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COVID-19 Vaccine

Safe and effective vaccines will help protect us against COVID-19 and are a vital tool in our response to this pandemic. However, until COVID-19 vaccines are widely available, and the majority of the population is vaccinated, it’s important that we continue to follow public health guidance.

 

Which vaccines have been approved?

Health Canada has approved the following COVID-19 vaccines:

National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) 

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) occassionally releases statements on COVID-19 vaccines. To read the most recent statements, visit: National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI): Statements and publications and expand "COVID-19" from the list of vaccines.


How do the COVID-19 vaccines work?

mRNA Vaccine

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are mRNA vaccines. This means they use mRNA to teach the body’s cells how to make a protein which will cause your body to have an immune response and make antibodies. These antibodies then help fight an infection if the virus, which causes COVID-19, later enters the body. These vaccines do not use a live virus – they cannot give you COVID-19. Learn more →

Viral Vector-Based Vaccines

The Oxford-AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines are viral vector-based vaccines. This means they use a harmless virus that doesn’t cause COVID-19 to act as a “vector.” When introduced to the body through the vaccine, this vector virus produces a protein that causes your body to have an immune response and make antibodies. These antibodies then help fight an infection if the virus, which causes COVID-19, later enters the body.


How are the COVID-19 vaccines given?

The COVID-19 vaccines are administered by an injection into your upper arm muscle.

Vaccine

Recommended Age Group

Number of Doses

Pfizer-BioNTech  12 years and older

2 doses*

Moderna  18 years and older

2 doses*

Oxford-AstraZeneca 

18 years and older (as per Health Canada)7

30 years and older (as per NACI)9 

2 doses*
Janssen 

18 years and older (as per Health Canada) 8

30 years and older (as per NACI) 10

1 dose

*The intervals between doses in London and Middlesex County is 112 days based upon the direction of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, with limited exceptions.


Are the COVID-19 vaccines effective?

All vaccines approved by Health Canada for use in Ontario are determined to be safe and effective through an independent, scientific, and thorough review of the research. 

For more information, read:


Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

All vaccines approved by Health Canada for use in Ontario are determined to be safe and effective through an independent, scientific, and thorough review of the research.

As with most vaccines, common side effects have been reported during their research trials. These side effects are likely to be moderate and resolve after a few days. Learn more →

Vaccine

Very common or common side effects

Uncommon side effects

(may affect up to 1 in 100 people)

Pfizer-BioNTech 3
  • Pain at injection site
  • Redness at injection site
  • Swelling at injection site
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Joint pain
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Feeling unwell
Moderna 5
  • Pain at injection site
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle ache and stiffness
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Swelling or redness at the injection site
  • Nausea / Vomiting
  • Enlarged lymph nodes

 

Oxford-AstraZeneca 7
  • Tenderness, pain, warmth, redness, itching or swelling at injection site
  • Generally feeling unwell
  • Feeling tired (fatigue)
  • Chills or feeling feverish
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Feeling sick (nausea)
  • Being sick (vomiting) or diarrhea
  • Joint pain or muscle ache
  • Pain in legs or arms
  • Flu-like symptoms, such as high temperature, sore throat, runny nose, coughs and chills
  • Sleepiness or feeling dizzy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Excessive sweating, itchy skin or rash
Janssen 8
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Muscle aches
  • Pain at injection site
  • Feeling very tired (fatigue)
  • Fever
  • Redness at injection site
  • Swelling at injection site
  • Chills
  • Joint pain
  • Rash
  • Muscle weakness
  • Arm or leg pain
  • Feeling weak
  • Feeling generally unwell

Important information: Adverse Reactions

In very rare situations, some people may experience serious symptoms or an adverse reaction. Learn more about the symptoms and when to go to the nearest emergency department or call 9-1-1: COVID-19 Vaccine Information Sheet.

Update on the Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaccine

There have been very rare reports of blood clots (thrombosis) and low blood platelet counts (blood cells that help the body stop bleeding) after receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. This has been called Vaccine-Induced Prothrombotic Immune Thrombocytopenia (VIPIT). These rare adverse events occurred mostly in women under the age of 55.  The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is still recommended because the benefits of the vaccine in protecting people from COVID-19 outweigh the risks of side effects.

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of these symptoms between days 4 and 20 following receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine:

  • difficulty breathing / shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • leg swelling
  • ongoing pain in the abdominal (stomach)
  • neurological symptoms - severe or worsening heachaches, blurred vision that happens suddenly
  • skin bruising or sports (other than where you got the vaccine)

Learn more:


Who should not get the COVID-19 vaccine?

You should not get the vaccine if you:

  • have ever had a severe allergic reaction (e.g. anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or any of its components or container
  • are younger than the approved age for the vaccine

You should delay getting the vaccine if you:

  • have received another vaccine, besides a COVID-19 vaccine, in the past 14 days
  • have symptoms of an acute or co-existing illness
  • have symptoms of COVID-19
  • have been advised to self-isolate due to a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection or close contact with someone who has COVID-19 – delay until your period of self-isolation is over

For more information, please read COVID-19 Vaccine Information Sheet.

