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COVID-19 Protection & Vaccines

Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Local Call Centre Reopening September 27

New Option to Submit Out of Province COVID-19 Vaccination Records

Local COVID-19 Vaccine Status Report – October 12, 2021

The vaccine status report will be updated every Tuesday.

Statistics

  • Of the region’s population 12 years of age and over, 96.9% have first doses (96.6% last week), and 92.5% have second doses (91.3% last week) (as of October 10, 2021).
  • 995 first doses were administered last week as well as 1072 second doses
  • In youth 12–17, 88.9% have first doses and 70.9% have second doses.
  • In ages 18–29, 80.7% have first doses and 74% have second doses.
    • We encourage those 18–29 to check out the options for getting vaccinated below.
  • Our vaccination dashboard has all the details and will be updated again next Tuesday, October 19.

Vaccine Clinics

  • On Friday, October 8, the provincial call centre started their Unrostered-Unvaccinated Contact Centre Reach Out by calling over 7000 people (registered with a health care provider in our area) that are showing as having no doses. If you are contacted, check out our clinics to book an appointment or find a walk in clinic.
  • A number of clinics are available still in various communities: check our website for the up to date times and dates and if walk-ins are accepted.
  • Our local Call Centre has started operations again. The 1-844-369-1234 line will be open Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm, and will provide support for residents who wish to book an appointment for COVID-19 vaccine, and residents who require support to access their COVID-19 vaccine receipt.
  • Check a participating pharmacy for availability as well.

Vaccine Certificate

Who is Eligible for a Vaccine

Third dose boosters are now recommended for those who are most vulnerable. This includes:

  • Residents of Long-Term Care Homes (LTCH), Retirement Homes (RH), Elder Care Lodges, and elderly living in other congregate settings. These boosters are provided on-site at least 5 months after the second dose.
  • Very immunosuppressed individuals can access their third dose through their health care provider a minimum of 28 days, but preferably 2 months after their second dose. If unable to access it from a health care provider, the Health Unit can provide it at a clinic but the individual must first call us at 1-800-660-5853 to register on the third dose list and verify eligibility. You can also check with a pharmacy to see if they can provide it. Here is the list of those eligible due to immunosuppression:
    • Individuals receiving active treatment (e.g., chemotherapy, targeted therapies, immunotherapy) for solid tumour or hematologic malignancies.
    • Recipients of solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy
    • Recipients of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T-cell therapy or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (within 2 years of transplantation or taking immunosuppression therapy).
    • Individuals with moderate to severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome).
    • Individuals with stage 3 or advanced untreated HIV infection and those with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.
    • Individuals receiving active treatment with the following categories of immunosuppressive therapies: anti-B cell therapies2 (monoclonal antibodies targeting CD19, CD20 and CD22), high-dose systemic corticosteroids (refer to the CIG for suggested definition of high dose steroids), alkylating agents, antimetabolites, or tumor-necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors and other biologic agents that are significantly immunosuppressive.

For further details, including more detailed lists of immunosuppressive medications, see this document from the Ministry of Health on COVID-19 Vaccine Third Dose Recommendations.

How to Get a Vaccine

*NOTE: Third dose boosters for those who are eligible are ONLY available at our clinics if you are registered on our third dose list. If you meet the eligibility criteria for a third dose, and are unable to access it through your health care provider, you can call 1-800-660-5853 to verify your eligibility and add your name to the third dose list. Third doses may be available at pharmacies – check directly with the pharmacy to inquire.

Booked Appointments

  • Use the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark online booking portal
  • If you are unable to book on the portal – you can call our local Vaccine Call Centre at 1-844-369-1234 Monday to Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm.
  • If you had an appointment booked in September or later at one of our fixed site clinics – it will be cancelled and you can either rebook through the portal link above or just walk in to any Leeds, Grenville and Lanark vaccine clinic instead to receive your vaccine sooner. You may have received an email or phone call from us about the cancellation and how to access another appointment.

Walk-in Appointments

Pharmacy

  • Check for a participating pharmacy near you. Pharmacies may have either Pfizer or Moderna and offer first and second doses to 12+ (born in 2009 or earlier) and third doses to those who are eligible for them.
  • Pharmacies are working with the Province to continue to provide COVID-19 vaccines to the community. These vaccinations are separate from our Health Unit’s vaccination roll-out. Please call the pharmacy directly to book.

