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COVID-19 Vaccines

The WECHU is committed to providing credible information and timely communication on vaccines and vaccination locations.

As of, September 22, 2021 Ontario requires Vaccine Verification to access select public settings.

Effective January 4, 2022, Ontario is requiring the use of the enhanced vaccine certificate with QR code and the Verify Ontario app in settings where proof of vaccination is required.

If you received your COVID-19 vaccine:

In Ontario:

Visit the COVID-19 Vaccination Portal to download your enhanced vaccine certificate.

In Ontario but do not have a health card OR need to update health card information:

Book an appointment online for further assistance.

Outside of Ontario but have already submitted out of province documentation:

Visit the COVID-19 Vaccination Portal to download your enhanced vaccine certificate. If you cannot access your certificate, please note that your documents may take some time to be processed. In the meantime, continue to use your out of province documentation as proof.

Outside of Ontario and need to submit your documentation:

Complete the Out of Province Registration.

For support, call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre:
1-833-943-3900.

Have a vaccine-related question?

Call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre to speak to an experienced agent or health specialist in more than 300 languages at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY: 1-866-797-0007).

Looking for one-to-one consultation, judgement-free conversation, or facts to help you make an informed decision? 

Book a VaxFacts appointment with Scarborough Health to connect with qualified doctors or register by phone by calling 416-438-2911 ext. 5738. You do not need an OHIP card to participate. Offers 200 languages with interpretation services.

You can also call the SickKids COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service to book a phone appointment with a paediatric Registered Nurse. Over the phone interpretation is available for free in many languages. Appointments can be made online or by calling 437-881-3505


COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Currently Approved Vaccines

mRNA Vaccines:

Two doses of an mRNA vaccine are required

Pfizer-BioNTech
  • Approved for age 5 and older
Moderna
  • Approved for age 12 and older

The Ontario Ministry of Health has issued a preferential recommendation for the use of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for individuals younger than 30 years of age. View Vaccination Recommendations for Special Populations for more details.

Viral Vector Vaccines:

AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD & Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)
  • Individuals 18 and older
  • Janssen (Johnson & Johnson):: One dose series
  • AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD:

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is currently only available to individuals with contraindications to mRNA vaccines. If you received AstraZeneca as your first dose, you are eligible to receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine for your second dose. Learn more about if you received a first dose of AstraZeneca.


Before any vaccines are available in Ontario or Canada, they undergo large clinical trials to determine if they are safe and effective. Health Canada has maintained the same quality standards for review and approval of COVID-19 vaccines as were in place before the pandemic.

COVID-19 vaccines are free for anyone living in Ontario and strongly recommended to keep yourself and the community safe.

All four approved vaccines are effective at preventing severe, symptomatic infection with COVID-19. The more people who receive a vaccine, the more we will be able to reduce or prevent community spread. Developing immunity to COVID-19 may take up to 14 days; however, fully vaccinated individuals will still be required to follow public health measures, like wearing a mask and maintaining physical distancing from others.

It is very important that you complete the full vaccination series to protect yourself completely against COVID-19. You will have a significantly greater risk of contracting COVID-19 until you complete the full vaccination series. Most COVID-19 vaccines require two doses to complete the series (except the Janssen vaccine). The first dose of the vaccine trains your body to recognize the virus and the second dose prolongs the duration of protection.

Visit the Health Canada website to learn all about the COVID-19 vaccines and view the facts about COVID-19 vaccines.


How Do the Vaccines Work?

Vaccines work by teaching your immune system how to produce antibodies that prevents you from becoming sick if you are exposed to the virus in the future. The vaccine provides your body with something that looks like the virus so that your immune system can learn to identify the virus and produce specific antibodies to fight the virus, without exposing you to the virus that causes COVID-19. All four of the vaccines are administered by injection as a needle in the upper arm.

