Niagara Region Public Health and Emergency Services is closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an evolving situation and we'll continue to update information as it becomes available.
Updated Sept. 13
It's great that you got your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. You need to get a second dose to ensure you have long-lasting protection.
The first dose of a two-dose vaccine lets your body's immune system know what it needs to do to fight COVID-19. The second dose is the one that really gives your immune system the boost that's critical for long-term protection.
Full vaccination is the greatest protection you can have against COVID-19 and its variants. It's not recommended that individuals wait.
If it's been more than four months since your first dose, you don't need to restart the series. However, Public Health does recommend you get your second dose as soon as possible to ensure maximum protection.
If you received your first dose of AstraZeneca, you did the right thing to prevent the risk of infection and death from COVID-19 as early as possible. AstraZeneca is safe and effective to prevent COVID-19 and it reduces the risk of infection and death from COVID-19.
For your second dose, the province indicates that you may:
Choosing either of these options will count as a completed COVID-19 vaccination series. With informed consent, you're eligible for either of these options at least eight weeks after your first dose of AstraZeneca.
On June 14, 2021, the province updated the second dose interval to as early as eight weeks for those who got a first dose of AstraZeneca. This is based on studies that show dosing intervals between eight and 12 weeks is safe and gives a beneficial immune response.
There is evidence that a longer interval between two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine (such as a 12-week interval) gives higher protection. However, some may choose to get their second dose sooner to have the increased protection that the second dose gives earlier.
We encourage you to speak with a health care professional for help understanding the options available so you can make an informed decision on your vaccination.
Choosing a second dose of AstraZeneca:
Completing your vaccination series with an mRNA vaccine:
If your first dose was the AstraZeneca, and you’d like to receive AstraZeneca as your second dose:
If your first dose was the AstraZeneca vaccine, and you’d like to receive an mRNA vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer) as your second dose:
Public Health plans to have both mRNA vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) based on vaccine availability. When possible, you will be offered the same vaccine that you got at your first dose appointment. If that mRNA vaccine is not readily available, another mRNA vaccine will be offered to complete the vaccine series.
This is based on guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization that says the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines can be safely interchanged. This means you can switch between Moderna and Pfizer safely if the original vaccine you got is not readily available.
Some people have found the concept of mixing vaccine brands confusing. Think of it like multiple companies producing bottled water. They have different labels, but are essentially the same product. When this happens with vaccines, it allows us to mix and match vaccine products if we need multiple doses of a vaccine.
It's important to know that:
Learn more about mixing vaccines for first and second doses. Watch Dr. Hirji's, Niagara's Medical Officer of Health (Acting), video on COVID-19 Vaccinations in Niagara FAQs: Is it safe to mix vaccines for first and second doses?
Side effects after your second dose can be similar to the ones you may have had after your first dose but they only last about one to three days. These symptoms typically mean that your body is building protection. If you don't get the second dose, you won't be fully protected from COVID-19.
If your first dose was AstraZeneca, you're getting an mRNA vaccine for your second dose:
In Ontario, most people who completed a series of a COVID-19 vaccine approved by Health Canada are not eligible for additional doses at this time. This includes:
Ontario announced that select populations at the highest-risk from COVID-19 are eligible for a third dose. Learn how eligible individuals can receive a third dose.
Health experts will continue to review data to determine if additional doses for the general population may be needed in the future.
Vaccination rates are not high enough globally or locally to protect unvaccinated individuals from COVID-19. Most COVID-19 infections are in unvaccinated people. Cases among fully vaccinated individuals are far less likely.
When you and your child get a COVID-19 vaccination, you're protecting yourselves from the risk of serious illness and death. You're also helping those who are unable to get vaccinated for medical reasons or children who are too young to receive the vaccine.
Health Canada approved vaccines have passed quality and safety standards and provide strong protection against COVID-19 and its variants.
Moderna and Pfizer are basically the same vaccine, made with the same technology. They are just made by different companies. You can be confident that you're getting protection from COVID-19 with both vaccines. Both vaccines will help you protect everybody around you as well.
