About the COVID-19 vaccines
Details about the vaccines including side effects.
Health Canada has evaluated, licensed and approved the following COVID-19 vaccines for use in Canada:
- Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech)
- Spikevax (Moderna)
- Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca)
- Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)
- Novavax (Nuvaxovid)
- Medicago (Covifenz)
These COVID-19 vaccines have been approved by Health Canada on the basis of their quality, safety and efficacy. All the vaccines were proven to be effective at preventing COVID-19 symptoms, and preventing severe complications such as hospitalization and death.
The vaccines are free with no cost to the public. The vaccines currently approved for use in Canada do not contain any animal-derived ingredients. Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine approval process and safety from the Ministry of Health.
Getting fully vaccinated
In Ontario, you’re considered fully vaccinated if you have received:
- The full primary series of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by Health Canada, or any combination of such vaccines (2 doses of Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Novavax, Medicago, AstraZeneca, including COVISHIELD) or 1 dose of Janssen (Johnson & Johnson); or
- A full or partial primary series of a non-Health Canada authorized vaccine plus any additional recommended doses of a Health Canada authorized COVID-19 vaccine to complete the primary series; and
- Your final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before providing the proof of being fully vaccinated.
Individuals should receive all recommended doses (including booster doses) to stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines. Visit the recommended doses guidance to see if you are up to date.
- Vaccination for COVID-19 – Government of Canada
- COVID-19 Vaccines for Ontario – Government of Ontario
Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech) and Spikevax (Moderna) COVID-19 vaccines are messenger RNA vaccines, often called mRNA vaccines. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends mRNA vaccines for first, second and booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccines.
Novavax (Nuvaxovid) is a recombinant protein subunit vaccine and is authorized for use in people who are 18 years or older. The vaccine may be offered to people who are not able or willing to receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. An mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) continues to be preferentially recommended.
Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) are viral-vector-based vaccines and are authorized for use in people who are 18 years or older. They should not be given to individuals with certain health conditions. Talk to your health care provider to see if this vaccine is right for you. An mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) continues to be preferentially recommended. Ontario recommends that a booster dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine should be given at least 6 months after the Janssen vaccine.
Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) can be used for first and second doses only. It’s not currently authorized as a booster dose.
Medicago (Covifenz) is a Canadian plant-based virus-like particle vaccine. It has been approved by Health Canada, but it is not yet available in Ontario.
Learn more from Health Canada about each of these different types of COVID-19 vaccines including how they work.
Consult your health care provider before getting vaccinated if you have:
- A known allergy to a component of the vaccine.
- A compromised immune system or an autoimmune condition.
- Experienced a serious allergic reaction (including anaphylaxis) to another vaccine, drug, or food.
- A history of myocarditis or pericarditis.
- A bleeding disorder.
If you're allergic to any component of the vaccine or if you've had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, talk to your health care provider. You will need to be referred to an allergist, who will provide you with a letter indicating that you have discussed the risks and benefits of getting vaccinated, and that vaccination is recommended. You must show a copy of this letter before getting vaccinated.
If you have previously been diagnosed with myocarditis, talk to your health care provider about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. You will need to get a letter from your health care provider indicating that you have discussed the risks and benefits of getting vaccinated, and that vaccination is recommended. You must show a copy of this letter before getting vaccinated.
Vaccination after having COVID-19
If you've had COVID-19 before, you're still encouraged to get the vaccine. You must still wait the recommended interval between doses.
In addition, if you tested positive for COVID, or, if you had symptoms of COVID-19 and someone in your household tested positive, follow these recommendations:
- You may receive your first or second dose of COVID-19 vaccine 8 weeks after your symptoms started, or after your positive test result (if you had no symptoms).
- You may receive your booster dose (including second booster) of COVID-19 vaccine 3 months after your symptoms started, or after your positive test result (if you had no symptoms).
If you had symptoms of COVID-19, but did not test positive or were not a household contact of someone who had COVID-19, you can receive your first, second or a booster dose if:
- You’ve completed your self-isolation
- Your symptoms are improving
- You do not have a fever for at least 24 hours (without the use of medications)
- Any gastrointestinal symptoms have been improving for 48 hours
If you still have symptoms or aren’t sure if you should get your COVID-19 vaccine at this time, speak to a health care provider before going to a vaccination clinic.
First and second doses
Vaccines available by appointment or walk-in
There are many ways to get your COVID-19 vaccine. Find a clinic or pharmacy location in your neighbourhood.