There are certain situations when you will need to talk to your primary healthcare provider before receiving the vaccine. These include if you:

  • are pregnant, think you may be pregnant or plan to become pregnant (you must state that you have spoken with your healthcare provider prior to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine)
  • have a history of anaphylaxis or immediate allergic reaction to any other vaccine or injectable therapy (you must provide documentation at the COVID-19 vaccination clinic from an allergist-immunologist that it would be okay to immunize you in a non-hospital setting)
  • are receiving immunosuppressing therapies such as stem cell therapy, chemotherapy, CAR-T therapy, immune checkpoint inhibitors, monoclonal antibodies (eg. Rituximab) and other targeted agents (such as CD4/6 inhibitors, PARP inhibitors etc). You must speak with your treating provider to ensure the timing of vaccine doses and therapies, and you must state that you have spoken to them prior to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine)

Remember to speak to the vaccinator (the person who will provide the vaccine to you) at the COVID-19 Immunization Clinic if you have discussed any of the issues mentioned above with your primary healthcare provider, or if you:

  • have had any problems following a previous vaccine
  • have any allergies
  • have a high fever or severe infection
  • have any serious illness
  • have an autoimmune condition
  • have a weakened immune system due to a medical condition or are taking medication that affects your immune system
  • have a bleeding disorder or are taking medication that could affect your blood clotting, if you bruise easily or are taking a blood-thinning medication
  • are pregnant, think you may be pregnant or plan to become pregnant
  • are breastfeeding

For more information, please read: COVID-19 Vaccination Recommendations for Special Populations.


Pharmacies delivering vaccinations

AstraZeneca is now available for adults 40 years and over at pharmacy locations in London and Middlesex County. When you’re eligible, get the shot that’s offered to you first! All COVID-19 vaccines available in Ontario are safe, effective and approved by Health Canada.

Book an appointment
To make an appointment, please contact the pharmacy directly.

Click here to find a participating pharmacy

 
 

AstraZeneca Info Chart

Download Image (JPG)


More Information


Continue to follow public health guidance

Until COVID-19 vaccines are widely available and the majority of the population is vaccinated, it is vital that we all continue to follow local public health guidance. 

  • Limit interactions with others
  • Practice physical distancing
  • Wear a face covering while in enclosed places or where physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 15-20 seconds or use waterless hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol content
  • Cover your coughs and/or sneezes with your sleeve or cough into your elbow
  • Clean high-touch areas, such as doorknobs in public spaces, frequently
 
Date of creation: December 18, 2020
Last modified on: May 5, 2021

References

1Government of Canada. (2020). Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine: What you should know. Retrieved from
https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/covid19-industry/drugs-vaccines-treatments/vaccines/pfizer-biontech.html
2Government of Canada. (2020). Moderna COVID-19 vaccine: What you should know. Retrieved from
https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/covid19-industry/drugs-vaccines-treatments/vaccines/moderna.html
3BioNTech Manufacturing GmbH & Pfizer Canada ULC. (2020). Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine: COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, suspension for intramuscular injection [Product monograph]. Retrieved from
https://covid-vaccine.canada.ca/info/pdf/pfizer-biontech-covid-19-vaccine-pm1-en.pdf
4National Advisory Committee on Immunization. (2020, December 12). Recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccine(s). Retrieved from
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/immunization/national-advisory-committee-on-immunization-naci/recommendations-use-covid-19-vaccines.html
5Moderna Therapeutics Inc. (2020, December). Moderna COVID-19 vaccine mRNA-1273 SARS-CoV-2 vaccine: Suspension for intramuscular injection [Product monograph]. Retrieved from
https://covid-vaccine.canada.ca/info/pdf/moderna-covid-19-vaccine-pm1.pdf
6National Advisory Committee on Immunization. (2021). Recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccines. Government of Canada. Retrieved from
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/immunization/national-advisory-committee-on-immunization-naci/recommendations-use-covid-19-vaccines.html
7Government of Canada. (2021). Details for: Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine. Retrieved from
https://covid-vaccine.canada.ca/info/astrazeneca-covid-19-vaccine-en.html
8Government of Canada. (2021). Details for: Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. Retrieved from
https://covid-vaccine.canada.ca/info/janssen-covid-19-vaccine-en.html
9National Advisory Committee on Immunization. (2021, April 23). Summary of updated vaccine statement of April 23, 2021. Government of Canada. Retrieved from
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/immunization/national-advisory-committee-on-immunization-naci/recommendations-use-covid-19-vaccines/summary-updated-statement-april-23-2021.html
10National Advisory Committee on Immunization. (2021, May 3). Recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccines. Government of Canada. Retrieved from
https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/phac-aspc/documents/services/immunization/national-advisory-committee-on-immunization-naci/recommendations-use-covid-19-vaccines/recommendations-use-covid-19-vaccines-en.pdf