Learn more from Dr. Hirji's video about Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
If you don't have an Ontario health card you can still get your vaccine at participating pharmacies. Your pharmacist will likely ask you for some type of identification and your birth date. Call your pharmacy if you're uncertain about what you need to bring to your appointment.
Public Health can help you book at our clinic if you don't have any identification:
Similar to other vaccines, some people may develop mild side effects
We have sacrificed so much this year to keep our loved ones and community safe. You can play a big role to fight COVID-19 by getting the vaccine when you can.
Yes, you should still get your vaccine when you're out of self-isolation and your symptoms are resolving. If you had COVID-19, you may have some immunity but we don't know how much or how long it may last.
As long as you're out of self-isolation and your symptoms are resolving, you can get your vaccine. If you had COVID-19, you may have some immunity but we don't know how much or how long it may last.
In Ontario, COVID-19 vaccines are voluntary. You're strongly encouraged to get vaccinated as we have all sacrificed so much this year to keep our loved ones and community safe. You can play a big role to fight COVID-19 by getting the vaccine when you can.
If you choose not to get vaccinated, your employer may require you to follow additional restrictions, such as wearing a mask or working from home.
By July 1, 2021, all staff working at long-term care homes in Ontario must do one of the following:
For more information, read Ontario Mandates Immunization Policies for Long-term Care Homes or speak with your employer.
COVID-19 can be a serious illness for anyone and for some people symptoms can last for months. The vaccine is safe and virtually eliminates the risk of serious illness and death. The benefits of vaccination outweigh any potential drawbacks.
All viruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19, mutate over time. A virus with one or more mutations is a variant. Some mutations can change the characteristics of a virus, such as how it spreads, making it a variant of concern. COVID-19 variants of concern include:
You can see Niagara's daily case count for these variants.
We're concerned about these variants because they:
All variants may increase the risk of re-infection for people who already had COVID-19.
All Health Canada approved vaccines provide strong protection against COVID-19 and its variants, including the Delta variant.
Vaccine reactions are rare. Risks of a serious reaction from a vaccine are minor compared to getting the actual disease. If you're concerned about an adverse event after your vaccine, learn how to report adverse events.
For more details, visit reported side effects following COVID-19 vaccination in Canada.
We know you want to be sure that COVID-19 vaccines are safe. To help you decide if the vaccine is right for you, watch Dr Hirji's video where he answers questions about safety of the vaccines.
We've sacrificed so much this year to keep our loved ones and community safe. You can play a big role to fight COVID-19 by getting the vaccine when you can.
There is no COVID-19 virus in the vaccine. The vaccines teach your immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19.
Some people may develop mild side symptom such as fever. These symptoms typically mean the vaccine is working to produce protection. It usually takes the body a few weeks to build immunity after receiving a vaccine.
You can become infected with the virus before or right after getting the vaccine. This happens because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection in your body.
From the science and history of vaccines, there is no evidence of long-term effects.
Vaccines introduce proteins from a dangerous germ to the body’s immune system. In this way, the body can learn to identify and fight those germs off. Within a couple of weeks, no traces of the vaccine are left in the body. This is because the immune system destroys the proteins. Any other elements of the germ are quickly broken down.
Like any medication or supplement (including vitamins), there’s a chance that there will be a serious side effect. These are rare, but they do happen. When it does, it's usually in the short term when the vaccine is stimulating the immune system. Learn about how Canada makes sure vaccines are safe for you and your family.
It's far more likely that mRNA vaccines will be like other vaccines. Here's what you need to know about mRNA vaccines:
The vaccine doesn't change your DNA in any way.
The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA are kept. This means the mRNA doesn't affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Instead, COVID-19 vaccines that use mRNA work with the body's natural defences to safely develop protection (immunity) to disease.
People with stable health conditions can get vaccinated. Conditions include: diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, respiratory diseases, including asthma or COPD, hepatitis B, C and HIV.