If you’re 5 years or older you are eligible to get vaccinated.
- A variation of the Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech) vaccine has been authorized for use in children 5 to 11 years old. Learn more about the vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old..
- A variation of the Spikevax (Moderna) vaccine has been authorized for use in children 6 to 11 years old.
- Those 12 to 17 years of age will receive the Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech) vaccine.
- For individuals between the ages of 5 and 29, it's preferred that they receive the Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech) vaccine.
Learn more about health precautions that you should consult a health care provider before getting vaccinated.
In Ontario, the recommended time between the first and second dose of the vaccine is at least 8 weeks.
If you received your first dose of an mRNA vaccine (Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech) or Spikevax (Moderna), you can get a second dose of either mRNA vaccine.
If you received your first dose of Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca), you can get a second dose of either Spikevax (Moderna) or Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech).
In Canada, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has advised that, based on current scientific evidence and expert opinion, mixing different vaccines is safe and effective to protect against COVID-19.
Booster doses are available for anyone 12 years or older. If you’re 12 to 17 years of age, it must be at least 6 months since your second dose. For those 18 years or older you can get your booster dose at least 3 months after your second dose.
Second booster doses are available for adults 60 years or older, or First Nations, Inuit and Métis and their household members, who are 18 years or older. The recommended interval is at least 5 months from your first booster.
Third and booster doses for immunocompromised individuals
The following moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals who are 12 years or older are eligible for a third dose, if it has been at least 2 months (or 8 weeks) after the second dose:
- Individuals receiving active treatment (chemotherapy, targeted therapies, immunotherapy) for solid tumour or hematologic malignancies.
- Individuals receiving dialysis (hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis).
- Recipients of solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy.
- Recipients of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T-cell therapy or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (within 2 years of transplantation or taking immunosuppression therapy).
- Recipients post-transplantation for hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT), hematopoietic cell transplants (HCT) (autologous or allogeneic), and recipients of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T-cell therapy.
- Individuals with moderate to severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome).
- Individuals with stage 3 or advanced untreated HIV infection and those with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.
Individuals receiving active treatment with the following categories of immunosuppressive therapies: anti-B cell therapies2 (monoclonal antibodies targeting CD19, CD20 and CD22), high-dose systemic corticosteroids (refer to the CIG for suggested definition of high dose steroids), alkylating agents, antimetabolites, or tumor-necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors and other biologic agents that are significantly immunosuppressive.
These individuals are also eligible for a booster dose:
- For anyone 12 to 17 years old, if it has been at least 6 months (or 168 days) since their third dose
- For anyone 18 years or older, if it has been at least 3 months (or 84 days) since their third dose
Second booster doses are available for immunocompromised individuals who are also part of a group that is currently eligible for second boosters. This includes individuals who are 60 years or older, or First Nations, Inuit and Métis and their household members, who are 18 years or older. The recommended interval is at least 5 months from their first booster.
Mild to moderate side effects
Like all vaccines, some people may experience side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. These side effects will likely be mild to moderate and can develop after getting the vaccine. Some of these side effects are part of the body’s response to developing immunity. Mild to moderate side effects include:
- pain at the injection site
- muscle and joint pain
Although these side effects are not serious to your health, they may make you feel unwell. These side effects will go away on their own. Placing a cool, damp cloth where the vaccine was given may reduce soreness. Pain or fever medication (such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen) may help reduce overall body pain or fever.
To get the best protection against COVID-19, it’s crucial that you get a second vaccine dose, even if you experienced mild side effects after your first dose. When getting your second dose, let the person giving you the vaccine know about any side effects you experienced with the first dose.
Serious side effects
Serious side effects after receiving the vaccine are rare, however a severe reaction can develop within 4 hours to 1 week of receiving a vaccine. If you develop any of the following serious symptoms or symptoms that could be an allergic reaction, seek medical attention or call 911:
- hives (bumps on the skin that are often very itchy)
- swelling of the face, tongue, or throat
- difficulty breathing, wheezing
- chest pain
- the feeling of a fast, pounding, or fluttering heartbeat
- high fever (over 40 C/104 F)
- very pale colour and serious drowsiness
- convulsions or seizures
- other symptoms like pins and needles, or numbness
Any serious side effects after vaccination should also be reported to Peel Public Health by calling 905-799-7700.