If You Received AstraZeneca

  • Ontario has paused giving first doses of the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine. The province is proceeding with second dose administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine for those who want it. The risk for blood clots with second doses is significantly lower – 1/600,000. If you received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, you can choose to get a second dose of AstraZeneca through a participating pharmacy or health care provider, or complete your vaccine series with an mRNA vaccine like Moderna or Pfizer. Second doses are given 8–12 weeks after the first dose regardless of which second dose you choose. Maximum protection is at 12 weeks, but individuals can opt to receive it as early as 8 weeks, with informed consent, in order to be more fully protected sooner. Second doses of mRNA can be booked at either a participating pharmacy, health care provider (if available) or Public Health Clinic (starting June 7, 2021). See this document for further information: Ontario Update on AstraZeneca Guidance

Health Unit clinics use mRNA vaccines – either Pfizer or Moderna for people aged 12+ depending on availability of the vaccine. The province recommends Pfizer for age 12 to 24. These mRNA vaccines are interchangeable and include the same active ingredient. Our clinics now have ample supplies of both Pfizer and Moderna. If the same brand as your first dose is not available at the clinic you attend, then you will be offered the alternate mRNA vaccine. We will help you rebook if you still wish to wait and receive the same brand as your first dose for the second dose.

Ask friends or if they have had their vaccine or booked an appointment. Please consider helping these individuals to book their appointments, as some may not have online access or be comfortable booking online appointments.

For those who are not mobile, the Health Unit, in partnership with the Lanark County Paramedic Service and the Leeds and Grenville Emergency Medical Services can arrange for in home COVID-19 vaccine administration. If you are not mobile and need a referral to this community paramedicine program, you can contact your case manager, health care provider or the Health Unit (1-800-660-5853).

For those who are mobile – but need assistance with transportation, community partners are offering safe, non-shared, transportation to and from vaccine appointments. Fees are based on distance traveled with subsidies available if needed.

Leeds and Grenville

New! Public transit service to popular employment areas from Brockville to Cardinal along County Road 2. 
Run times: 8:30am-4:30pm Monday to Friday
Areas Served: Brockville, Augusta, Prescott and Edwardsburgh Cardinal
Tickets: Can be purchased ahead of time or when boarding the bus (exact change only). One way $5, Book of 10 tickets $20.
For further details and to see where to purchase tickets go to https://riverroute.ca/tickets/

For Leeds/Grenville: call United Way of Leeds & Grenville at 613-342-8889 or email [email protected]

Lanark County and Smiths Falls

For Lanark County and Smiths Falls – see the options below:

Lanark County Transportation Services to COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments

*Please note:

  • only members of the same household will be transported together in a vehicle
  • hours of operation may be adjusted depending on vaccine clinic hours

Lanark Transportation Association
Contact: 1-877-445-5777 or 613-264-8256
Criteria: No restrictions, Wheelchair accessible vehicles
Areas Served: Lanark County, Town of Smiths Falls, Neighbouring municipalities when accessible transportation is required.
Hours of Operation: 6:00am–6:00pm, 7 days a week
Price: $10.00–$15.00, Subsidy may be available upon request.

Carebridge
Contact: Lisa Ryan, 613-256-1031 extension 262
Criteria: Seniors and Disabled persons able to get in and out of a vehicle, Wheelchair transport available.
Areas Served: Almonte, Carleton Place
Hours of Operation: 8:00am–4:00pm, Monday to Friday
Price: $8.00–$20.00, Wheelchair transport $30.00–$45.00, Subsidy may be available upon request.

Community Home Support Lanark County
Contact: 613-267-6400
Criteria: Seniors and disabled adults requiring minimal assistance (cane, walker, etc.,) and able to get in and out of a vehicle, No wheelchairs, Services may change as vaccine rollout moves forward.
Areas Served: Perth, Smiths Falls, Lanark, Carleton Place
Hours of Operation: 8:30am–4:00pm, 7 days a week
Price: $10.00–$54.00, Subsidy may be available upon request.

Proof of Vaccinations

*NEW* The Health Unit is now offering an online portal to submit documentation for COVID-19 vaccines received outside of Ontario.

