COVID-19 Vaccine

Families of children 6 months to 5 years can book appointments for the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine with their family doctor, local pharmacy or at Regional vaccination clinics.

Bivalent boosters are available for those 18+ at various clinic locations including Cambridge Pinebush.

You can book an appointment at a Regional vaccination clinic through the Provincial COVID-19 Vaccination Portal, or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY for people who are deaf, hearing-impaired or speech-impaired: 1-866-797-0007). Walk-ins at the Regional Vaccination Clinics are accepted as capacity allows.

Please call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre to book an appointment if you are experiencing difficulties when booking it online.

Updated: September 29, 2022

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COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

Vaccine Distribution Summary

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COVID-19 Vaccines for Children

About the COVID-19 vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines authorized by Health Canada are safe, reliable, and can help protect you, your family, and our community from COVID-19. All of the COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada are highly effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death due to COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccination:

  • Works with your immune system to help protect you from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19
  • Is a safe and effective way to help build protection against the virus
  • Will help build community protection, stopping the spread of the virus in our community
  • Is voluntary, but strongly encouraged

There is a chance that you may still get COVID-19 from another person after being vaccinated so it is important that we continue to follow public health measures such as physical distancing, wearing a mask, and staying home if you are sick. Health care workers and other staff must still wear personal protective equipment (PPE) even after they have been vaccinated.

Vaccine side effects are being monitored as people receive the vaccine. If you get a reaction to the vaccine, contact your health care provider who will report the side effect directly to Public Health. Public Health will keep track of the reported side effects to make sure the vaccines continue to be safe.

COVID-19 vaccines may be co-administered with, or at any time before or after, non-COVID-19 vaccines (e.g. flu vaccine) with informed consent.

Authorized COVID-19 vaccines in Canada

Health Canada has conducted thorough and independent reviews and authorized the following vaccines for use in Canada:

Find additional information about the authorized COVID-19 vaccines on the Government of Canada website and the Ministry of Health COVID-19 Vaccine Information Sheet.

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

How does the vaccine work?

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine uses a method called messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. The mRNA in the vaccine tells the body’s cells to make "spike proteins," similar to what is found on the COVID-19 virus. The immune system responds to the spike proteins by making antibodies, which will protect against COVID-19 infection in the future. These new antibodies will break down the COVID-19 spike proteins and get rid of them. The mRNA is broken down by the body shortly after injection and cannot affect the body’s DNA. mRNA vaccines are not live vaccines and cannot cause infection.

How is the vaccine administered?

Two doses of the vaccine are required for full protection, given up to 16 weeks apart. The vaccine is given by injection into the muscle of the arm. 

What are the potential side effects?

Some people may experience side effects from the vaccine, but they will likely be moderate and resolve after a few days. Some of the symptoms are part of the body’s response to developing immunity to a virus.

Common side effects that have been reported in clinical trials for this vaccine include:

Very common ≥10% (more than 1 in 10 doses)

  • Pain at the injection site
  • Headache
  • Feeling tired
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Fever or chills

Common 1%-10% (1 in 100 to 1 in 10 doses)

  • Redness and swelling at the injection site

Uncommon 1% (1 in 100 doses)

  • Enlarged lymph nodes

In rare cases, serious allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) can occur. Allergic reactions can be treated and are usually temporary. Vaccine side effects will continue to be monitored as people receive the vaccine. If you get a reaction to the vaccine, contact your health care provider who will report the side effect directly to Public Health. Public health will keep track of the reported side effects to make sure the vaccine continues to be safe. 

If you get a reaction to the vaccine, contact your health care provider who will report the side effect directly to Public Health. Public health will keep track of the reported side effects to make sure the vaccine continues to be safe. 

Pericarditis/Myocarditis
  • Rare cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining around the heart) following vaccination with COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have been reported in Canada and internationally.
  • Symptoms of myocarditis/pericarditis can include shortness of breath, chest pain, or the feeling of a rapid or abnormal heart rhythm. Symptoms can be accompanied by abnormal test results (e.g., electrocardiogram, serum troponins, echocardiogram).
  • International cases are consistently reported to have occurred:
    • More often after the second dose
    • Usually within a week after vaccination
    • More often in adolescents and young adults (12 to 30 years of age)
    • More often in males than females.
  • The reporting rate for the Moderna vaccine was 6.6 per million doses administered following first dose and 28.2 per million doses administered following second dose, for all age groups and genders combined.
  • Most cases appear to be mild and respond well to conservative treatment (e.g. non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and rest.
  • COVID-19 vaccines continue to be recommended and are highly effective at preventing symptomatic infection and severe outcomes from COVID-19 disease, which is also associated with a risk of myocarditis. 
Who should get this vaccine?

