COVID-19 Vaccine and Clinic Frequently Asked Questions

 

Who is eligible?

Everyone aged six months and older is eligible to receive a primary series of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Booster Dose Eligibility

  • Infants and children aged six months to five years are not currently eligible to receive a booster dose.
  • Anyone five years and older who has completed a primary series can receive a booster dose at a recommended six months (minimum of three months) since their last dose of COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of the number of booster doses previously received.
    • Children aged five to eleven are eligible for a booster dose of Monovalent Pediatric Pfizer
    • Individuals twelve to seventeen are recommended to receive a Pfizer Bivalent booster dose.
    • Individuals age eighteen and older are recommended to receive a bivalent booster dose of either Moderna Bivalent or Pfizer Bivalent COVID-19 vaccine.

 

Book Appointment

 

Select pharmacies offer COVID-19 vaccination appointments for those who are eligible. Find out more about participating pharmacies and how to make an appointment here:

Find a Pharmacy

Select primary care providers will be administering the COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals who are interested in booking their COVID-19 vaccine appointment with their primary care provider should contact their primary care provider to confirm that they are offering COVID-19 vaccines. Participating primary care providers will use their own appointment booking systems, not the provincial portal.

 

The Grey Bruce Health Unit is holding COVID-19 vaccine clinics in communities throughout Grey-Bruce. We've compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and GBHU clinics. Click on the buttons below to view the answers to each of these questions.

 

 

Where can I see a schedule of upcoming COVID-19 vaccine clinics in Grey-Bruce?

The Grey Bruce Health Unit maintains an up-to-date, online schedule of upcoming COVID-19 vaccination clinics, which you can view at this link.

What time do Grey Bruce Health Unit COVID-19 vaccination clinics open to the public?

All of our COVID-19 vaccine clinics begin at 10 a.m. sharp. We ask that clients wait until this time before entering facilities where our clinics are being held, even if the doors to the facility is unlocked.

This ensures our staff and volunteers have a sufficient amount of time to properly set up the clinic space for the day.

We thank you in advance for respecting this request.

Are face masks required at Grey Bruce Health Unit COVID-19 vaccine clinics?

Masking is no longer mandatory at Grey Bruce Health Unit vaccine clinics. However, clients are still encouraged to wear a mask.

The Grey Bruce Health Unit recommends that all staff and volunteers at our vaccine clinics wear a mask, but this is also no longer a requirement.

Decisions related to masking are based on updated, evidence-based practice and scientific recommendations, including those set out in Public Health Ontario’s Interim IPAC Measures and COVID-19 Transmission Risks in Health Care Settings technical brief, published in April 2022, and the Ontario College of Family Physicians’ IPAC Guidance for Community Practices During COVID-19, updated in June 2022.

A vaccine clinic is a controlled environment and a low-risk setting. The Grey Bruce Health Unit has solid Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) measures in place to ensure the safety of staff and clients in vaccine clinic settings.

All people entering the clinic (clients, volunteers, and staff) are required to answer COVID-19 screening questions. Individuals are not permitted to enter the clinic if they have failed the screening.

Staff and volunteers wear masks based on a point-of-care risk assessment.

What should youths know about their upcoming COVID-19 vaccine appointment?

The Ministry of Health has developed the following guidance document to assist youth with preparing for their COVID-19 vaccination.

Why should I get vaccinated against COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic is not over and the virus continues to circulate and evolve.

The BA.5 sub-variant of Omicron is now the dominant variant circulating in Ontario and globally.

BA.5 is highly transmissible; more so than earlier sub-lineages of Omicron. And, like other variants, BA.5 can cause severe illness or death in some individuals, including those considered higher risk.

Vaccination remains your best defence against severe outcomes from COVID-19.

Evidence shows that COVID-19 vaccines used in Canada are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death as a result of the virus.

Vaccination is also the most effective way to protect your community, including members at highest risk of severe outcomes and individuals who are unable to receive the vaccine.

The Grey Bruce Health Unit recommends that all eligible residents get up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccinations as soon as possible.