Who Does This Apply To

  • You can document individual COVID-19 vaccines or a full series received outside of Ontario through this online portal.
  • Some people vaccinated in Ontario received vaccine from what is referred to as non-Ontario stock. Generally these doses were delivered at institutions such as correctional facilities, military sites or embassies. People who received one or two doses of vaccine from the non-Ontario stock may also document them through this online portal.

What Do I Need To Complete This Process

  • You will be required to submit proof of vaccination. If you do not have proof of vaccination, please contact the health care provider who gave you the COVID-19 vaccine(s) to receive a copy of your vaccination record.
  • You will also be required to provide a phone number and/or email address where we can reach you to inform you that your records have been documented in the Provincial system.

Can I still mail or drop off my proof of vaccination?

  • Alternatively, you can send the following information to the Health Unit by mail, or drop it off in the mail slot at any Health Unit office location (locations listed at bottom of linked webpage):
    • A copy of your vaccine receipt/ proof of vaccination (must be legible)
      AND
    • Your full name as per your Health Card, Health Card number, Date of birth, Full address, Phone number, Email address (if you have one) and Gender.
    • A completed copy of the Consent Form. If the consent form is not received we will contact you to obtain verbal consent.
    • All the above information is needed in order to enter this into the provincial system.
      Mail to: The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit
      Attention: Vaccine Team
      458 Laurier Boulevard
      Brockville, Ontario K6V 7A3

Looking for your “Proof of Vaccine”? If you provided an email address when you received your vaccine, your vaccination receipt (proof of vaccine) is emailed to you. Check your spam or junk folder if you do not see it. You can also access a digital copy by logging in with your Ontario Health Card at this website.

What if a person has a red or white health card or does not have health card? If a person has a red and white health card, they can call the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900. The call centre agent can email you a copy of your receipt.

No health card at all or still having trouble accessing your receipt of vaccine? Call our local Vaccine Call Centre at 1-844-369-1234 Monday to Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm. If you need help with printing – you can also ask your local public library.

For more information on providing Proof of Vaccination in certain indoor public settings – check out the tab above.

Other Vaccine Issues

Please read the information sheet and consent form prior to your appointment. If you are able to, print off and bring your completed COVID-19 Vaccine Screening and Consent Form to your COVID-19 vaccine appointment. It’s also helpful to bring your email booking confirmation to your appointment (printed version or on your phone).

It can be unsettling to hear about the changing landscape for rules around travel and vaccination status. But we are still early in the process and it will take some time for the regulatory bodies and governments to agree on a common requirement to facilitate international travel again. While some vaccine manufacturers are doing research on possible booster (third) doses of vaccine that may be needed, there is no evidence to suggest one is needed for the general population right now. Two doses of any of the vaccines provided in Ontario provide excellent protection against COVID-19 – including the variants of concern. For now – our goal must be to get as much of the population protected with both doses as possible. If you are worried about not being able to travel – hold tight, we are just emerging from this crisis and time will likely iron out these details. There are currently no vaccination requirements to travel to the US.

*NOTE* Third doses CANNOT be provided for purposes of travel. The Federal government is working on getting mixed dosing recognized. Stay tuned for updates.

Have you attended a Health Unit COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic? Visit our Feedback and Complaints page to share your feedback with us!

FULLY VACCINATED – means you are at least 14 days past your second dose.

It is still important for everyone to continue with public health measures like wearing a mask, physical distancing, and washing hands often. These public health measures will be important until we have more people fully vaccinated, and we can be sure that the spread of COVID-19 variants in particular is under control.

The research that was done with the new COVID-19 vaccines looked at whether or not symptoms were prevented by taking the vaccine, and they did a really good job. Ninety-five percent of people didn’t get sick with COVID-19. They didn’t measure whether the virus was actually prevented from multiplying in the back of your nose and throat.

What we know with 14 days after the second dose of the vaccine:

  • You may still be exposed to the Covid-19 virus depending on the level of spread in the community and close contact with others.
  • You will have very good protection against COVID-19 symptoms, serious illness, hospitalization and death if you become infected with the COVID-19 virus.
  • People who are immune compromised may not have the same level of protection as others.
  • You may still transmit the virus to others before your immune system removes the virus but the risk is lower.
  • You are not required to quarantine after returning to Canada, if the vaccine you received is one approved in Canada.
  • You are not required to self-isolate for 14 days after being exposed to someone with COVID-19 if you have no symptoms. You can return to work, school, activities.

We are also starting to see some changes in restrictions in settings like long-term care for fully vaccinated individuals.