The mRNA vaccines use a method called messenger RNA (mRNA) which acts as a code that tells your cells how to make a piece of the outer lining of the virus, for a short period of time. This piece of the virus is enough for your immune system to learn how to recognize and be ready to fight off the virus, but it cannot make you sick.

The viral vector vaccines are slightly different in that they use a harmless non-replicating viral vector, which produces components of the outer lining of the virus. These will not cause COVID-19 infection, but it remains in the body long enough to build an immune response to the virus.


Ontario Ministry of Health


Public Health Ontario

In Ontario, an individual is considered fully vaccinated if they have received:

  • The full series of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by Health Canada*, or any combination of such vaccines,
  • One or two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada, followed by one dose of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine authorized by Health Canada, or
  • Three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada; and
  • They received their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days ago.

*The COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized by Health Canada are Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)

COVID-19 vaccines are being developed quickly, are they still safe?

Only vaccines that Health Canada determines to be safe and effective will be approved for use in Canada and Ontario. The progress on COVID-19 vaccines happened quickly for many reasons including:

  • Research on other strains of coronavirus before COVID-19 (e.g. SARS, MERS-CoV) 
  • Advances in science and technology
  • International collaboration among scientists, health professionals, researchers, industry and governments
  • Increased dedicated funding

As vaccines for COVID-19 are approved and administered, Health Canada will continue to oversee their safety through their vaccine monitoring system.

For more information on COVID-19 vaccines and ingredients, see the Ministry of Health COVID-19 Vaccine Information Sheet and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 Vaccine Information Sheet.

Learn what to expect when you get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Information for individuals with autoimmune conditions and immunocompromised individuals, as well as, individuals with allergies is available in the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccination Recommendations for Special Populations guidance document.


Recommendations for the Use of COVID-19 Vaccines

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) provides regularly updated recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccines, and information on efficacy and effectiveness, storage requirements, vaccine safety and adverse events following immunization, and more.

Individuals who have experienced major venous and/or arterial thrombosis (blood clot) with thrombocytopenia (low platelets) following vaccination with any vaccine, or who have experienced a previous cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) with thrombocytopenia or have experienced heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) cannot receive the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD COVID-19 Vaccine. For more information on the use of COVID-19 vaccines, please view the Ministry of Health COVID-19 Vaccine Information Sheet.

If you received a first dose of an mRNA vaccine, you can safely receive either of the mRNA vaccines as your second dose. If you received a first dose of AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD, you can safely receive AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD or an mRNA vaccine as your second dose.

Similar to other vaccines, some individuals can develop short-term and mild side effects after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Ongoing research is showing that serious side effects are extremely rare. Experiencing mild side effects, such as pain where the needle was given, tiredness, chills, headache, and muscle pain can be expected and indicates that the vaccine is working to produce protection or immunity.

The Ministry of Health's COVID-19 Vaccine Information Sheet describes possible side effects and next steps if you are experience side effects that are worrying you. For information about what you should expect after your COVID-19 vaccine, please review the Ministry of Health’s After Your COVID-19 Vaccine guidance.

For more information about the reported side effects or reactions following COVID-19 vaccinations, visit Health Canada’s website


Third Doses

Mixing COVID-19 vaccines is safe, effective, and enables Ontarians to benefit from the protection of a third dose.

Combining similar vaccines from different manufacturers in a series is not a new concept, and different vaccine brands have been safely and effectively used to complete vaccine series for other diseases like, influenza, hepatitis A and B, to name a few.

The interchangeability of mRNA third doses was approved by Health Canada & the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. It’s important that you get a third dose of any available mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, as soon as you’re eligible, to protect yourself from more transmissible COVID-19 variants like Omicron.

The FDA in the U.S. has also authorized the mixing and matching of COVID-19 vaccine brands (CDC COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots).

During clinical trials, both mRNA vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna) demonstrated similar safety profiles and side effects (NACI).

Those who received an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) for their first and second dose can safely receive either of the mRNA vaccines as their third dose.