People with a weak immune system because of illness, treatment or an autoimmune condition:
People taking medication that make their immune system weak may be able to schedule their vaccine and treatment to get the best protection.
Watch family physician, Dr. Dec, talk about the importance of people who have a health condition getting vaccinated.
The rapid development was made possible by decades of advances in vaccine technology. Specific research into coronaviruses gave a head start to developing a COVID-19 vaccine. Watch COVID-19: How vaccines are developed.
Yes. You can get vaccinated at any time during your pregnancy. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization preferentially recommends that a complete vaccine series with an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine be offered to pregnant individuals.
The risk of infection and death from COVID-19 outweighs any risk of being vaccinated during pregnancy. During the third wave we just experienced, people who were pregnant were at high risk of being hospitalized with COVID-19.
Adding to this concern:
While not required, it's best to speak with your health care provider to help you decide if the vaccine is right for you. This is particularly important because early clinical trials didn't include participants who were pregnant. However, small numbers of individuals in the trials were found to be pregnant after vaccination. These pregnant individuals haven't reported adverse events to date and continue to be followed. Clinical trials are ongoing and some manufacturers have started new trials that include pregnant individuals. As more evidence becomes available, vaccine recommendations will be reviewed and updated.video message for pregnant individuals in multiple languages.
Yes. You can get any of Canada's approved COVID-19 vaccines when you're breastfeeding. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization preferentially recommends that a complete vaccine series with an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine be offered to breastfeeding individuals.Recent data shows that mRNA from vaccines don't transfer into breast milk. Anti-COVID-19 antibodies produced by the breastfeeding person have been shown to transfer through the milk and provide protection to the infant. The vaccines are safe for the breastfeeding person.
No. According to the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, there is no evidence or reason to suspect that the COVID-19 vaccine could impair male or female fertility.
While the proteins syncytin-1 (used for placental implantation) and the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein have several similar amino acids, they remain vastly different. The antibodies produced against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein will not block syncitin-1.
The concern around fertility seems to have started as a random internet rumour that has taken off. Some people who voice this concern speak of “fertility research” around this vaccine. However, no such research exists. This is all driven by rumor on the Internet.
Unfortunately, during the third wave we just experienced, people who were pregnant were at high risk of being hospitalized with COVID-19. If anything, those planning to become pregnant soon are at greater need to be vaccinated than others.
For accurate and evidence-based advice, visit the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada. Check the reliability of any online news before sharing.
Most people who had a reaction to a prior vaccine can safely receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Check with your doctor or health care provider if you have had a serious allergic reaction to a vaccine in the past. They will look at your medical records and advise you accordingly.
Yes. If you have allergies that are not related to any components of the COVID-19 vaccine, you can still be vaccinated.
People who have had a serious allergic reaction, such as anaphylaxis, to a component of the COVID-19 vaccine cannot receive the vaccine. Others who have had a less serious, but immediate allergic reaction, should see their health care provider for guidance.
Viral vector vaccine
AstraZeneca is a second dose option only for those who received it as a first dose and are 40 years of age or older. However, you cannot get AstraZeneca as a second dose if you have:
See "My first dose was AstraZeneca. What will happen with my second dose?" in the second dose section.
Heart inflammation (myocarditis and/or pericarditis) after receiving an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is rare. These reports are being investigated to determine if they're directly related to mRNA vaccination.
It's important to know that this condition is rare, usually mild, easily treated, and individuals tend to recover quickly. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization continues to strongly recommend that a complete series with an mRNA vaccine be offered to all eligible individuals 12 years of age and older who do not have contraindications. Based off safety and effectiveness data, Ontario also recommends all youth born in 2009 (turning 12 years old before the end of 2021) get vaccinated.
When it does happen, it seems to be:
If you experience symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or the feeling of a fast, pounding or fluttering heartbeat, seek immediate medical attention.
Speak to your health care provider if you have questions about getting an mRNA vaccine or if you did experience the symptoms above after receiving your first dose. As a precaution, National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that individuals who experienced heart inflammation after a first dose of an mRNA vaccine should wait to get their second dose until more information is available.