The vaccine is approved for people who are 12 years of age and older who do not have any contraindications.

Do not get a COVID-19 vaccine if you:

  • Have a fever, are sick with COVID-19 symptoms, currently have COVID-19 or have been instructed to self-isolate.
  • Have an allergy to an ingredient in the vaccine or have had a previous severe reaction to this vaccine.

Visit Health Canada’s vaccine webpage (Pfizer-BioNTech) for a list of vaccine ingredients.

Learn more about COVID-19 Vaccines for Children.

Paediatric Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

The clinical trials of the Paediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine showed that the vaccine was 90.7% effective at preventing COVID-19 in children 5 to 11 years of age and no serious side effects were identified. Health Canada has determined that the benefits of this vaccine for children between 5 and 11 years of age outweigh the risks and has authorized a lower dose that is safe and effective at protecting this age group from COVID-19 and the Delta variant.

With Health Canada’s approval of the Paediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in November, children aged 5 to 11 are now eligible to book their appointment to receive the vaccine. For more information check our COVID-19 Vaccine for Children page.

Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

How does the vaccine work?

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine uses a method called messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. The mRNA in the vaccine tells the body’s cells to make "spike proteins," similar to what is found on the COVID-19 virus. The immune system responds to the spike proteins by making antibodies, which will protect against COVID-19 infection in the future. These new antibodies will break down the COVID-19 spike proteins and get rid of them. The mRNA is broken down by the body shortly after injection and cannot affect the body’s DNA. mRNA vaccines are not live vaccines and cannot cause infection.

How is the vaccine administered?

Two doses of the vaccine are required for full protection, given up to 16 weeks apart. The vaccine is given by injection into the muscle of the arm. 

What are the potential side effects?

Health Canada reported that side effects that followed administration of the Moderna vaccine were mild or moderate and are common of many vaccines, including:

  • Pain at the site of injection
  • Body chills
  • Feeling tired
  • Feeling feverish

If you get a reaction to the vaccine, contact your health care provider who will report the side effect directly to Public Health. Public health will keep track of the reported side effects to make sure the vaccine continues to be safe. 

Pericarditis/Myocarditis
  • Rare cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining around the heart) following vaccination with COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have been reported in Canada and internationally.
  • Symptoms of myocarditis/pericarditis can include shortness of breath, chest pain, or the feeling of a rapid or abnormal heart rhythm. Symptoms can be accompanied by abnormal test results (e.g., electrocardiogram, serum troponins, echocardiogram).
  • International cases are consistently reported to have occurred:
    • More often after the second dose
    • Usually within a week after vaccination
    • More often in adolescents and young adults (12 to 30 years of age)
    • More often in males than females.
  • The reporting rate for the Moderna vaccine was 6.6 per million doses administered following first dose and 28.2 per million doses administered following second dose, for all age groups and genders combined.
  • Most cases appear to be mild and respond well to conservative treatment (e.g. non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and rest.
  • COVID-19 vaccines continue to be recommended and are highly effective at preventing symptomatic infection and severe outcomes from COVID-19 disease, which is also associated with a risk of myocarditis. 

Effective September 29, 2021, Pfizer-BioNTech is recommended for 12-24 year olds due to an observed increase in Ontario of pericarditis/myocarditis following vaccination with Moderna compared to Pfizer in the 18 to 24 year old age group, particularly among males.

Who should get this vaccine?

The vaccine is approved by Health Canada for people who are 12 years of age and older who do not have any contraindications.

In Ontario, the Ministry of Health recommends Moderna for people who are 25 years of age and older and who do not have any contraindications. Pfizer-BioNTech is recommended for 12-24 year olds. This recommendation is due to an observed increase in Ontario of pericarditis/myocarditis following vaccination with Moderna compared to Pfizer in the 18 to 24 year old age group, particularly among males.

Should individuals aged 18 to 24-year old wish to receive Moderna they can continue to do so with informed consent.

Do not get a COVID-19 vaccine if you:

  • Have a fever, are sick with COVID-19 symptoms, currently have COVID-19 or have been instructed to self-isolate.
  • Have an allergy to an ingredient in the vaccine or have had a previous severe reaction to this vaccine.