Individuals who received two doses of the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD COVID-19 vaccine or one dose of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine can safely receive any of the two approved mRNA vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna) for their third dose.

Individuals who received an mRNA as one or both of their initial two doses, the third dose may be either of the two approved mRNA vaccines: Pfizer and Moderna.

Getting a third dose of either mRNA vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and the community against COVID-19 and the Omicron variant.

The best vaccine for your third dose is the one that is available first.

Both mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) provide strong protection against COVID-19 and its variants.

Both mRNA COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in Canada (Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna) have the same mechanism of action, have very similar side effect profiles, and are highly effective against COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death.

Both mRNA COVID-19 vaccines use the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus as the antigen. The spike protein encoded by either of the authorized mRNA vaccines is stabilized in the same manner, although other vaccine components like the lipid nanoparticle and the mRNA sequence may be different.

Both mRNA vaccines showed similar vaccine efficacy in the initial clinical trials against symptomatic COVID-19 disease following the second dose, 95% and 94% respectively for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna

Combining different COVID-19 vaccines that induce an immune response against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein will lead to a robust immune response.

Individuals are encouraged to speak to their healthcare provider for help understanding the options available to them so that they can make an informed decision on their vaccination.

The emergence of Omicron serves as a reminder of how quickly things continue to change during the pandemic.

Omicron is expected to become the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the near future and this emphasizes the importance of getting vaccinated with the third doses as soon as you’re eligible.

If you choose to wait to receive the same COVID-19 vaccine for your third dose as you received for your second dose, you will be missing out on the protection that the third dose provides.

Book your appointment for a third dose for any mRNA COVID-19 vaccine that is available and continue to check back at WEVAX.ca as new appointment times are added daily.

Ontario has made a preferential recommendation for use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for individual’s younger than 30 years of age (Ministry of Health COVID-19 Vaccine Administration).

In Windsor-Essex County, the age range for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is 12-29 (WECHU Media Statement: Notice on mRNA Vaccine Availability).

  • For those under the age of 30, based on approved usage and preferential dosing recommendations, the Pfizer vaccine will be administered.
  • For those 30 years of age and older, for which there is no preferential dose, the Moderna vaccine will be administered.

Due to the current availability of mRNA vaccines across the province, Windsor-Essex County residents may receive a third dose that was different from their first or second dose.

The National Advisory Council on Immunizations (NACI) recommends that when the same mRNA COVID-19 vaccine product is not readily available, another mRNA COVID-19 vaccine product recommended for use in that age group should be offered to complete the vaccine series or be used as a third/booster dose (Ministry of Health Q&A for Health Care Providers on Mixed (Heterologous) COVID-19 Vaccine Schedules).

Foundational vaccine principles indicate that similar vaccines, from different
manufacturers can be substituted when:

  • they are authorized for the same purpose;
  • for the same populations;
  • have similar schedules;
  • have similar or produce similar type(s) of antigens and are similar in terms of vaccine safety, immune responses and protection provided

People are advised to avoid all non-essential travel outside Canada, regardless of their vaccination status

Travellers are responsible for checking the requirements that exists on third doses for their country of destination. At this time, only two doses are required to be considered as a fully vaccinated traveller to Canada

To be considered as a fully vaccinated traveller to Canada, you must:

  • have received at least 2 doses of a vaccine accepted for travel, a mix of 2 accepted vaccines
  • or at least 1 dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine
  • have received your second dose at least 14 full days before you enter Canada

Pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding?
What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccines

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologist of Canada (SOGC), the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), and Ontario’s Vaccine Clinical Advisory Group recommend that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should be offered a complete series of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, if no medical concern exists. All pregnant individuals are authorized to be vaccinated as soon as possible, at any stage in pregnancy. Pregnant individuals are at an increased risk for severe outcomes of COVID-19 when compared with non-pregnant individuals, especially during the third trimester. Getting the vaccine can help prevent complications during pregnancy and lower the risk of severe outcomes for both pregnant person and their baby.