If your child was born in 2009 or earlier, they can get vaccinated against COVID-19. Learn about the locations and schedule for clinics in Niagara.
Ontario expanded vaccine eligibility so that all youth born in 2009 can get vaccinated. For example, youth turning 12 years old before the end of 2021. Ontario reviewed data from Alberta and British Columbia to make this decision. These provinces have been safely giving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to all youth born in 2009 for several months. There have been no risks identified.
No. If you've had another type of vaccine, such as the shingles vaccine, you should wait 14 days before you get the COVID-19 vaccine, unless directed by your health care provider.
Our COVID-19 vaccination clinics have protocols in place to keep you safe from COVID-19. All health care providers, staff, volunteers and clients will be expected to follow all public health measures in the clinic.
Your appointment will take about 45 to 60 minutes.
The following transit operators are providing free rides to and from your COVID-19 vaccination appointment:
Use free transit to get your COVID-19 vaccination. Let the driver know which clinic you're going to.
Rides can be for one of the 11 vaccination sites operated by Niagara Region, the clinic operated by Niagara Health at Seymour-Hannah, or any site for COVID-19 vaccinations accessible by public transit.
If you're taking a taxi or getting a ride with a friend or neighbour:
If you need resources in languages other than English or French to prepare for your vaccine appointment, visit Ministry of Health COVID-19 documents in other languages.
It takes 14 days to start getting immunity from your vaccine. After that time, your risk of getting COVID-19 is much lower. If you do get COVID-19, the vaccine can prevent severe illness and death.
Learn more from Dr. Hirji about what to expect after your first dose. You are fully vaccinated 14 days after receiving the full series of a vaccine authorized in Canada.
You still need to follow local public health advice in public settings, such as workplaces and public transit. Their advice still considers community risk levels.
If you're at risk of more severe disease or outcomes, masking and physical distancing provide additional layers of protection that further reduce your risk in all settings. Your risk is always lower when outside.
There is no COVID-19 virus in the vaccine, so there is no way for you to spread COVID-19 as a result of getting vaccinated. The vaccine teaches your immune system how to make one protein of the virus so your body can recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19 if you're exposed.
It takes 14 days to start getting immunity from your vaccine. You can become infected with the virus before or right after getting the vaccine. This happens because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection in your body.
If you have received a COVID-19 vaccination outside of Ontario, report your vaccination using the online form.
If you have a second dose appointment at one of our vaccination clinics, you may also bring proof of vaccination from your first dose with you. Our clinic staff will enter out of province vaccine records into the system.
Make sure to still keep your original proof of vaccination in a safe place.
The health care professional performing your COVID-19 vaccination will provide you with a client record. Keep this important handout with your own immunization records and let your health care provider know you were immunized.
If you received your COVID-19 vaccine in Ontario and have a green health card, you can get a copy of your COVID-19 vaccination receipt using the online Provincial booking system. After you log in with your health card number, you will receive an option to book an appointment or get a copy of your COVID-19 vaccination receipt.
If you have a red and white health card, call the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900 to request a copy of your COVID-19 vaccination receipt.
No. After receiving any COVID-19 vaccine (dose one or dose two), you need to wait 28 days before you get any other vaccine, unless directed by your health care provider.
Currently, countries are developing their own travel related approaches and the final decision will be up to each individual country which vaccines and combinations they recognize.The province is working with the federal, provincial and territorial leaders to ensure we have a consistent approach to how we reopen the border safely.
Shedding is the idea that when you're infected with a germ, you release that germ out into the world. For example, you might cough out a cold virus. This is what enables an infection to spread to others. To shed a germ, though, you need to be infected.Most vaccines are not giving you an infection, and so you don't shed virus when vaccinated. This includes COVID-19 vaccine. With the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, you’re injected with the instructions to make one particular protein of the virus. These instructions cannot make the full virus, so there is no way for your body to create and shed the virus. This also explains why you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.