Visit Health Canada’s vaccine webpage (Moderna) for a list of vaccine ingredients. 

Paediatric Moderna (Spikevax) COVID-19 vaccine

The clinical trial of Spikevax showed that the immune response in children 6 months to 5 years of age was comparable to that seen in people 18 to 25 years of age from a previous study. Efficacy was assessed when Omicron was the predominant variant of COVID-19 circulating in the U.S. and Canada. The vaccine was well tolerated and no safety signals were identified from the trial.

With Health Canada’s approval of the Paediatric Spikevax, children 6 months - 5 years of age are now eligible to receive the vaccine. For more information check our COVID-19 Vaccine for Children page.

Moderna Spikevax Bivalent COVID-19 vaccine

How does the vaccine work? 

This 50 mcg formulation contains equal parts (25 mcg each) of mRNA encoding for the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and the Omicron BA.1 variant. When administered as a second booster dose, Moderna Spikevax Bivalent (50 mcg) elicited higher neutralizing antibody responses against the original strain, Omicron BA.1 and Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 among individuals with and without prior infection when compared to a second booster dose of Moderna Spikevax original (50 mcg). 

This effect was consistent across age groups studied, in individuals 18-65 years of age and individuals >65 years of age.

For more information please visit the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and Government of Canada Recommendations 

How is the vaccine administered? 
INDICATIONS SPIKEVAX Bivalent (elasomeran/imelasomeran) Original/Omicron mRNA vaccine is indicated as a booster dose for active immunization against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus in individuals 18 years of age and older. 
What are the potential side effects? 

The frequency of adverse events following Moderna Spikevax Bivalent (50 mcg) given as a second booster dose was similar or lower compared to that of a first booster dose of Moderna Spikevax original (50 mcg), and of the second dose of the Moderna Spikevax original primary series (100 mcg). There were no vaccine-related cases of myocarditis, pericarditis or deaths reported during the study period.

Available surveillance data to date from Canada and international jurisdictions indicate that the risk of myocarditis and/or pericarditis following a first booster dose of an original mRNA COVID-19 vaccine using manufacturer-authorized booster dosage appears to be lower than the risk following the second dose of the primary series. In addition, preliminary safety data indicate that the risk of myocarditis and/or pericarditis associated with a second booster dose of an original mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is lower than the risk following the second dose of the primary series.

Pericarditis/Myocarditis 
Very rare cases of myocarditis and/or pericarditis following vaccination with SPIKEVAX have been reported during post-authorization use. These cases occurred more commonly after the second dose and in adolescents and young adults. Typically, the onset of symptoms has been within a few days following receipt of SPIKEVAX. Available short-term follow-up data suggest that the symptoms resolve in most individuals, but information on long-term sequelae is lacking. The decision to administer SPIKEVAX to an individual with a history of myocarditis or pericarditis should take into account the individual’s clinical circumstances. 
Who should get this vaccine? 

This vaccine has been approved for the following groups for as long as it's been six months since their last dose:

  • Residents of congregate living settings
  • Individuals 70 years of age and older
  • Individuals who are pregnant and are 18+ years old
  • Individuals aged 12 and older who are immunocompromised
  • First Nations, Métis and Inuit people and members of their household who are 18 and older
  • Health care workers who provide direct care, including first responders 18+ years old

To receive Novavax COVID-19 vaccine, please speak to your primary health care provider or local pharmacy to explore available options and eligibility criteria. Please note that Public Health vaccine clinics do not administer these products.

Please use the Ontario pharmacy locator tool to find local pharmacies.

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Precautions

Before your vaccination appointment, review the following statements and follow the directions.

I am currently pregnant or breast/chestfeeding

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends that if a risk assessment with a health care provider deems that the benefits outweigh the potential risks, and if informed consent includes discussion about the absence of evidence on the use of COVID-19 vaccine then a complete series of COVID-19 vaccine may be offered to individuals who are pregnant or breast/chestfeeding. 

I am immunocompromised

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends that if a risk assessment with a health care provider deems that the benefits outweigh the potential risks, and if informed consent includes discussion about the absence of evidence on the use of COVID-19 vaccine then a complete series of COVID-19 vaccine may be offered to individuals who are immunosuppressed due to disease or treatment or suffering from an autoimmune disorder.

I have had an allergic reaction to a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients in any of the available COVID-19 vaccines (e.g. polyethylene glycol [PEG]).