What we recommend:

Always check for symptoms, and, if present, isolate and get tested. Regardless of vaccination status.

  • If you are in a public place – Follow provincial requirements in the Roadmap to Reopen Ontario – mask and distancing still required – not everyone has received two doses of the vaccine and are still at risk. Protection from the Delta variant really requires two doses for proper protection and is now the predominant strain that is in Ontario.
  • Social gatherings (follow gathering limits)
    • Decide if masking and physical distancing is needed based on who is going to be at the gathering and the setting (see guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada).
      Things to Consider:
      • Your personal risk and the risk of people you will be spending time with (do they have health conditions or take medications that could affect their immune system or make them more at risk of serious effects from COVID-19? have they been vaccinated? is everyone symptom free?)
      • The setting where you will be gathering (e.g. indoor or outdoor, good ventilation, lots of space between people) Outdoor activities are less risky than indoor
      • Activities you are engaging in. Is there more risk of close contact, or droplet spread in these activities?
      • Individuals who are older and have pre-existing medical conditions are at a greater risk of severe illness and may not get as much protection from vaccination as a younger person with no pre-existing medical conditions
      • Be mindful of community spread of COVID-19 and the presence of the Delta variant in the community Local COVID-19 surveillance data and if people are traveling from an area where there are a lot of cases/outbreaks.
  • It’s important to re-assess your risk level and comfort level as your situation changes
  • Things are not the same for everyone, everywhere so make the decision that is right for you, and treat others with kindness

The Health Unit’s COVID-19 Distribution and Administration Roll Out Plan identifies the approximate times when people in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark can receive the vaccine. This plan aligns with the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

Watch this video of Local Medical Officers of Health and Physicians Answering Questions About the COVID-19 Vaccines.

COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet

There are 4 great reasons to get vaccinated:

  1. To avoid getting seriously ill with a potentially deadly disease. (reasoning-can still get sick but vaccine prevents serious illness)
  2. To protect all the vulnerable people in your life.
  3. To help end this pandemic. The vaccine adds an incredibly important layer of protection against COVID-19 and will be the main reason we return to some sense of normalcy.
  4. If you are fully vaccinated (14 days past your second dose) and not experiencing any symptoms, you do not have to isolate if you are a high risk contact of a positive case.

We are still learning about the long term effects of this novel (new) virus. For some people, symptoms can last for months. The virus can even damage the heart, brain, lungs and increase the risk of long-term health problems. Even young, healthy people can feel unwell for weeks to months following the COVID-19 infection.

The mild short-term side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are far less than the risk and potential long-term health damages caused by the COVID-19 virus.

Do I need a second dose?

Yes, the first dose builds protection from the virus but may provide less protection against some strains and may not last long. People have been re-infected with COVID-19 3-6 months after first infection, and the first vaccine may be similar to this. The second dose builds your immunity higher for a longer time. A second dose is very important to protect against the new Delta Variant in particular as one dose will not provide adequate protection.

Ontario is now recommending that those who are the most vulnerable to severe disease from COVID-19 as well as those with significant immunosuppression receive a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine to boost their immune response.

This includes:

  • Residents of Long-Term Care Homes (LTCH), Retirement Homes (RH),  Elder Care Lodges, and elderly living in other congregate settings. These boosters are provided on-site at least 5 months after the second dose.
  • Very immunosuppressed individuals can access their third dose through their health care provider a minimum of 28 days, but preferably 2 months after their second dose. If unable to access it from a health care provider, the Health Unit can provide it at a clinic but the individual must first call us at 1-800-660-5853 to register on the third dose list and verify eligibility. You can also check with a pharmacy to see if they can provide it. Here is the list of those eligible due to immunosuppression:
    • Individuals receiving active treatment (e.g., chemotherapy, targeted therapies, immunotherapy) for solid tumour or hematologic malignancies.
    • Recipients of solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy
    • Recipients of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T-cell therapy or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (within 2 years of transplantation or taking immunosuppression therapy).
    • Individuals with moderate to severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome).
    • Individuals with stage 3 or advanced untreated HIV infection and those with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.
    • Individuals receiving active treatment with the following categories of immunosuppressive therapies: anti-B cell therapies2 (monoclonal antibodies targeting CD19, CD20 and CD22), high-dose systemic corticosteroids (refer to the CIG for suggested definition of high dose steroids), alkylating agents, antimetabolites, or tumor-necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors and other biologic agents that are significantly immunosuppressive.

