vaccines. There are no specific safety concerns when routine vaccines are given at the same time or within days of each other. Please note that there could be stronger, temporary side effects when a COVID-19 vaccine and another vaccine are given at the same time or within days of each other.

Administration of flu vaccine with other vaccines.

I am concerned about reports of myocarditis or pericarditis following the COVID-19 vaccine. What information is there?

Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle. Pericarditis is an inflammation of the lining around the heart. Symptoms can include: 

  • chest pain 

  • shortness of breath 

  • heart palpitations (fluttering or pounding of the heart) 

There have been reports of myocarditis and/or pericarditis after immunization with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in Canada and internationally. Cases of myocarditis and/or pericarditis occur more often in people under 30 years of age, more often in males than in females, and more often after a second dose of an mRNA vaccine than after a first or booster dose. The risk of myocarditis/ pericarditis is rare, and events usually occur within a week after vaccination and mostly have been mild with a quick recovery.  

According to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI):

For people aged 5 to 29 years receiving an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine primary series: 

  • The use of Comirnaty/Pfizer-BioNtech is preferred to Moderna Spikevax to start or continue the mRNA primary vaccine series. 

  • The second dose of mRNA vaccine should be provided eight weeks after the first dose as a longer interval between doses is associated with higher vaccine effectiveness and potentially lower risk of myocarditis/pericarditis. 

NACI further states that the known risks of COVID-19 illness (including complications like myocarditis/pericarditis) outweigh the potential harms of having an adverse reaction following mRNA vaccination, including the rare risk of myocarditis or pericarditis which despite hospitalization, is relatively mild and resolves quickly in most individuals. 

People aged 30 years or older can receive either mRNA vaccines (Comirnaty/Pfizer-BioNtech or Moderna) to start or continue the mRNA vaccine primary series given that this age group has a lower risk of vaccine-associated myocarditis/pericarditis. People 18 years of age and older can receive a booster dose with any available mRNA COVID-19 vaccine as to date, there has not been a difference between Pfizer and Moderna in terms of the risk of myocarditis and/or pericarditis following booster doses.

The majority of reported cases have been mild with individuals recovering quickly, normally with anti-inflammatory medication. 

Get medical attention immediately if you develop any of the following symptoms: 

  • chest pain 

  • shortness of breath 

  • feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart 

Report any adverse events after immunization to your healthcare provider. 

For more information, please visit the Third (booster) dose Frequently Asked Questions.

Can getting a COVID-19 vaccine affect menstruation or fertility?

It is not clear if the COVID-19 vaccine can affect your periods. But getting sick with COVID-19 can affect your periods. Studies looking at whether there is a link between menstrual cycles and the COVID-19 vaccine are underway. As per the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, if COVID-19 vaccines do affect the menstrual cycle, it would be expected to affect only one to two cycles. Getting sick can affect your periods and severe illnesses like COVID-19 can affect your cycle for much longer. 

Fertility, the ability to get pregnant, is not affected by vaccines. During the years that someone could get pregnant, precaution should be taken with certain live virus vaccines. This is because of theoretical risk to the fetus, not because fertility could be affected. An example of a live virus vaccine is the measles vaccine. 

The COVID-19 vaccines in use are not live virus vaccines. There is no biological reason to believe that the current COVID-19 vaccines would impact someone’s fertility. The U.S. has safety data of over 35,000 pregnant women who received COVID-19 vaccine. This data has not identified any safety concerns with getting an mRNA vaccine within 30 days of conception. NACI has recommended that you do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination with an mRNA vaccine. An individual may receive all doses for which they are eligible during the course of a pregnancy.

Male fertility: millions of men worldwide have received the COVID-19 vaccines. There is no evidence to date that shows that getting a COVID-19 vaccine could lead to fertility loss. We do know that all vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccines, can cause a brief fever in some people. Significant fever from any cause (e.g., if you get the flu) may have a temporary impact on sperm count and quality. But, this effect is only temporary. Some studies have shown that if you get COVID-19, it may affect the quality of your sperm. It is unclear how long this effect lasts.  

I am concerned about reports of Bell’s Palsy following the COVID-19 vaccine. What information is there?