Individuals who have had a severe allergic reaction or a suspected allergic reaction within 4 hours of receiving a previous dose of COVID-19 vaccine should be referred to an allergist/immunologist for consultation and to discuss options for future vaccinations.

If this applies to you, you will not be able to receive COVID-19 vaccination at a mass immunization clinic. Please contact 519-575-4400 to cancel your scheduled appointment.

I have had an allergic reaction within 4 hours and/or anaphylaxis that occurred with a different vaccine or injectable medication that does not contain a component of COVID-19 vaccine.

Please contact your treating health care provider to have a discussion about COVID-19 vaccination. Your health care provider may refer you to an allergist/immunologist for consultation. After this consultation you may decide:

  • To receive the vaccine. At your appointment, you will be asked for documentation from your health care provider indicating that it is safe to receive the vaccine and if any specific conditions apply. You will be asked to wait 30 minutes after vaccination to monitor for adverse effects
  • Not to receive the vaccine. Please contact 519-575-4400 to cancel your scheduled appointment.

I have had an allergic reaction to a food, drug, venom, latex or other allergen not related to COVID-19 vaccine OR I have allergic rhinitis (e.g. seasonal allergies), asthma or eczema.

You may receive COVID-19 vaccination but will be asked to wait 30 minutes after vaccination to monitor for adverse effects. No documentation or consultation with your health care provider is required.
I am receiving anticoagulant therapy (blood thinners) or I have a bleeding disorder.

You may receive COVID-19 vaccination if your condition/treatment is under control and you are able to receive injections or have blood work. 

After immunization, you will be asked to apply firm pressure to the injection site for 5-10 minutes.

If you are not able to receive injections or have blood work, please contact 519-575-4400 to cancel your scheduled appointment and consult with your health care provider about options for vaccination.

How can I get a vaccine? 

Anyone who is six months or older is eligible to get a vaccine.

The Province of Ontario is working with the pharmacy sector to offer vaccinations at select pharmacy locations in Waterloo Region. Contact a participating pharmacy near you to book an appointment. 

Select primary care providers are offering vaccines to their patients. If your primary care provider is offering vaccines, you will need to book an appointment directly with them. 

Medical exemption 

The Ontario Ministry of Health requires all Public Health units to upload medical exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine database, COVAX, for the purposes of obtaining a QR code and receipt. 

If you believe you are eligible for a medical exemption, you must get an assessment by an Ontario physician or registered nurse in the extended class.

Your primary care physician, specialist or  registered nurse must fax a Medical Exemption Forms or letter that documents the medical exemption on your behalf to 519-883-2248.

The exemption must clearly indicate the reason why the individual cannot be vaccinated against COVID-19 as per the Ministry of Health Exemption Guidance. 

Protect yourself and others through vaccination

Evidence suggests that the vaccines reduce the spread of COVID-19, either by preventing infection or by reducing the number of COVID-19 cases.

The spread of the virus will slow down or stop when a large percentage of the population becomes immune to COVID-19. This is known as herd immunity. Experts do not know what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19. 

This is why is important that you continue to follow public health measures after you are vaccinated:

  • Only have close contact with your household members, or one other household, exclusively, if you live alone
  • Avoid indoor gatherings, visit with other households outdoors
  • Practice physical distancing
  • Wear a face covering
  • Wash your hands often with warm water and soap or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid enclosed, poorly ventilated spaces and crowded places

If you develop any symptoms stay home, isolate from household members and schedule an appointment for testing.

Volunteer at a clinic 

Volunteers support many of the Region's programs and services. This adds to the quality of life for all citizens and strengthens our community.

Nearly 2,500 volunteers contribute to services in areas such as museums, libraries, working with seniors and children, and supporting special events. The Waterloo Region Vaccine Distribution Task Force has also recruited COVID-19 Immunization Clinic volunteers.

What do COVID-19 Immunization Clinic volunteers do?

Volunteers provide assistance to the Region of Waterloo in the delivery of COVID-19 immunization clinics. 

How do I apply?

The response from our community has been truly inspiring. Due to the level of interest, we are no longer accepting applications at this time. If you would like to be contacted about volunteer opportunities that may become available at a later date, please leave us your contact information.

For other volunteer opportunities available in our community, check out the Volunteer Waterloo Region.

Information for current volunteers

Current immunization clinic volunteers can log in to the Regional Volunteers' portal to view their schedules and register for shifts.

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