For further details, including more detailed lists of immunosuppressive medications, see this document from the Ministry of Health on COVID-19 Vaccine Third Dose Recommendations.

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are messenger-RNA vaccines, also called mRNA vaccines. mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. While this technology is new to vaccines it has been used for many years in Cancer treatment. The mRNA teaches our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that can then trigger an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response produces antibodies that protect us from getting infected if the real virus ever enters our bodies.

This mRNA has no ability to enter our cell’s nucleus (where our DNA is stored) – so there is no danger of it altering our DNA. There is also NO danger of us getting COVID-19 from the vaccine since it is only the code to build a tiny piece of the virus – not the whole thing.

No. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines do not affect, interact or alter DNA in any way. Our DNA resides in the nucleus of our cells and the mRNA does not travel into the nucleus. Therefore, there is no risk of altering DNA. It uses the body’s natural defense response which breaks down and gets rid of the mRNA after it is finished using the harmless genetic instructions. 

The nucleus is an area deep inside each of our cells, and that’s where our DNA is kept. mRNA does its work way out in the periphery of the cell, away from the nucleus. When we are injected with this vaccine; and the viral mRNA enters our cells, it doesn’t go anywhere near our nucleus—doesn’t go anywhere near our DNA, and it cannot get integrated into our own DNA or our own genome: it’s just not possible.

Health Canada – mRNA vaccines

Vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to protect you and those around you from serious illnesses like COVID-19.

Creating a new vaccine can take years. However, the development of vaccines for COVID-19 is progressing quickly for many reasons, including:

  • advances in science and technology
  • international collaboration among scientists, health professionals, researchers, industry and governments
  • increased dedicated funding
  • access to large samples of people who could participate in the studies.

Vaccines that are approved for use in Canada are only those that are proven safe, effective, and of high quality. The reason that the COVID-19 vaccines were approved quickly is not because safety standards were changed, it’s because Health Canada shortened the administrative and organizational process of vaccine authorization through much quicker meetings between different steps, as well as parallel steps all at the same time. So, for example, instead of waiting a month between different steps, they waited a day or days between the different steps. The safety requirements in clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines were just as strict as the regular process for any other vaccine.

Provincial Pause in First Doses of AstraZeneca Vaccine

From Dr. David Williams: “Effective today, May 11, 2021, Ontario will be pausing the rollout and administration of first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine at this time…. This decision was made out of an abundance of caution due to an observed increase in the rare blood clotting condition, known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine. Data from the UK points to a much-reduced risk of VITT in second doses of AstraZeneca, and we look forward to providing more guidance in advance of people’s needing to receive their second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The decision to pause is also based on the increased and reliable supply of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines and the downward trend in cases. We are also seeing early promising results of administering two doses of different vaccines and have asked the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) to provide direction on the interchangeability of COVID-19 vaccines. Based on the much higher risks of COVID-19 infection recently observed in Ontario including hospitalization, serious illness and death, we maintain that those who received their first dose with the AstraZeneca vaccine did absolutely the right thing to prevent illness, and to protect their families, loved ones and communities.”

As of June 3, 2021 – Ontario has now approved mixing vaccine doses based on new NACI guidance

What this means in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark?

  • About 13,000 residents received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine from March to early May. This vaccine was available to people and provided protection when the supply of Pfizer and Moderna was reduced.
  • We are receiving a good supply of both Pfizer and Moderna vaccine now so there isn’t as much need for AstraZeneca.
  • Everyone who received AstraZeneca will be able to get a second dose of a vaccine. Check our website and social media for more information as it becomes available from the Province. See the section on Second Doses above on this webpage for information on how to book a second dose of either the AstraZeneca vaccine for those who choose it or an mRNA vaccine to complete the series. 

Most of the current vaccines are provided in 2 doses by a needle in the upper arm. NACI and the Province of Ontario have approved mixing brands of COVID-19 vaccine. Both mRNA vaccine brands (Moderna and Pfizer) contain the same active ingredient and trigger the immune response in the same way.

Updates to dose intervals can be found in the Second Doses section at the top of this page.

The immunizer should be wearing eye protection and a medical grade mask. The person receiving the immunization should be wearing a mask (can be non-medical/cloth).