In most cases, this means receiving booster doses, as protection after a primary vaccine series decreases over time, especially against Omicron and its sub-variants, like BA.5.

Combining vaccination with other layers of protection – such as wearing a mask while indoors and when social distancing is not possible, staying home when sick, cleaning your hands and following respiratory etiquette – will help to further reduce the spread of the virus.

Are booster doses really necessary?

Protection provided by a primary series of authorized COVID-19 vaccines can wane over time, making booster doses key in the fight against COVID-19.

As the name suggests, booster doses “boost” a person’s protection by activating an immune response to restore protection that may have declined over time.

In fact, booster doses can improve protection against severe outcomes by up to 90 per cent.

Visit Public Health's Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccine page for more information on booster doses, including eligibility

What is the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine and when can I get it?

COVID-19 Bivalent Boosters Infographic

Health Canada-approved, Omicron-targetting bivalent COVID-19 vaccines are available in Ontario as a booster dose, meaning eligible individuals can receive it only after completing their primary vaccine series.

Bivalent vaccines are an updated version of the COVID-19 vaccine as they target two strains of COVID-19 – the original virus and the Omicron variant, currently the dominant variant circulating in Ontario.

Bivalent vaccines are formulated to better protect against the currently circulating COVID-19 variants. They can also help to restore protection that has decreased since previous vaccination.

Health Canada authorized the first bivalent COVID-19 vaccine – Moderna Spikevax – on Sept. 1, 2022, as a booster dose for adults aged 18 and older.

The 50 mcg formulation contains equal parts of mRNA encoding for the original SARS-CoV-2 virus from 2019 as well as the Omicron BA.1 variant. It has been shown to provide greater protection against the original strain of COVID-19, Omicron BA.1, and Omicron BA.4 and BA.5.

As of Sept. 26, 2022, all Ontarians aged 18 and over are eligible to receive a booster dose of the Moderna Spikevax bivalent COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of the number of booster doses previously received.

On Oct. 2, 2022, Health Canada authorized a second bivalent COVID-19 vaccine – an updated version of the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine – as a booster dose for individuals aged 12 and over.

This vaccine, which targets the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, is expected to trigger a strong immune response against both the original SARS-CoV-2 strain as well as the Omicron BA.4/BA.5 subvariants.

As of Oct. 17, 2022, all Ontarians aged 12 and over are eligible to receive the Pfizer bivalent vaccine as a booster dose if they have completed their primary COVID-19 vaccine series.

In order to receive a bivalent booster, eligible individuals must be a minimum of three months (recommended six months) since their last COVID-19 booster or primary series completion, and a minimum of three months post-COVID-19 infection.

Individuals at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness are recommended to get a bivalent booster dose after the minimum three-month interval and after consultation with their health care provider. This includes those who are:

  • aged 65 and older;
  • a First Nations, Inuit and Métis individual or a non-Indigenous household member, aged 18 and older;
  • a resident of a long-term care home, retirement home or Elder Care Lodge;
  • an individual living in other congregate settings that provide assisted living and health services;
  • individuals aged 12 and over with an underlying medical condition that places them at high risk of severe COVID-19;
    • For adolescents 12-17 years of age with moderately to severely immunocompromising conditions and/or who have biological or social risk factors that place them at high risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19, a booster dose of the bivalent Moderna COVID-19 vaccine may be offered off-label based on clinical discretion;
  • pregnant, aged 18 and older; and
  • health care workers, aged 18 and older.
Bivalent by the numbers infographic

Do I still need to get vaccinated if I’ve already had COVID-19?

Yes. Public Health recommends that all individuals stay up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccinations even if they have recently had the virus.

A past coronavirus infection does not make you immune to COVID-19 and you can still become ill from COVID-19 and contagious to others.

Studies in adults show that vaccination following infection provides stronger and longer-lasting protection.

If you have had COVID-19 recently, Public Health recommends waiting up to six months before receiving the next dose of a vaccine.

I’m concerned about the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. What should I do?

