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COVID-19 Vaccinations in York Region

This page will be continuously updated as more information about COVID-19 vaccines become available.

COVID-19 vaccines will serve as an important tool in helping stop the spread of the virus and allow individuals and families to safely return to a normal life. Immunization is one of the safest ways to protect you and your family from illness associated with vaccine preventable diseases. Vaccines being developed are used to prevent COVID-19, which is caused by the SARS-COV-2 virus.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 and Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are currently approved for use by Health Canada. Both vaccines meet the stringent safety, efficacy and quality requirements for use in Canada.

Additional vaccines are being reviewed by Health Canada including vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Janssen (pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson).

The COVID-19 vaccine will:

  • Work with your immune system to help you from getting COVID-19
  • Safely help build protection
  • Be voluntary

Vaccines are tightly regulated and closely monitored in Canada. Only vaccines that are safe and effective will be approved for use in Canada.

The daily and the total number of COVID-19 vaccines administered is currently reported by the Ministry of Health and can be found on the Province’s website.


Vaccination program

The Province has developed a Vaccine Distribution Implementation Plan divided into three phases:

Phase One

Over the next several months of the Ontario immunization program, the early doses of the vaccine will be available for:

  • Residents, staff, essential caregivers and other employers in congregate living settings that provide care for seniors and other vulnerable residents
  • Health care workers, including hospital employees and other staff who work or study in hospitals
  • Adults in First Nations populations
  • Adult recipients of chronic home health care

This approach and the groups chosen as first priorities are designated by the Federal and Provincial governments.

The Province has designated 19 hospital sites to begin immunization as part of Phase One of Ontario’s Vaccine Distribution Implementation Plan. The Province has also indicated it will prioritize regions in the Red-Control and Grey-Lockdown Zones that have the highest rates of infection. 

During Phase One, Ontario will receive doses of the Moderna vaccine. This vaccine will be administered to long-term care homes to begin with, followed by high-risk retirement centres and other congregate care settings for seniors. 

The Province outlines approximately 1.1 million people will receive the COVID-19 vaccine during Phase One, between the months of January and the end of March.

Phase Two

The Province will shift to Phase Two of its vaccination implementation plan when more vaccines become available in Ontario. Phase Two will run from early April until the end of June. The Province expects to receive 15 million combined doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, between the months of April and June.

The Province plans to set up mass vaccination sites during this phase to administer doses, while some hospitals will also offer vaccinations. The Province has not decided how it will prioritize access to the vaccine during this phase, with a decision coming in the next few weeks.

The Province hopes to vaccinate 7.5 million people during Phase Two.

Phase Three

Phase Three will begin in the spring/summer of 2021 when vaccines are widely available for everyone who wishes to be immunized, though vaccines will not be mandated. In this phase, vaccines will be widely available in places other than mass vaccination sites, such as family doctor’s offices and pharmacies.

Over the next few weeks, the Province is expected to publicly release the order and timeframe for when different population groups can expect their COVID-19 vaccine. More details will be shared as soon as they are available.

The Ontario government will provide people who complete their COVID-19 vaccination with a proof of vaccination in the event it is needed for travel, attend events or enter businesses.

Calculate when you might receive your vaccination

Use the OMNI Calculator tool to estimate when you are likely to receive a vaccination. The calculator is based on the national guidelines priority list released by the Government of Canada and assumes all vaccines are approved and on schedule. This information is subject to change and does not factor in Provincial rollout plans.


Vaccinating in Long-Term Care Homes

Distribution of the Moderna vaccine to long-term care homes in York Region began on Janury 2. This is an exciting and hopeful step forward in the fight against COVID-19. Soon, approximately 28 long-term care homes and 3,700 long-term care residents in York Region will have access to these life-saving vaccines.

York Region Public Health is working closely with the Ministry of Health and long-term care homes to rapidly train staff in the administering of the vaccine. All long-term care homes in York Region have been contacted to begin preparations for on-site vaccinations at all sites as soon as possible.

York Region Public Health will support long-term care homes with planning, supplies, cold chain inspection, oversight and reporting throughout the vaccination process. Careful consideration will be taken to ensure safe transport, storage and administering of the vaccines, as it is vital to reduce the amount of wasted vaccines as much as possible. Long-term care home staff will be responsible for administering the vaccine to residents. 

The COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary, but highly encouraged for those who are eligible, as it not only protects the individual, but everyone around them. For long-term care residents who are unable to consent to the vaccine themselves, long-term care homes will work with their substitute decision-make to obtain consent prior to the immunization date.

Out of respect for residents living in long-term care homes, and the safety and security of the vaccine, York Region will not publicly share specific dates and times of the vaccine distribution. 

Vaccinating children

At first, COVID-19 vaccines are not expected to be available for anyone under the age of 16.

Early clinical trials focused on adults only to test the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. The groups recommended to receive the vaccines could change as Health Canada receives more information from clinical trials.


Types of COVID-19 vaccines

We are committed to helping you make an informed choice about COVID-19 vaccination. Vaccines are an important part of overall health and disease prevention. Please see below for information on each COVID-19 vaccine that has been approved by Health Canada.

Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine

Developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech, this vaccine has been approved by Health Canada, paving the way for vaccinations to commence in Canada.

Health Canada has approved the vaccine for use in people 16 and older. This vaccine requires two doses, with the second dose administered at least 21 days after the first.

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine: What you should know

Moderna Vaccine

Developed by Moderna Therapeutics Inc., this vaccine has been approved by Health Canada, making it the second vaccine to be approved for use in Canada.

Health Canada has approved the vaccine for use in people 18 and older. This vaccine requires two doses, with the second dose administered 28 days after the first.

Moderna COVID-19 vaccine: What you should know

Other Vaccines

You learn more about other vaccines being reviewed by Health Canada here.


What can you do while waiting for the vaccine?

The most important thing someone can do while waiting for a vaccine is continuing to follow public health guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19. When a large percentage of the population, is protected against the virus, the spread of the virus will slow. This is known as herd immunity. Until it’s communicated otherwise, please continue to:

  • Follow the public health guidelines in York Region
  • Physically distance of at least 2-metres from others
  • Wear a mask in indoor public settings and on transit
  • Practice proper hand hygiene
  • Practice proper respiratory etiquette
  • Avoid travelling to lower transmission areas
  • Download the COVID Alert app
For more information about COVID-19, visit our other associated resources.

Fraudulent COVID-19 vaccines and treatments

York Region Public Health and York Regional Police are warning residents about the risks of buying COVID-19 vaccines sold on the internet or from unauthorized sources as they are counterfeit and may pose serious health risks.

  • Do not buy or use COVID-19 vaccines sold on the internet or from unauthorized sources as they are counterfeit, may pose risks to health, and are ineffective at protecting an individual from the COVID-19 virus.
  • The only way to access safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is through clinics organized or endorsed by your local public health authority, in collaboration with Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments.
  • Consult a health care professional if you have any concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Report any information on the sale or advertising of potential counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines to York Regional Police

Visit reliable and trusted sources of information, such as:


Frequently asked questions

About the vaccine

Are all the COVID-19 vaccines effective?

Two mRNA vaccines (from Pfizer and Moderna) both report to be over 90% effective from their vaccine trial studies. Additional vaccines may report different levels of efficacy as their trial studies are completed.

How well is the vaccine tested? Is it safe?

Only vaccines that are safe and effective are approved by Health Canada for use in Canada. Multiple different vaccines are currently being reviewed for use in Canada. Each vaccine has been rigorously tested in a series of large-scale trials.

Vaccines are tightly regulated and closely monitored in Canada. Health Canada will only approve a vaccine that is safe for widespread use.

Side effects to vaccines are typically mild and temporary, such as soreness at the injection site headache or temporary fever. Adverse side effects are rare. If you are concerned about side effects or your personal health with vaccine use, speak to your family physician.

Vaccines are continually monitored for safety and effectiveness at federal, provincial and local levels. Health care providers and the public also play a part in this, by reporting any uncommon side effects after a receiving a vaccine.

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Impact of the vaccine

How soon will we start to see the impact of the vaccine on COVID-19 cases?

COVID-19 vaccine quantities will be limited for the beginning of vaccine rollout, with more supplies expected to be available in the spring or summer of 2021.