Real world data of pregnant individuals that have received the COVID-19 vaccine demonstrate that the benefits of receiving the vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination. Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding can pass on high levels of valuable antibodies against COVID-19 to their babies through vaccination and natural immunity.

Canadian and international research studies have found that 7-11% of pregnant women who are infected with COVID-19 have to be admitted to a hospital and 1-4% have to be admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU). COVID-19 vaccines do not cause infection in pregnant individuals or their babies because it does not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19.

Please discuss the following factors with a healthcare provider, ideally someone who is familiar with your pregnancy to help you make an informed decision:

  • Potential risks and consequences of getting infected with COVID-19 during pregnancy.
  • The risks and benefits of the vaccine.

Learn more from the Ministry of Health about COVID-19 vaccines for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning a pregnancy

For more information, please see the COVID-19 Vaccination Recommendations for Special Populations and the Vaccination in Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Decision-Making Tool.

COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for everyone 12 years of age or older, including individuals who are trying to get pregnant now or might become pregnant in the future, as well as their partners.

There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines causes a loss of fertility (in men or women), miscarriage, or birth defects. Discuss the vaccination with your healthcare provider to help you make an informed decision.

It is very important that you complete the full vaccination series to protect yourself completely against COVID-19.

Learn more from the Ministry of Health about COVID-19 vaccines for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning a pregnancy

For more information, please see the COVID-19 Vaccination Recommendations for Special Populations and the Vaccination in Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Decision-Making Tool.

The COVID-19 vaccination can be safely given to breastfeeding individuals. Recent data shows that mRNA from vaccines do not transfer into breast milk. COVID-19 antibodies produced by the breastfeeding individual have been shown to transfer through the milk and provide protection to the infant. Breastfeeding individuals are advised to be vaccinated as soon as possible if no contraindications exist. Discuss the vaccination with your healthcare provider to help you make an informed decision.

COVID-19 vaccines do not cause infection in breastfeeding individuals or their babies because it does not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19.

Learn more from the Ministry of Health about COVID-19 vaccines for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning a pregnancy

For more information, please see the COVID-19 Vaccination Recommendations for Special Populations and the Vaccination in Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Decision-Making Tool.

Healthy Families Hotline

Call WECHU’s hotline at 519-258-2146 ext. 1350 for any questions about pregnancy, breastfeeding, parenting and growth and development (birth to entry to school). Available Monday to Friday 8:30am – 4:30pm.

Ministry of Health

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning a pregnancy.

Healthy Babies Healthy Children Program (HBHC)

A free home visiting program for pregnant mothers and families with children from birth until entry to school that need extra support. During this time, HBHC will be offering its services virtually either through phone or videoconferencing. Please call the Healthy Families Hotline at 519-258-2146 ext. 1350 for more information.

Telehealth Ontario

Provides free and confidential health advice and breastfeeding support available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 1-866-797-0000.

OMama

OMama is a website that connects women and families in Ontario to trusted pregnancy, birth and early parenting information.

Infant Risk Centre

Infant Risk Center is a US based website that provides information about medications while pregnant or breastfeeding.


Additional Information:

Public Health Agency of Canada: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pregnancy, Childbirth and Caring for Newborns: Advice for Mothers During COVID-19

World Health Organization: FAQs on Breastfeeding and COVID-19


COVID-19 Vaccine Resources


Dr. Dominick Shelton from Black Physicians’ Association of Ontario answers some common questions and concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine:


COVID-19 Vaccine Myths and Facts

Fact: No. None of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection. If your body develops an immune response to vaccination, which is the goal, you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.

Fact: No. Your menstrual cycle cannot be affected by being near someone who received a COVID-19 vaccine. Many things can affect menstrual cycles, including stress, changes in your schedule, problems with sleep, and changes in diet or exercise. Infections may also affect menstrual cycles.