Gloves are not usually recommended for this, but may be worn in some situations by the person giving the immunization, for instance if they have any broken skin, or if their workplace policy requires it (like paramedics, who have a policy that goes beyond this measure as generally they work in less predictable circumstances).

For more detailed information:

Yes, currently experts believe the vaccine will work effectively against the new strains (e.g., Variants of Concern, VOC’s)

  • The Alpha variant is one that has been more prevalent and there is a good protection after one dose, even better after two.
  • the Delta variant which is of particular concern, needs two doses for very good protection.

No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines contain any live COVID-19 virus. They either use mRNA (instructions to build one specific piece of the virus) or bits of inactive, degraded virus that are not capable of causing a COVID-19 infection.

If you experience any symptoms after receiving the vaccine – they are caused by your immune system turning ‘on’ in order to make antibodies against the virus. This way it will already be prepared with tailored weapons to fight the infection in case the COVID-19 virus enters your body.

Yes, for now. To be cautious, we will need to continue testing until more evidence is available on length of immunity. The immune response can be less reliable in the elderly, so even though they may be vaccinated, we need to be very cautious around this vulnerable population.

No. However, most of the ingredients are not associated with severe allergic reactions. The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain eggs, gelatin, preservatives or antibiotics.

People with allergies to the following vaccine ingredients should not take this vaccine.

  • Polyethylene glycol—or PEG. This is found in bowel preparations for colonoscopies, some laxatives, over-the-counter cough syrups, cosmetics, skin care products, and some food and drinks. An allergy to this is rare and most people are aware if they are allergic to it.
  • Polysorbate – due to potential cross-reactive hypersensitivity with the vaccine ingredient PEG.

If you are unsure of the ingredients you are allergic to or you have had a reaction to a vaccine in the past, talk to your health care provider.

People with allergic reactions to other vaccines and medicines can, in fact, get the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, only those individuals with a history of severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine itself, or its container, are not advised to receive the COVID-19 vaccine because of the potential for allergic reactions. That would probably amount to a very small number of people. If you have concerns consult your family physician prior to receiving the vaccine.

People with a history of anaphylaxis (severe allergic responses) to non-vaccine ingredients, like foods or latex, can receive the vaccine, but they would be monitored for a longer period on-site after receiving it.

There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines affect fertility, and no plausible biologic mechanism for it to do so either. Thousands of people have gone on to have healthy post-vaccine pregnancies. There are studies that show that the vaccine does not affect ovarian function, egg quality, embryo implantation or sperm count/quality.

Additional resources:

Pregnant people are at increased risk for COVID-19 complications, including risk of hospitalization, ICU admission and death. Although pregnant people were not purposely included in the initial trials of the COVID-19 vaccines, many became pregnant during the trials and thousands have received the vaccine during pregnancy since then. The vaccine is safe for any stage of pregnancy. While the vaccine components do not cross the placenta or into breast milk – the antibodies that the immune system makes do and can give the baby some passive immunity to COVID-19. Experts recommend getting the COVID-19 vaccine at any stage of pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Here is the statement from the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada on COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy.

Here are some additional resources:

Like all vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccines can cause side effects. Most of the side effects that followed vaccine administration in clinical trials were mild or moderate. They included pain at the injection site, body chills, and feeling tired and feeling feverish. Many of these are indications that your body’s immune system is doing its job by creating antibodies to prepare for fighting the virus if it enters your body in the future. These are common side effects of vaccines and do not pose a risk to health.

As with all vaccines, there’s a chance that there will be a serious side effect such as an allergic reaction, but these are rare. Report any unusual symptoms after receiving the vaccine to your health care provider. Unusual symptoms may include:

  • A high fever (greater than 40°C).
  • An allergic reaction (rash, hives, itching, throat swelling, difficulty swallowing/breathing).
  • Severe vomiting, diarrhea and/or headache.
  • Reactions that are severe or require visit to a doctor or hospitalization.
  • Reactions that do not go away after a few days.

There is a very rare risk of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle and/or pericarditis (inflammation of the lining around the heart) following immunization with an mRNA vaccine. Research to date has found that most cases are mild and resolve on their own or can be treated with anti-inflammatory medication.