The vaccine rollout will not likely have a substantial impact on case counts for months, but the initial phase should be able to protect some of those most at risk from the disease such as people in long-term care homes or congregate living settings.

Can I contract COVID-19 from the vaccine?

No. This is not a live vaccine and does not contain the virus; therefore, the vaccine cannot give you infection or disease (COVID-19).

Is the vaccine safe if I have an egg allergy or other allergies?

The list of ingredients for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine does not list egg protein as an ingredient.

If you know you have allergies to any of the ingredients in the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or the  Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, you should not receive it.

If you have experienced a serious allergic reaction to another vaccine, drug or food, you should speak with your healthcare provider before receiving the vaccine.

Do I need to continue to follow public health safety measures after I receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine report being approximately 95% effective. However, it is currently unknown if you can transmit the virus after being immunized, even though you wouldn’t be affected yourself.

As we continue to learn more about the protection provided by the vaccine and about COVID-19, our current advice is to continue to follow Public Health precautions to reduce the risk of infection. As we learn more, the recommendations may be modified.

Even as vaccinations begin in Ontario, we must continue to follow public health measures to keep everyone safe and healthy: Avoid social gatherings, practice physical distancing, wear a mask when required and wash your hands frequently.

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Receiving the vaccine

Who should not receive the vaccine?

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines should not be administered to:

  • Individuals with a history of anaphylaxis after previous administration of the vaccine
  • Persons with proven immediate or anaphylactic hypersensitivity to any component of the vaccine or its container, including polyethylene glycol
  • Vaccination should be deferred in symptomatic individuals with confirmed or suspected SARS-CoV-2 infection, or those with symptoms of COVID-19
  • Individuals who have received another vaccine (not a COVID-19 vaccine) in the past 14 days
  • Individuals who are immunosuppressed due to disease or treatment or those with an autoimmune disorder
  • Individuals who are or could be pregnant
  • Individuals who are breastfeeding

Vaccine should not be offered to individuals who are not in the authorized age group. Pfizer is approved for those 16 years of age and older. Moderna is approved for those 18 years of age and older

Who will get the vaccine first?

At first, there will be limited supply in the initial phase of the vaccine program.

Some groups will be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine first, as recommended by the provincial COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force and in alignment with the federal National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

The goal is for everyone to be able to get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as enough doses are available.

In the first few months of the Ontario immunization program, early doses of the vaccine will be available for:

  • Residents, staff, essential caregivers and other employees in congregate living settings that provide care for seniors as they are at higher risk of infection and serious illness from COVID-19 (essential caregivers provide care services to one resident at a home but are not staff, essential visitors or on-site contractors, an essential caregiver could be a family member)
  • Health care workers (including hospital employees, other staff who work or study in hospitals, and other health care personnel.)
  • Adults in First Nations, Métis and Inuit populations where infection can have disproportionate consequences, including those living in remote or isolated areas where risk of transmission is high
  • Adult recipients of chronic home health care

Ontario will also prioritize regions with the highest rates of COVID-19 infection – those in the red-control and grey-lockdown zones when we receive the vaccine.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine be mandatory?

No, the COVID-19 vaccine will not be mandatory, though it is recommended to those eligible to receive it.

Will there be any restrictions placed on individuals who chose not to get the vaccine?

Restrictions may be considered at a Provincial or Federal level.

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How it works

Will the vaccine be two doses? If so, how will that work?

Both COVID-19 vaccines currently approved by Health Canada (Pfizer) are two dose vaccines.

The second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is given at least 21 days after the first dose. The second dose of the Moderna vaccine is given at least 28 days after the first dose.

Receiving a second dose too soon after the first will make the vaccine less effective and less able to protect against infection.

If you receive a vaccine, be sure to receive a second dose of the same type. 

Two doses adequately spaced are needed in order to provide protection.

How does the vaccine work?

The vaccine works by teaching our cells how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response without using the live virus that causes COVID-19. Once triggered, our body then makes antibodies. These antibodies help us fight infection if the real virus enters our body in the future.

For the vaccine to work best, you need to get two doses. For the Pfizer vaccine, it can take seven days following your second dose to achieve full protection. For the Moderna vaccine, it can take 14 days following your second dose to achieve full protection.
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