Very rare reports of Bell’s Palsy (typically temporary weakness or paralysis on one side of the face) have been reported in Canada and internationally after vaccination with the Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNtech) and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. 

Bell’s Palsy is an episode of facial muscle weakness or paralysis that comes on quickly. Symptoms are usually temporary and improve after a few weeks. It is thought to be the result of swelling and inflammation of the nerve that controls muscles on one side of your face.  

Get medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms after vaccination: 

  • uncoordinated movement of the muscles that control facial expressions, such as smiling, squinting, blinking or closing the eyelid 
  • loss of feeling in the face 
  • headache 
  • eyes watering
  • drooling 
  • loss of taste on the front two-thirds of the tongue 
  • very sensitive to sound in one ear 
  • unable to close an eye on one side of the face 

Report any adverse events after immunization to your healthcare professional. 

Health Canada reassures Canadians that COVID-19 vaccines continue to be safe and effective at protecting them against COVID-19.  The benefits of COVID-19 vaccines continue to outweigh any potential risks, as scientific evidence shows that they reduce deaths and hospitalizations due to COVID-19. 

How was Health Canada able to approve the COVID-19 vaccine so quickly – did they lower their safety standard for vaccines?

The reason the COVID-19 vaccine was approved quickly is not because safety standards have changed, it’s because Health Canada shortened the administrative and organizational process of vaccine authorization. The safety requirements in clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine were just as strict as the regular process for any other vaccine.

Can people who have already tested positive for COVID-19 get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. According to the COVID-19 vaccine: Canadian Immunization Guide - Canada.ca those who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 should still be vaccinated and people do not need COVID-19 testing prior to vaccination.

For individuals six months of age and older with a previous COVID-19 infection, it is suggested that they can receive the vaccine eight weeks after symptoms began, or after positive test result (if no symptoms). 

This interval applies to an infection before a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, as well an infection that may occur between doses. If someone experiences a COVID-19 infection before their second dose, they should wait eight weeks after symptoms began, or after the positive rest result (if no symptoms).

New evidence shows that a longer interval between a COVID-19 infection and vaccination is associated with improved antibody responses to COVID-19 vaccines. 

There is no information that suggests that antibodies from a recent COVID-19 infection would interfere with vaccine efficacy.  

Vaccination continues to be very important, as people who have had previous COVID-19 infections may remain at risk for Omicron infection. The risk of reinfection with Omicron is higher than risk of reinfection with previous variants.

Can I still get a vaccine at a clinic if I have a history of fainting when getting a needle?

Yes. Please let your immunizer at the clinic know that you have a history of fainting during or after getting a vaccine. You will be accommodated by being given your vaccine lying down on a mat. There is an area of the clinic that Is screened off for privacy.

Fainting after a vaccine is not an adverse reaction and can happen to people for different reasons including stress or anxiety.

Please note: the FAQ above refers to fainting only, not a more a severe allergic reaction, such as anaphylaxis. Please be sure to tell your immunization provider if have a history or fainting or a history of severe allergic reactions following vaccination.

What do I do if I or someone I support has a needle phobia or fear but would still like to get a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic?

If you or someone you are supporting has a needle fear, phobia or anxiety, community clinic staff can support. 

To accommodate individuals with severe needle phobia, please fill out the COVID-19 Vaccine accessibility assessment form

  1. A clinic nurse or OPH representatives will call the client and/or their contact person to introduce themselves The clinic nurse will explain the vaccination process step-by-step - from the time they enter the clinic to when they leave 

  2. The nurse can offer a private room or isolated space for the vaccination. If necessary, we can also arrange for a place for the client to lie down during the vaccination. Also, an accompanying family member/friend and/or things like stuffed animals are allowed throughout the appointment. 
  3. Lastly, the nurse will ask the client/their contact if there are specific steps we might take which could help with the client’s anxiety
  4. Accommodation requests can be made by completing the COVID-19 Vaccine accessibility assessment form

Some resources that might be helpful include: 

Is it possible to experience post-COVID-19 (also known as long COVID) health conditions? 

You never know how COVID-19 will affect your health after the acute illness has passed. Most people with COVID-19 get better in a few weeks. Some take longer to recover or have problems during recovery. 