Fact: None of the approved COVID-19 vaccines have porcine gelatin (a substance derived from pork products commonly used to stabilize vaccines) listed as a non-medical ingredient.

Fact: Both mRNA and viral vector COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way. Both types of COVID-19 vaccines deliver instructions to our cells to start building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19.  However, these instructions never enter the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept.  This means the instructions in the vaccines cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way. All COVID-19 vaccines work with the body's natural defense to safely develop immunity to the disease.

Fact: No this does not happen. Vaccine shedding is the term used to describe the release or discharge of any of the vaccine components in or outside of the body. Vaccine shedding can only occur when a vaccine contains a weakened version of the virus. None of the vaccines authorized for use contain a live virus. The mRNA and viral vector vaccines are the two types of currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines available.

Fact: You cannot get the COVID-19 virus from the COVID-19 vaccines. The vaccines do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19 and do not cause the disease they are designed to prevent.

Fact: People who have recovered from COVID-19 may contract the virus again and would still benefit from the protection of the vaccine. It is important to follow public health guidelines after you have recovered from COVID-19 to protect yourself from contracting the virus again.

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

Yes. While most individuals can receive COVID-19 vaccinations safely, some allergies, medical conditions, ongoing treatments, and/or other contraindications may warrant an exemption. A physician, specialist, or nurse practitioner may issue a medical exemption to COVID-19 vaccination if a patient has specific contraindications. Please visit the Ministry of Health Medical Exemptions to COVID-19 Vaccination document or talk to your health care provider for further details.

Yes. If you do not have an OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) card, you can still get a vaccine by presenting another form of a government issued-photo ID such as a driver’s license, passport, Status Card or other provincial health cards. You do not have to be a Canadian citizen to receive a vaccine if you are a current resident of Windsor-Essex and in an eligible group.

Guidance for special populations, including individuals with autoimmune conditions and immunocompromised persons, and individuals with allergies is available in the Vaccination Recommendations for Special Populations guidance document.

Please note:  The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) does not provide individual patient counselling on the suitability of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals should speak to their health care provider about any serious allergies or other health concerns they may have before receiving the vaccine.

Individuals who have been vaccinated will receive a paper receipt of vaccination and if they consent to receive information electronically, they can receive a digital receipt via email.

To download your vaccination receipts, visit https://covid19.ontariohealth.ca/.

Those who need support obtaining a copy of their vaccination receipt including those who do not have access to a computer or printer can call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900.

Updating personal information in the vaccine database:
The contact information you provided at your first dose appointment will be used to communicate with you about your second dose appointment if required. If you have since changed your contact information, please contact the agency who administered your first dose to request that your information be updated. This request may be completed on a case by case basis for essential changes only.

Individuals who are homebound or with mobility issues can request accessible transportation support by calling 2-1-1. This free helpline is available 24 hours a day and can offer referrals to local services available to help with transportation to a vaccination site. Learn more about available transportation/childcare/accessibility supports.

Yes. If you have already had COVID-19, have fully recovered from it, and are of authorized age to receive the vaccine, there are no limitations on receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

It is very important that those who have tested positive for COVID-19 not leave isolation to try to obtain a vaccine. Individuals must complete their isolation period, be symptom free, and meet current eligibility criteria before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, isolate yourself from others and complete the online self-assessment to determine your next steps.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you are required to continue self-isolating and follow guidance outlined on our website. The WECHU case management team will record this when you are followed up with as a positive case. Please inform your case manager of your vaccination history when you are contacted.

 

Based on recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccines from NACI, COVID-19 vaccines may be given at the same time as, or any time before or after, other vaccines, including live or non-live vaccines.

For the current distribution phase, daily doses administered, total doses administered, and total vaccinations completed, visit the Government of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccines for Ontario webpage.

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Last modified:
Thursday, January 13, 2022 - 12:11pm