The truth is, probable side effects from a COVID-19 vaccine are predictable and well-documented and are often mild and manageable and subside within a few hours to a few days after receiving a vaccine.

The same cannot be said of a COVID-19 infection.

COVID-19 infections can range from asymptomatic to severe – the severity is different for each person.

After receiving a vaccine, you may experience soreness or swelling at the injection site, tiredness, a headache, muscle and joint pain, chills or a mild fever. In most cases, these side effects are signs that your body is building immunity to COVID-19.

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?

Absolutely. Health Canada has one of the most rigorous scientific review systems in the world and only approves a vaccine if it is safe, works, and meets the highest manufacturing and quality standards. Only vaccines that Health Canada has approved are administered in Ontario.

Authorized COVID-19 vaccines were developed faster than other vaccines because of the never-before-seen levels of collaboration and funding invested in this effort around the world. Researchers have also been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for more than 10 years, which is why the mRNA technology was able to be utilized quickly to develop the COVID-19 vaccine. While COVID-19 vaccines were developed rapidly, all steps were taken to make sure they are safe and effective.

The Pediatricians of Ontario's Pediatrics Section, OMA COVID-19 Working Group, has developed the following resource about the safety of approved COVID-19 vaccines for children; Is the COVID-19 Vaccine Safe for Kids.

Vaccine Safety sheet

It's common and normal to have minor, temporary side effects after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. For more information about Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine safety and side effects, please visit the link below:

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19/vaccines/safety-side-effects.html

Why should my young child be vaccinated against COVID-19?

On July 14, 2022, Health Canada approved the first COVID-19 vaccine for children aged six months to five years.

For this age group, NACI recommends that a primary series of two doses of Moderna Spikevax (25 mcg) be offered to children who do not have contraindications to the vaccine. The recommended dosing interval between first and second doses is at least eight weeks.

Vaccinating children in this age group is the preferred and safest method to provide additional protection against COVID-19.

It also provides further protection to the child’s family members, including those who are at risk for more severe illness.

In clinical trials, children were monitored up to 103 days after receiving their first dose of vaccine and no safety signals were identified.

The benefits of getting vaccinated and being protected against COVID-19 far outweigh the risks of any side effects from the vaccine.

The Grey Bruce Health Unit has developed a two-page “Parent’s Guide” document on COVID-19 vaccination for children. It provides answers to several questions, including “Why should my child be vaccinated against COVID-19?” and “What are the potential side effects of the vaccine for children?” It also includes information on recommended vaccinations for each age group.

A COVID-19 infection may cause longer-lasting symptoms and health problems for some people, including children, which is why it’s important for children to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

My child is four years old and received Moderna (25 mcg) for her first dose. She will be due for her second dose at age 5. Should she receive Moderna or Pfizer for the second dose as I see Pfizer is recommended for children aged five to 11?

Should I be concerned about a new wave of COVID-19 this fall and what should I do to prepare for it?

The National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI) says Canada could experience an increase in COVID-19 activity in late fall and winter as people spend more time together indoors. It’s also possible that we could see new variants emerge this fall and winter.

NACI released guidance in late June to assist provinces and territories with planning COVID-19 booster dose programs in advance of a potential fall wave of the virus. NACI developed this guidance after reviewing the current epidemiology of COVID-19 in Canada, duration of protection offered by vaccines and potential new vaccine formulations.

NACI’s recommendations for fall booster doses focuses on populations at increased risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.

NACI says these individuals should be offered a fall booster regardless of how many boosters they have already received.

Individuals at higher risk from COVID-19 infection include adults 65 years of age and older, residents of long-term care facilities, individuals aged 12 and over with certain underlying medical conditions and First Nations, Metis and Inuit adults.

NACI says all other individuals aged 12 to 64 may also be offered a booster dose this fall regardless of how many boosters they have already received.

More Information

 

Grey Bruce COVID-19 Vaccine Experience Survey

If you have received a COVID-19 vaccination in Grey Bruce, please use this short survey to tell us about your experience. Your feedback is important to us. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GBC19VFB

 

 

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