Anyone can experience post-COVID-19 health conditions (also referred to as long COVID, long-haul COVID, post-acute COVID-19, long-term effects of COVID, or chronic COVID). This includes people who did not have symptoms while they had COVID-19. Every person is different. 

Preventing post-COVID conditions / ‘long-COVID’:  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best way to prevent post-COVID conditions is to protect yourself and others from being infected. For those who are eligible, getting vaccinated against COVID-19 can help prevent infection and protect against severe illness. The CDC also states that research shows those who are vaccinated and become infected with COVID-19 are less likely to report post-COVID conditions compared to those who are not vaccinated.

Symptoms of post-COVID-19 health conditions can be new or ongoing and last weeks or months following a COVID-19 infection. Some of these symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”)
  • Cough
  • Chest or stomach pain
  • Headache 

Post-COVID-19 health conditions appear to be less common in children and adolescents. Symptoms in children and adolescents are similar to those experienced by adults. 

The causes and treatments for each person who has longer-term health problems will be different. The long-term effects of COVID-19 infection are still being studied. Have a discussion with your health care provider about your personal situation if you are having problems during your recovery. 

For more information on post-COVID-19 health conditions, please visit:

How can I reduce the risks of COVID-19 transmission in indoor spaces?

Exhaled breath, whether from breathing, speaking, singing, shouting, etc., contains a variety of sizes of particles - respiratory droplets or aerosols - some of which are big enough that they fall quickly to the ground. Some of which are small enough that they can stay in the air for various lengths of time.

COVID-19 is primarily transmitted through direct contact into the mouth, nose, or eyes with the exhaled respiratory droplets or aerosols which carry the virus from an infected person. Ventilation indoors with fresh air provides an important additional layer of protection. Ventilation with fresh air should be improved whenever possible, e.g., bringing in more fresh air through a properly maintained ventilation system or by opening windows and doors. Reducing the risk of transmission while indoors by wearing a mask or face covering and ensuring a distance of two metres (six feet) from those outside your household, continue to be important basics.

Poor ventilation in indoor spaces is linked to increased transmission of respiratory infections, particularly if the space is small. Transmission of COVID-19 has been linked with enclosed spaces, including from people who are infected but are not showing any symptoms of illness.

Even when keeping a distance of two or more metres, people should wear a mask if spending time in an enclosed airspace with people not from their household. The longer you are exposed to someone else in an enclosed space, the higher your chances are of breathing in that person’s exhaled respiratory droplets. The safest approach is to wear a mask at all times when you are in the same room with someone not from your household.

 How do heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems affect the transmission of COVID-19?

A well-maintained HVAC system may help reduce transmission of COVID-19 by exchanging indoor air, into which people have exhaled, with fresh outdoor air and by filtering recirculated air.     

Because of mechanical and structural complexity and cost, improved ventilation may need to be a longer-term goal, though adjustments to maximize air exchanges and filtration efficiency within the specifications of the existing HVAC system should be made as soon as possible.     

If possible, consult an HVAC professional to determine:    

  • If your HVAC system is operating properly    

  • If it can be adjusted to increase air exchange    

  • If it is using the most effective type of filters compatible with its system.    

  • If it is suitable for the size of your space and its intended use    

There are also quicker added interventions, such as portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration units but purchase and operating costs must be considered. Note, however, that within a single room, the air blown around by air conditioners or fans may increase the distance over which a virus can be transmitted. To help prevent blowing air from areas in which there may be virus into other areas and to reduce the concentration of virus particles in these areas:    

  • Minimize the use of air conditioners and fans blowing within the room (e.g., by using the lowest setting)  

  • Direct airflow away from surfaces and people (e.g., use a fan by aiming it to exhaust air out a window)  

  • Increase natural ventilation by opening windows if weather permits    

Please note that air conditioners and fans also require regular maintenance, such as:    

  • Surface cleaning, including the blades    

  • Removal of any moisture or water that has collected in portable air conditioners    

  • Filter changes    

  • Other maintenance activities found in manufacturers’ instructions    

Please note: Ventilation must never be considered the main or only means of risk reduction: masking, distancing, barriers, and hand hygiene have more immediate and reliable results.  

