Individuals who are 12 years of age or older at the time of vaccination or any time in 2021, are eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Individuals who are 18 years of age or older at the time of vaccination are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine MODERNA.
This Questions and Answers document provides information to patients on the availability of COVID-19 Vaccine Immunization through Ontario pharmacies.
Effective March 10, 2021, the Government of Ontario is publicly funding COVID-19 vaccines for immunization at participating pharmacies in Ontario.
1. Who can get a COVID-19 vaccine at a pharmacy?
Individuals in Ontario may be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine at a pharmacy. Eligibility criteria is expected to change as COVID-19 vaccine supply becomes available.
Please refer to the ministry website for the most recent Executive Officer Notice entitled “Administration of the Publicly Funded COVID-19 Vaccines in Ontario Pharmacies – Eligibility”.
2. How do I know if I belong to a priority group targeted for COVID-19 vaccination?
Priority populations are identified based on current public health guidelines and considerations and may change as the pandemic situation evolves. Please contact your local public health unit and visit the ministry’s website COVID-19 vaccines for Ontario | COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Ontario for up-to-date information on who is eligible.
Please also access the Ontario Government website for updates to the provincial rollout and population priority groups.
3. Which pharmacy can I get a COVID-19 vaccine at?
You can locate a participating pharmacy at this link. Please call ahead to the pharmacy to book an appointment or to find out their procedures.
When you go to the pharmacy, a valid Ontario health card number is required. However, if you do not have an Ontario health card number you may still receive a publicly funded COVID-19 vaccine using an alternate identification and providing your contact information to the pharmacy.
Other forms of patient identification may include:
• Birth Certificate
• First Nations ID
• MRN (Medical Record Number)
• Out of Province ID
• Driver’s Licence
4. Which COVID-19 vaccine is being offered at pharmacies?
For the publicly funded COVID-19 vaccine immunization, pharmacists will be providing the COVID-19 vaccine that is available according to the provincial vaccine rollout plan.
5. Are pharmacists prepared to provide COVID-19 vaccines? What quality standards will be followed?
Pharmacists, registered pharmacy students, interns and pharmacy technicians are authorized to administer the COVID-19 vaccine provided they have the appropriate injection training, have registered this training with the Ontario College of Pharmacists (OCP), and are working at a pharmacy that has entered into an agreement with the Ministry of Health.
6. What happens before and after the vaccination at the pharmacy?
The pharmacist will provide details on the process before the COVID-19 vaccine immunization begins, as well as answer any other questions you may have.
Patients, or their substitute decision-makers, will be required to provide consent for the COVID-19 vaccine administration and related data collection. Pharmacy staff will provide you with a written or electronic receipt that you received the vaccine, including instructions for scheduling a second dose, if applicable.
Individuals must keep their receipt for their vaccination in a safe place and bring it to their appointment for the second dose of the vaccine.
Patients are asked to wait for 15 minutes after receiving their vaccine to ensure they are feeling well. Longer waiting times of 30 minutes may be recommended if there is a concern about a possible vaccine allergy.
Individuals are advised to continue to follow the recommendation of public health officials to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which include wearing a mask, staying at least 2 meters from others and limiting/avoiding contact with others outside their household.
7. What happens after receiving the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?
After the first dose, individuals are strongly advised to return to the same pharmacy location for their second dose by making an appointment or following the instructions provided by their pharmacist to ensure they receive the second dose at the right time.
• In the case of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, individuals may be directed to return up to 4 months after receiving the first dose.
8. Where can I get more information?
For more information related to COVID-19 and the service of vaccine immunization, talk to your health care provider or visit the following webpages:
COVID-19 vaccines for Ontario: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/covid-19-vaccines-ontario
COVID-19 vaccine information: https://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/diseases-and-conditions/infectious-diseases/respiratory-diseases/novel-coronavirus/vaccines
COVID-19 Resources: www.publichealthontario.ca/en/diseases-and-conditions/infectious-diseases/respiratory-diseases/novel-coronavirus/public-resources
The current approved vaccines in Canada are safe and strongly effective at preventing you from getting COVID-19 14 days after having received the appropriate and recommended amount of doses.
It is important to note that since the vaccine does not prevent the virus from entering your body and that no vaccine is 100% effective, there is still a small risk of catching COVID-19.
However, getting vaccinated will significantly help prevent you from developing moderate to severe symptoms (even if you catch COVID-19), and therefore lower your risk of serious complications and hospitalization. This is especially important to those who present a higher risk of developing complications to COVID-19, for example immunocompromised people.
It is also important to continue practicing proper safety measures until further notice as it is currently unknown whether you can carry and transmit the virus despite having been vaccinated.
COVID-19 is incredibly easy to spread from person to person. Therefore, if you get sick, you could spread it to friends, family and others around you.
Also, COVID-19 affects everyone differently, so even if you experience little to no symptoms, those around you can develop other more serious symptoms. It is strongly recommended to get vaccinated in order to prevent the spread of the virus and ensure the safety of those around you.
The best way to achieve herd immunity is with large scale COVID-19 vaccination and continuing to practice recommended social safety measures.
What is herd immunity? Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community (the herd) becomes immune to an infectious disease, providing indirect protection by making the spread of the disease from person to person unlikely, even to those who are not immune to the disease.
However, there are problems with relying on community infection (without vaccination) to create herd immunity with regards to the COVID-19 virus. The main reason is that it is not yet clear whether having been infected with COVID-19 makes a person immune to future infections. If it does not create immunity, herd immunity will not work.
Also, medical experts do not yet know what percentage of a community would need to get infected to achieve herd immunity. Current data shows that a person is relatively immune to the virus 90 days after infection, however there is currently insufficient data that can determine immunity beyond that. Even if we assume that the infection creates long-lasting immunity, a large number of the population would have to become infected in order to reach the herd immunity threshold, which can be anywhere from 50-90% depending on the specific infection. This amount of infection could lead to serious and potentially long-term complications and deaths.
And so, if many people become sick at once, the healthcare system could easily become overwhelmed, therefore lowering life-depending resources.
Wearing masks and social distancing help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures are currently not enough.
Vaccines will work with your immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed and prevent serious illness. The combination of getting vaccinated and following the recommended safety guidelines to protect yourself and others will undoubtedly offer the best protection from COVID-19.
Contact your pharmacist if you have any other questions, and to schedule an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine.