Here's what you need to know about getting the COVID-19 vaccine in the Toronto area
TORONTO -- Nearly a year after the first infection was found in the province, Ontario reached a significant milestone in the fight against COVID-19 on Dec. 14, 2020.
On that date, the first dose of a vaccine against the novel coronavirus was administered in the province.
Now, as more doses become available and more needles go into arms across the province, many questions remain.
- Ontario shortens gap between COVID-19 vaccine doses with majority of residents fully vaccinated by end of summer
- When can you book your second COVID-19 vaccine in Ontario?
- Ontario allows youth 12 or older to book COVID-19 vaccines
- Ontario anticipates all adults over 18 will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by end of May
- Ontario releases more details on how people in COVID-19 hot spots can get vaccine
- COVID-19 vaccine coming to 700 more pharmacies across Ontario
- Full list of Ontario neighbourhoods where the COVID-19 vaccine will be available to those 18+
WHO CAN GET THEIR FIRST DOSE?
Adults 18+: The province launched an online booking system for mass immunizations. As of May 18, all adults aged 18 and older in regions using the province's system can book a vaccine appointment.
Youth aged 12 to 17: Teenagers within this age group can now book an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine through the provincial portal or get a vaccine at select pop-up clinics offering the Pfizer shot. Officials say that people need to have already turned 12 years old at the time of booking.
18 and older in Ontario hot spots: All adults living in one of Ontario's 114 high-risk neighbourhoods can get the COVID-19 vaccine at mobile and pop-up clinics, in addition to mass immunization clinics. These clinics will be organized by local community groups. Individuals should book an appointment through their local public health unit.
12 and older in Peel Region: Every person aged 12 and older in Peel Region is eligible to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment using the region's website. For people unable to book an appointment online they should call 1-888-999-6488.
12 and older in a York Region: York Region is using both the provincial system and has it's own booking portal for COVID-19 vaccines. Officials say that anyone aged 12 and up can book an appointment, although there are specific clinics dedicated to youth.
AstraZeneca on pause for first doses: Ontario has paused first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine at pharmacies and doctor's offices. Those who have already received the first dose have been cleared to get a second shot when their time comes or can choose to get a dose of Pfizer or Moderna.
WHO CAN GET THEIR SECOND DOSE?
First shot on or before May 9: Anyone in Ontario who received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine can now book their second shot using the provincial system or at a pharmacy.
10 hot spots: Individuals in the following 10 hot spots who received their first dose on or before May 30 can get a shot as of June 23 using the provincial portal, a local public health unit booking system or at a pharmacy. The hot spots includethe Hamilton,Simcoe-Muskoka, Durham Region, Halton, Peel, Porcupine, Toronto, Waterloo, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph and York public health units
The Ontario government is currently in the process of accelerating the timeline between COVID-19 vaccine doses.The goal is to have the majority of Ontarians who want the shot to be fully vaccinated by the end of summer.
HOW TO CANCEL PREVIOUSLY BOOKED APPOINTMENTS?
Individuals who book through the provincial system will not need to cancel their old second dose appointments. The system should automatically update.
If you were scheduled through the provincial site but chose to get your second dose at a pharmacy or pop-up, you will need to cancel by either contacting the provincial booking call centre at 1-833-943-3900 or by following this government link.
Initially, Ontario residents receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine were advised to receive their second dose 21 days after the first dose. As well, those receiving the Moderna vaccine were advised to receive their second dose within 28 days of their first.
On Feb. 14, the provincial government said all second dose appointments for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be conducted within 35 days and no later than 42 days of receiving the first dose to increase availability during a supply-limited time. This new messaging does not apply to residents of long-term care, high-risk retirement and First Nations elder care homes, as well as residents of other types of congregate care homes for seniors and those 80 years of age or older.
On May 10, the government further expanded their list of who can receive a second dose in a shorter time. The list includes medical workers dealing with COVID-19 patients, COVID-19 testing centre staff and first responders.
WHERE DO I SIGN UP?
The Ontario government has launched a web portal to help with booking appointments for the general population. The portal went live at 8 a.m. on March 15.
For those with a red and white health card, or anyone who is not comfortable using the online tool, the province has also launched a call centre. The Provincial Vaccine Information Line number is 1-888-999-6488.
As part of their individual strategies, each local public health unit will outline where residents can sign up to receive their vaccine. Residents in the regions of Durham, Halton and Peel will not be able to use the province’s web portal, as they have opted to stick with their own booking systems.
On March 15, the province released a list of which public health unit was using their portal.
Some individual hospitals are also using their own booking system, found on their websites.
Hamilton: Hamilton residents can book an appointment using the province’s booking portal. Anyone unable to use the portal or who may not have a valid Ontario photo health card should call the public health unit’s COVID-19 hotline at 905-974-9848 and choosing option seven.
York Region: Residents in York Region will transition to using both the provincial online booking tool and the provincial call centre. More information can be found here.
Peel Region: Residents in Peel Region has opted to use their own online booking tool or phone line to book vaccinations. Residents can book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment at the William Osler Health System Vaccine Clinic through an online booking tool or by phone at 905-494-2120, ext. 56685.
Halton Region: Officials said an online booking system is available or residents can call 311 if assistance is required. Halton has said that it is now vaccinated residents aged 70 and over.
Durham Region: Officials said an online booking system is available.
Toronto: Officials have set up a website that allows residents to pre-register or book a vaccine appointment, but will transfer to the provincial booking portal and call centre on March 15. Mass vaccination clinics in Toronto are scheduled to begin administering doses of the vaccine on March 17.
WHO IS NEXT IN LINE?
Ontario has now opened up eligibility to everyone over the age of 12, regardless of their health conditions, locations or employment.
No information has been provided thus far about COVID-19 vaccinations for people under the age of 12.
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW BEFORE REGISTERING?
- You will be asked to stay for 15 to 30 minutes after receiving the dose to monitor for any adverse events
- As with all other medications and vaccines, the COVID-19 shot can cause side effects – the most frequent adverse reactions were typically mild or moderate in intensity and resolved within a few days
- Some of the potential side effects include; pain at injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint pain, chills, fever, swollen glands, diarrhea, nausea/vomiting, enlarged lymph nodes in your underarm
WHERE ARE THE VACCINES BEING ADMINISTERED?
All of Ontario’s local public health units will announce plans on where the vaccine will be distributed as doses become more widely available. The Ministry of Health said plans could include administering vaccines at mass immunization clinics in convention centres, warehouses or retail spaces, as well as pharmacies and physicians’ offices.
Currently, vaccines are being administered at clinics, hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes, and First Nations using mobile units. As of April 1, more than 750 pharmacies began offering the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to residents aged 60 and up.
Some primary care professionals in Hamilton, Toronto, Guelph, Peterborough, Simcoe-Muskoka and Peel Region will also be contacting patients between the ages of 60 and 64 to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
When supply is available the following clinic sites are ready to open, according to each local public health unit.
Toronto - The following locations are open:
- Metro Toronto Convention Centre – 255 Front Street West
- Scarborough Town Centre – 300 Borough Drive
- Toronto Congress Centree – 650 Dixon Road
- East York Town Centre - 45 Overlea Boulevard
- Mitchell Field Arena – 89 Church Avenue
- Malvern Community Recreation Centre – 30 Sewells Road
- The Hangar Sports & Event Centre –75 Carl Hall Road.
- Cloverdale Mall - 250 The East Mall.
- North Toronto Memorial Community Centre- 200 Eglinton Avenue West.
- Carmine Stefano Community Centre - 3100 Weston Road.
Officials said on March 1 that there will be more than 350 different locations administering COVID-19 vaccines in the city once supply improves. A full list of vaccination sites can be found here.
- Cornell Community Centre – 3201 Bur Oak Avenue in Markham
- Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital – Major Mackenzie Drive West in Vaughan
- Ray Twinney Complex – 100 Eagle Street West in Newmarket
- Aaniin Community Centre – 5665 14th Avenue in Markham
- Maple Community Centre – 10190 Keele Street in Vaughan
- Richmond Green Sports Centre – 1300 Elgin Mills Road East in Richmond Hill
- Georgina Ice Palace – 90 Wexford Drive in Georgina
- Canada's Wonderland - 1 Canada's Wonderland Drive
- 7120 Hurontario Street in Mississauga
- 10 Peel Centre Drive in Brampton
- Caledon East Community Complex – 6215 Old Church Road in Caledon East
- Brampton Soccer Centre – 1495 Sandalwood Parkway East in Brampton
- Paramount Fine Foods Centre, Sportsplex C – 5600 Rose Cherry Place in Mississauga
- Durham College in Oshawa
- Ontario Tech University in Oshawa
- Chestnut Hills Development Complex – 1867 Valley Farm Road in Pickering
- Gellert Community Centre – 10241 Eighth Line in Georgetown
- St. Volodymyr Culture Centre – 1280 Dundas Street West in Oakville
- Compass Point Bible Church – 1500 Kerns Road in Burlington
- FirstOntairo Arts Centre – 1010 Main Street East in Milton
- Joseph Brant Hospital – 1245 Lakeshore Road in Burlington
- St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton – 100 West 5th Street
- Saltfleet Community Centre – 605 Regional Road 8 in Stoney Creek
- Ancaster Rotary Club/Morgan Firestone – 385 Jerseyville Road West in Ancaster
- Dundas Community Centre – 10 Market Street South in Dundas
- Harry Howell Arena – 27 Highway 5 West in Flamborough
WHAT SHOULD I BRING TO MY APPOINTMENT?
- Ontario health card
- If you do not have an Ontario health care you are asked to bring another piece of photo identification that is government-issued, such as a drivers licence, passport, status card or other provincial health cards
- Face mask
- Immunization record to keep track of this vaccine and others
- Assistive devices as needed
- Reading glasses and/or hearing air if required
- Support person if required
- You should take your regular medication and eat meals as per usual
- Do not wear any scented products
- Wear a loose-fitting top so health-care provider can easily access your arm for the vaccination
WHO DO I CONTACT IF I HAVE QUESTIONS?
Residents of Ontario can contact their local public health unit for further information on vaccine rollout plans.