Join the COVID-19 Vaccine Program for Long-Term Care and Retirement Homes
The long-term care home and retirement homes are critical partners in the response to COVID-19. Residents of these institutions are vulnerable to severe illness and death from COVID-19. Efforts to keep COVID-19 out and to have vaccinations in these institutions are important for COVID-19 prevention and control.
- Must be a long-term care home or registered retirement home in Niagara
- Must commit to document vaccine administration in COVaxON
- Must have a designated vaccine fridge that meets the Ministry of Health vaccine storage and handling guidelines and has passed inspections by Niagara Region Public Health within the past 12 months
You can start administering the vaccine to eligible residents as soon as your long-term care home or registered retirement home is prepared to administer and store vaccine.
If you are an approved COVID-19 vaccination long-term care home or retirement home site, email a completed COVID-19 vaccine order form to COVID19vaccineorders@niagararegion.ca.
For COVax or inventory related help or information, email Niagara Region Public Health COVax Support Team.
For information on vaccine storage, ordering or administering, contact COVID-19 vaccine orders.
How to join
Step 1: Complete COVaxON training with Niagara Region Public Health
The mandatory training course is COVaxON Long-Term Care and Retirement Home Workflow Training. The training gives an overview of the COVaxON system made for what you as a long-term care or retirement home partner are responsible for within the system. The training is approximately one hour in length. There are live and recorded sessions available. Niagara Region Public Health also has job aids available to provide step-by-step instructions.
All staff who will be using COVax must be registered under the following profiles:
- Primary care practices vaccinator (client search, dose administration, adding extra dose / wastages)
To register and request training, email Niagara Region Public Health COVax Support Team and include the staff's first name, last name and work email.
Step 2: Familiarize yourself with the planning resources and COVID-19 vaccine-relevant information
The Ministry of Health has created many COVID-19 vaccine-relevant information and planning resources for long-term care homes and retirement homes, which include sections on general immunization documents for immunizers and patients.
COVID-19 vaccine information
- Vaccines for COVID-19: Authorized vaccines, including types of vaccines and on-going safety monitoring
- Moderna (Spikevax) COVID-19 vaccine product monograph
- Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) COVID-19 vaccine product monograph
- Moderna (Spikevax) COVID-19 Bivalent (BA.1) vaccine product monograph
- Pfizer-Biontech (Comirnaty) COVID-19 Bivalent (BA.4 / BA.5) vaccine product monograph
Step 3: Ensure your clinic meets requirements for COVID-19 vaccine facilities
Your clinic must adhere to provincial requirements for COVID-19 vaccine facilities.
- Public Health Ontario's infection prevention and control assessment for primary care, specialty and walk-in cinics during COVID-19 checklist provides guidance, support and resources
- Ensure that you have the appropriate personal protection equipment for safe clinic operations
Cold chain requirements
Your clinic must meet cold chain requirements to store the vaccine.
- The COVID-19 vaccines allocated to long-term care homes and retirement homes are fridge stable. Review the storage and handling guidance for COVID-19 vaccine. This includes guidance on how to physically transport the vaccine from Public Health Headquarters to your facility.
- Vaccine must be stored in a designated vaccine fridge that meets the Ministry of Health vaccine storage and handling guidelines and has passed inspection by Niagara Region Public Health within the past 12 months
- If you haven't had a fridge inspection and need to arrange one, call Public Health at 905-688-8248 ext. 7396
Vaccine transport and storage requirements
The COVID-19 vaccine product will be picked up in frozen state (from Public Health) and transported to your inspected vaccine fridge where it will thaw to fridge stable temperatures. Read about storage and handling guidance for COVID-19 vaccine. Once the product arrives at your clinic, it's not to be moved again. This includes bringing it to a satellite office.
A few important notes on the thawing of vaccine (also refer to the vaccine product monographs under step two):
- Vaccines can be thawed in two ways:
- In the monitored vaccine fridge overnight (between two and eight degrees celsius)
- At room temperature. This thawing method would be considered if vaccine is being administered the day of pick-up. It cannot be thawed overnight at room temperature.
- Only remove the vial(s) you will plan to use from the vaccine fridge when ready to administer vaccine. Leave the remaining vials in the fridge until ready to use.
Important things to know
- Vaccine picked up from Public Health will have a "use by" date that can be found on the vials and the top of every box of vaccine. This should be the only expiry date that is used. The actual vaccine expiry date is meant to be used for vaccine stored in low temperature freezers and thus does not apply.
- We recommend planning your clinic within two weeks of receiving your vaccine in order to allow for alternative arrangements to be made for that vaccine in the event of an outbreak at your long-term care home or retirement home
- Pfizer must be used within six hours and Moderna must be used within 24 hours after being punctured. You must document the time of the first puncture and discard time on each vial label provided.
- The number of punctures per Moderna Monovalent vial is capped at 20. No more than 20 doses should be pulled from a Moderna Monovalent vial.
Step 4: Submit an order request for vaccine for your home
The clinic readiness checklist must be complete to order COVID-19 vaccine. Verification of staff COVax training will happen before the pick up of vaccine.
Vaccine availability depends on how often and how much vaccine the Ministry provides to Niagara Region Public Health. This is to help ensure that COVID-19 vaccine is available to all offices that need it. Consider the following before placing an order:
- The number of residents at your home that are due for their next vaccine
- The number of staff at your home that are looking to receive their next vaccine
- The number of essential caregivers that are looking to receive their next vaccine
Once you have submitted your clinic readiness checklist and your home is an approved site, complete the COVID-19 vaccine order form and email to COVID19vaccineorders@niagararegion.ca.
Completed vaccine clinic
Following the completion of a vaccine clinic at your home, email Niagara Region Public Health COVax Support Team an end of day summary.
Reporting adverse events
- To support the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations across the province, the Ontario eConsult of Excellence, Public Health Ontario, the Ontario Medical Association, Ontario MD, Ontario Health and the Ministry of Health have created a COVID-19 Allergy / Immunology BASE™ Managed Specialty Group
- This eConsult service offers allergy advice related to the COVID-19 vaccine. To learn more or to register, visit the Ontario eConsult service.