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 Nov. 15
It's great that you got your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. You need to get a second dose to complete your vaccination series and be fully vaccinated. You're better protected with both doses. Data shows that those who are fully vaccinated are less likely to develop a COVID-19 infection than those who aren't. Learn about COVID-19 infection in vaccinated versus unvaccinated individuals on our monitoring statistics page.
The first dose of a two-dose vaccine series 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 optimal protection.
At this time, the province has made some groups eligible for a third dose or booster dose. Learn who is eligible for a third dose or booster dose and the required proof of eligibility.
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 get an mRNA vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer) as your second dose. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends an mRNA vaccine for a second dose due to emerging evidence including the possibility of better immune response and the safety of mixing vaccine brands for first and second doses. This will count as a completed COVID-19 vaccination series.
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.
Completing your vaccination series with an mRNA vaccine:
If your first dose was the AstraZeneca vaccine, and you’d like to receive an mRNA vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer) as your second dose:
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.
After completing a vaccination series, there has been some evidence to suggest that the protection from the vaccine may decrease over time for certain populations. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has looked at current data to determine if there is a need for third doses or booster doses.
A booster dose could help restore and maintain protection against infection in certain populations. Studies suggest that a booster dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is safe and produces a very good immune response that is generally higher than the immune response after the primary series. To provide an extra layer of protection, Ontario has expanded eligibility for booster doses. Learn who is eligible for a third dose or booster dose and the required proof of eligibility.
The two terms are not interchangeable. Those in need of a third dose or booster dose have different eligibility criteria. Learn who is eligible for a third dose or booster dose and the required proof of eligibility.
If you meet the Ministry of Health eligibility for a booster dose, after having received one AstraZeneca and one mRNA, you may receive an mRNA booster dose six months after your second dose. Learn who is eligible for a third dose or booster dose and the required proof of eligibility.
The province has indicated that in early 2022, they'll expand eligibility for booster doses based on age and risk, with an interval of six to eight months from the second dose.
Ontario announced that select populations are eligible for a third dose. Learn who is eligible for a third dose or booster dose and the required proof of eligibility.
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:
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. Public Health plans to have both mRNA vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) at our clinics based on vaccine availability.
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.
If you don’t have a health card you can also receive your vaccine at a Public Health clinic. Walk in to one of our clinics or contact Public Health to book at a clinic if you don't have a health card.
Similar to other vaccines, some people may develop mild side effects
You can play a big role to fight COVID-19 by getting the vaccine.
Yes, you should still get your vaccine once 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.
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.
Watch Dr. Hirji speak about how well the vaccine is working.
Visit our monitoring statistics page to see the risk of COVID-19 infection in Niagara among unvaccinated people compared to fully vaccinated people, and people vaccinated with one dose compared to fully vaccinated people.
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 have experienced 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 answer questions about vaccine safety.
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.
Vaccine side effects usually happen within a few days, and always within six weeks. Vaccines are quickly broken down and removed from your body, and so cannot cause side effects many months or years later. The only lasting impact of vaccination is the training it provides your immune system.
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 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 should also be vaccinated. However, they may receive lower protection from the vaccine.
Watch family physician, Dr. Dec, talk about the importance of people who have a health condition getting vaccinated.
Certain immunocompromised individuals are eligible for a third dose. Learn who is eligible for a third dose or booster dose and the required proof of eligibility.
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.
Both myocarditis and pericarditis are more common after COVID-19 illness (a viral infection) than after vaccination.
While there have been rare reports of myocarditis / pericarditis after vaccination, the majority of cases have been mild, easily treated and individuals recover quickly.
Learn more about myocarditis / pericarditis and COVID-19 vaccines.
Yes, you can receive your COVID-19 vaccine if you recently had another vaccination. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that COVID-19 vaccines may be given at the same time as, or any time before or after, other vaccines.
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.
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.
Breakthrough infections are when you test positive for COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated. Being fully vaccinated will make it far less likely that you will get COVID-19. If you still get infected, your vaccination will significantly reduce your chances of hospitalization or death.
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.
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.
If you lost a copy of your vaccination receipt, or would like to download a copy to your mobile device, visit proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
Currently, countries are developing their own travel restrictions and the final decision will be up to each individual country which vaccines and combinations they recognize.
Learn more about international travel and COVID-19.
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 the 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.