You should seek immediate medical attention if you develop symptoms, which may include chest pain, shortness of breath, or the feeling of a fast, pounding or fluttering heartbeat. Cases typically occur within a week after the receipt of an mRNA vaccine dose, more commonly after a second dose. Any potential cases should be investigated with medical assessment regardless of timing from vaccination to onset.

If a person develops an adverse reaction to a vaccine, what should they do?

People who receive the vaccine are monitored for at least 15 minutes on-site for adverse reactions. If you have a history of allergic reactions to vaccines or other things like food or latex, you will be monitored for a longer period of time.

If you have any unusual symptoms after the vaccine – please report them directly to your health care provider. Health care providers are going to report these to Public Health so they can be tracked by Health Canada and the vaccine manufacturers, and potentially used to adjust any guidance.

Managing Health Care Workers with Symptoms within 48 Hours of Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine

Health Canada is closely monitoring the risk of myocarditis and pericarditis from the vaccines. According to available research, the risk of myocarditis and pericarditis from the vaccine is very low, and if it occurs, appears to be mostly mild and resolves in a few days. Out of an abundance of caution – Ontario is recommending Pfizer for ages 12–24 due to the slightly higher risk of myocarditis and pericarditis with Moderna. Second doses are crucial to provide adequate protection as a single dose only provides 33% protection from the Delta variant, while 2 doses provides 88% protection. The risks of contracting COVID-19 and the consequences are still much higher than the risk of myocarditis or pericarditis from the vaccine.

No. The type of test the labs use (PCR test) to detect COVID-19 is not looking for antibodies – but rather the whole COVID-19 virus, so there is zero chance that it will pick up antibodies and show a positive. In future, if we get to the point that we’re starting to do more antibody testing of people, then it may pick up the antibodies that your body has developed. But, for now, the two are totally different so you don’t need to worry about getting a positive COVID-19 test because you’ve been immunized.

You should defer your vaccine if you have a fever as your immune system is already activated and you may not get maximum benefit from the vaccine.

If you have any mild symptoms that could potentially be from COVID-19, please defer your appointment until you feel well as we don’t want to expose others at a vaccination clinic.

If you are taking immunosuppressant medication, speak to your healthcare provider first to see if there may be any recommendations specific to this prior to receiving your vaccine.

Yes. Thrombosis Canada encourages patients on anticoagulation to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Find more details on thrombosis and COVID-19 on the Thrombosis Canada website.

Were people of different races and ethnicities included in the clinical trials?

Yes, people of different races and ethnicities were included in the clinical trials. Approximately 42 percent of global participants and 30 percent of US participants had racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds, and about 41 percent of global and trial sites were located in six different countries including: USA, Germany, Turkey, South Africa, Brazil, and Argentina. Based on this, the scientific community is fairly certain that it is quite effective across a variety of different ethnicities.

And were there people of different age groups, like older adults, included in the clinical trials?

Yes, about 41 percent of global and 45 percent of US participants were 56 to 85 years of age. The observed efficacy in adults over 65 years of age was over 94 percent. This is a very high efficacy in a vulnerable population. Unfortunately, no one under 16 years of age was included and, therefore, at this current time, is not advised for children or teens under 16 to receive the vaccine. However, there are ongoing studies and trials looking at younger age groups.

Yes. Getting the vaccination will enhance any current level of immunity you may have from experiencing the illness. We don’t currently know how long natural immunity lasts, so making your immune response more reliable by getting vaccinated is a good thing. Currently guidelines say you can receive the vaccine as soon as you are done isolation and are no longer infectious, when symptoms have cleared.

Yes. COVID-19 vaccines may be given at the same time as, or any time before or after, other vaccines. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has updated their guidance on this.

Herd immunity is a term used to describe when enough people have protection—either from previous infection or vaccination—that it is unlikely a virus or bacteria can spread and cause disease throughout the population. As a result, on average, the whole population within the community is protected even if some people don’t have any protection themselves. However, isolated or short chains of transmission could still occur. The percentage of people who need to have protection in order to achieve herd immunity varies by disease.

Experts do not know what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19. Early estimates for COVID-19 suggested it may be near 60 to 70%, but recently, high transmissibility of the new variants of concern have experts thinking it could be as high as 90% . While we learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue practicing public health measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

(See also: FAQ: Once a person is vaccinated with the series of two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, can they stop following public health measures like wearing a mask, physical distancing and self-isolating when they become sick?)