It's important to follow up with your health care provider if you experience serious side effects. Health care providers can find information on reporting an adverse event on the Health Professionals page.
Myocarditis and pericarditis
Cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining around the heart) following vaccination remain rare and have been reported in a small number of people in Canada and internationally. Even among age groups with the highest observed rates of this event, cases occur at a frequency of less than 0.1%.
Cases typically occur within a week of receiving an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine and are more common after a second dose. These events have been mild and treatable and will continue to be monitored closely. The benefits of COVID-19 vaccination continue to outweigh the risks of COVID-19.
If you experience any of the following symptoms of myocarditis or pericarditis, you should be assessed by your health care provider for this condition prior to receiving any additional doses:
- chest pain
- shortness of breath
- feeling of a fast, pounding, or fluttering heartbeat.
If you received a COVID-19 vaccine outside of Ontario, the record of your vaccine will not be automatically entered into the Peel Public Health or Ontario Ministry of Health systems.
Submitting a record of an out-of-province vaccination to Peel Public Health is not mandatory, however, if you are eligible for an additional dose of vaccine and would like to receive it, any out-of-province doses must be recorded in the Ontario Ministry of Health system.
You must also report your out-of-province vaccines to get an Ontario vaccine certificate.
For your vaccine to be recorded in the Ontario Ministry of Health system, you must provide a record of vaccination to Peel Public Health. We’ll review your record and enter it into the Ontario Ministry of Health COVID-19 Vaccine system, on your behalf. Peel Public Health will only accept out-of-province information from those who reside in Peel. Individuals who do not live in Peel must refer to the public health unit where they live.
Reporting out-of-province vaccinations
If you received a vaccine approved by Health Canada
Submit your record of vaccination through our online reporting tool.
When submitting your record of vaccination, you’ll need to provide a phone number and email address so we can reach you about your record. If you do not have your record of vaccination, contact the health care provider who gave you the vaccine and ask for a copy. After you submit your record of vaccination, you will receive a confirmation email. You will receive email notification when we’ve completed our review and submitted your record to the Ministry of Health.
- If you’re submitting your first dose, once your record of vaccination is in Ontario’s Ministry of Health system, you can book your appointment for your second dose.
- If you’re submitting your second dose or both your first and second dose, once your record of vaccination is in Ontario’s Ministry of Health system, no further action is necessary, unless you are eligible for a third or booster dose.
- After you submit your dose information, you may receive instructions about receiving an additional dose of vaccine depending on when you received your second dose. If your second dose is shorter than 19 days for Comirnaty (Pfizer) and 21 days for Spikevax (Moderna), you should also receive 1 additional dose of an mRNA vaccine, 8 weeks after your second dose to be considered fully vaccinated.
If you received a vaccine not approved by Health Canada
Submit your record of vaccination through our online reporting tool.
If you received 1 or 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not approved by Health Canada, you may receive 1 additional dose at least 28 days after your last dose to complete the vaccine series.
If you have questions about your specific situation, call Peel Public Health at 905-799-7700. (Caledon 905-584-2216.) Our call centre is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Submit your vaccine receipt
Use our online tool to submit your out of province vaccine receipt.
If your vaccine receipt is not in English
When submitting an out of province vaccine receipt that’s in a language other than English, you must also provide a typed English translated document. The document doesn’t have to be professionally translated. Anyone can prepare it for you. It must include:
- Date of birth
- Vaccination date
- Vaccine name
- Country or province where vaccine was given
- Number of doses received
If you’ve already submitted your vaccine receipt without an English translation, you’ll receive an email from Peel Public Health. You will need to resubmit your vaccine receipt using the online reporting tool, and include both the original vaccine receipt and the translated document.
If you have questions about your specific situation, call Peel Public Health at 905-799-7700. (Caledon 905-584-2216.) Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Peel Region is working with the Ontario government to process COVID-19 vaccine medical exemptions. Your doctor or nurse practitioner will need to submit this request for medical exemption on your behalf. If you believe you qualify for a medical exemption, contact your doctor or nurse practitioner directly.
The medical exemption form must be fully completed for it to be accepted. Forms with incomplete information will be returned to the submitting provider. Providers are also asked to verify that the correct form is attached before submission. Medical exemptions that are based on Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) from previous COVID-19 vaccine doses should be validated against AEFI reports and records of doses received.
Specific details regarding status of your submission will be communicated to your health care practitioner. After the request has been received, processing time may be 2 to 4 weeks depending on volumes.