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Allergies, side effects and medical conditions

Can people with severe allergies to a component of the COVID-19 vaccine receive the vaccine?

As per the Ministry of Health COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance, people with known allergies to components of the COVID-19 vaccine may speak with a physician or nurse practitioner to determine whether and how they should receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The physician or nurse practitioner can help create a vaccination care plan to ensure you receive the vaccine safely.

If you have a known severe allergic reaction to a component in one of either the Moderna Spikevax or Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNtech) vaccines and can’t interchange your subsequent dose, you will be able to receive the appropriate vaccine at one of our clinics.

Visit the Health Canada web page for a list of ingredients Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNtech)ModernaAstraZeneca and Janssen COVID-19 vaccines.

What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines?

American Sign Language - What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines?

The most frequent side effects are injection site pain, fatigue and headache. Some people who got the vaccine in trials also reported muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever. These symptoms were usually mild or moderate and went away within a few days. These are all expected reactions to vaccines because of the immune response. They are very similar to those reported following the seasonal influenza vaccination.

You can find more information on the side effects for each vaccine here: Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNtech)ModernaAstraZeneca or Janssen.

This document is not in an accessible format

If a person develops an adverse reaction, what should be done?

No serious safety concerns have been causally linked to COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada.

If someone experiences an adverse event following immunization, they should report it to a healthcare professional (e.g., family doctor).

An adverse event following immunization (AEFI) is an unwanted or unexpected health effect that happens after someone receives a vaccine, which may or may not be caused by the vaccine.

Public health surveillance of AEFIs is important for timely detection of rare vaccine safety issues. For more information visit the OPH page on AEFI reporting.

Expected side effects for each vaccine product are listed on the vaccine product monograph; common side effects could be found under ‘Side effects and risks’.

Healthcare professionals should complete the Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) Form and send it to the local public health unit.

New Online Reporting Option for AEFIs

We are pleased to announce an online portal for submitting AEFI reporting securely in PDF format: https://secureforms.ottawapublichealth.ca/vaccines/AEFI-Submission-EN

This provides another option, in addition to reporting by fax to: 613-580-9660

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Precautions

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I recently got another vaccine or if I am due for another vaccine?

NACI recommends that COVID-19 vaccines may be given at the same time as, or before or after other vaccines for anyone 5 years of age or older. This includes live, non-live, adjuvanted, and non-adjuvanted vaccines. There are no specific safety concerns when routine vaccines are given at the same time or within days of each other. Please note that there could be stronger, temporary side effects when a COVID-19 vaccine and another vaccine are given at the same time or within days of each other.

What should I consider before receiving the vaccine? 

  • Wait to get vaccinated if you have a fever or are sick with COVID-19 symptoms. This will help avoid confusing symptoms from other illnesses with vaccine-related adverse events. It also helps to decrease COVID-19 transmission at an immunization clinic
  • Are you on long-term anticoagulation therapy? National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommendations support that most people can be safely immunized without stopping their anticoagulation (blood thinner) therapy
  • If you have a bleeding disorder, NACI recommends that you make sure it is well managed before immunization
  • Do you have allergies? The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) recommends that people with a history of serious allergies speak to their healthcare provider before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (CSACI) has a page of COVID-19 Vaccines FAQs which may be helpful (only English version available).
  • As an additional reference, see the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 Vaccines for People with Allergies (only English version available).

Can I get vaccinated if I am immunocompromised and or have an autoimmune condition?

NACI recommends that a complete COVID-19 vaccine series with an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to those in the approved age group. This includes those who are immunosuppressed due to illness or treatment or who have an autoimmune condition. 

If an mRNA vaccine is contraindicated, another approved COVID-19 vaccine should be offered. The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada are the Moderna Spikevax and Pfizer-BioNtech and Comirnaty vaccines.  

Can the medications I take interfere with the effectiveness of the vaccines? Can they cause other side effects after vaccination?

Most medications and medical conditions are not expected to interfere with the effectiveness of the vaccines.

You should talk to your health care provider if you:

  • have an autoimmune condition;
  • are receiving immunosuppressing therapies; and
  • have other specific medical conditions.

Your health care provider may have recommendations about the timing of your COVID-19 vaccine in relation to:

  • other vaccines, or
  • treatment for autoimmune or immunocompromising conditions.

Health care providers can find more information here:

The NACI recommendations are updated as new information becomes available. See the NACI guidance for additional information on drug interactions and blood products, human immunoglobin and timing of immunization.

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Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine

What is the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine?
The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 Vaccine, also sometimes called, “the J&J Vaccine”, is a single dose, viral vector-based vaccine. This type of vaccine takes another virus, called an adenovirus that is weakened so it cannot grow; it teaches your body how to fight against the COVID-19 virus. The vaccine teaches your immune system to recognize and fight against the COVID-19 virus, which helps to prevent illness if you come into contact with the virus.
 How can I get Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine?

You cannot book through the provincial portal. Booking will be through your local public health unit. Use this online form to register for a Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine.

 What is the difference between a viral vector and mRNA vaccine?

Viral vector-based vaccines use a virus, which has been modified to be harmless, as a delivery system to build your immunity. When injected into the body, these COVID-19 vaccines produce a surface protein from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, specifically the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. The spike protein does not make you sick -- it helps your body develop a strong immune response without exposing you to the virus that causes COVID-19.

Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines provide instructions to the cells in our bodies to make a viral protein from the coronavirus called a “spike protein”. The mRNA provides instructions that allows the cell to make the spike protein, and then the immune system is activated to recognize the spike protein as being different from the body’s own proteins which initiates an immune response. The mRNA is then degraded by normal cellular mechanisms and the spike proteins are destroyed by the immune system. mRNA vaccines are just one of the different types of vaccines currently used to prevent COVID-19 disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. COVID-19 vaccination along with public health measures will offer the best protection from COVID-19.

 Efficacy of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19
Clinical trials showed that beginning two weeks after the single dose, the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine was 66% effective in protecting trial participants against COVID-19. After 28 days of a single dose, it was found to have an efficacy 85.4% against severe/critical disease.
 Eligibility of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19

The mRNA vaccines remain the recommended vaccines to offer to eligible individuals. Those 18 years of age or older can receive the Janssen as their COVID-19 vaccine if they meet any of the following criteria:

  • Have not had any doses of a COVID-19 Vaccine, because of a known allergy to one or more of the components of a mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine.
  • Have not received any COVID-19 vaccine and declines an mRNA vaccine (i.e., is looking for an alternative to the mRNA vaccine).
  • Have had a serious Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) after a dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine and have been advised by an appropriate Physician or Nurse Practitioner to receive a non mRNA COVID-19 vaccine for future doses.

Please note that individuals who received AstraZeneca as their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and do not have a contraindication to receiving an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine are not eligible to receive the Janssen vaccine and should receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

 Are there any contraindications or special precautions for the viral vector COVID-19 vaccines?
The Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is contraindicated in individuals:
  • Who are younger than 18 years of age
  • Who have experienced major venous and/or arterial thrombosis with thrombocytopenia following vaccination with any vaccine
  • Who have a history of capillary leak syndrome (CLS)
  • Who have experienced a previous cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) with thrombocytopenia
  • Who have experienced heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT)
  • Actively receiving monoclonal antibody therapy OR convalescent plasma therapy for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19
    • Vaccine should not be administered while actively receiving therapy
Allergies
Individuals who have had a severe, immediate (≤ 4h following vaccination) allergic reaction or anaphylaxis to a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of its components or its container should seek evaluation by an allergist/immunologist. Such an assessment is required to assess the method for possible administration of a COVID-19 vaccine.
 Common side effects of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Muscle Pain
  • Pain at injection site
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
 If I am feeling unwell after my vaccine, when should I call my health care provider?
If you experience a high fever (over 40°C or 104°F), or side effects that are worrying you or do not seem to be going away after a few days, contact your health care provider or seek medical attention. Go to the nearest emergency department or call 911 if you have hives, swelling of the face, throat or mouth, trouble breathing within four hours following your vaccine. Also seek medical attention if you experience altered levels of consciousness/serious drowsiness, seizures/convulsions, and “pins and needles”/numbness.

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