Anyone age 12+ who received a first dose of Pfizer or Moderna and is unable to get their second dose at the same location as the first, can book a second dose here. See booking information above for details on how to do this and what the interval should be.

AstraZeneca vaccine is not part of the Health Unit distribution plan at this time. Anyone who received their first dose of AstraZeneca that is asking about how to be booked in for a second dose will need to contact a local pharmacy or their local health care provider to see if they have it available for them.

No! This is misinformation. There is no metal in the vaccine. We already have iron in our blood and a substantial amount in our liver yet we don’t become magnetic from this. Also consider that many of the items people claim to stick to them are also not even magnetic (e.g., keys).

If something sticks to your skin it is likely sticking due to the flat smooth sticky surface so other smooth non-magnetic items will also stick (plastic, wood etc.). Put talc powder on your skin to break the stickiness and it will no longer stick as this is due to friction not magnetism.

Being healthy may help you to fight an infection but will not prevent you from getting COVID-19 or giving it to someone else. There have been very healthy people who have had very serious illness so being healthy is not a guarantee. Vitamins or supplements will not prevent you from getting COVID-19. Being vaccinated will enhance your immune system and protect you and your loved ones who may be more vulnerable.

General Information About COVID-19

COVID-19: COVID-19 is a unique strain of a large family of viruses (coronaviruses) that can cause respiratory diseases. There is a vaccine but it will take time for this to be available and distributed to everyone in the community. Check here regularly for updates on the vaccine.

The symptoms of COVID-19 can take up to 10 days to develop after exposure to the virus. Most people infected with COVID-19 have mild symptoms, such as low-grade fever and cough. Some people develop more severe symptoms, such as high-grade fever, breathing difficulties or shortness of breath. These symptoms are similar to those of influenza and other coronaviruses, and it is difficult to differentiate COVID-19 from other viruses based on symptoms alone. Call 911 or go directly to the nearest emergency department if you are experiencing severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, feeling confused or unsure of where you are or losing consciousness.

COVID-19, like other coronaviruses, causes infection in the nose, throat, and lungs, and can spread from person to person through respiratory droplets created when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, shouts, or talks. The droplets vary in size with large droplets that fall to the ground rapidly (within seconds or minutes, and within 2 metres) near the infected person, and smaller droplets, sometimes called aerosols, which linger in the air under some environmental circumstances, such as in a confined space with recirculated air. COVID-19 is frequently transmitted when people are in close contact with others who are infected by the virus (either with or without symptoms).

COVID-19 may be spread through touching hands or surfaces that have been contaminated by droplets from an infected person, e.g. through coughing or sneezing, and then touching the eyes, nose or mouth.

COVID-19 has an incubation period of up to 10 days. While symptoms usually develop in the first few days, it can take up to up to 10 days from the time you were exposed to the virus before you get symptoms of the disease. You become infectious, and can spread the virus to others, from about two days before symptoms develop until 10 days after symptoms start for people with mild to moderate symptoms. That is why it is important for all of us to practice physical distancing at all times to reduce the spread. See the Health Canada website for more information on how COVID-19 spreads.

What about ‘herd immunity’?

Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community (the herd) becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. As a result, the whole community becomes protected — not just those who are immune.  This can occur through immunization or mass exposure to a disease. 

COVID-19 is a new virus so we don’t know a lot yet about how long immunity will last after someone has become infected with virus. We do know that people do not develop long lasting immunity from the usual corona virus that causes a cold – you can be infected more than once over a winter with corona virus. We have only had the virus for 6 months so we can’t tell what long lasting immunity would be, possibly not very long. Studies are being done on this now to determine antibody levels in people who have had COVID-19.

COVID-19 Variants of Concern

At least three variants (mutations or new strains) of the SARS-CoV-2 virus have been identified around the world. The one first identified in the UK has been identified in several areas of Ontario. A change in the Strike (S) protein allows the virus to enter cells more easily which means symptoms developed earlier, within one or two days, and the virus is more easily spread from one person to another with close contact. Early analysis suggests it may also cause more severe disease. The new variant is similar enough to the existing one that existing vaccines are still effective with it. The Delta Variant – that is now the most common type of SARS-CoV-2 in Ontario – spreads more easily and can cause more serious illness due to its ability to multiply and enter our cells more quickly.

The Public Health Laboratory is able to do additional testing to identify if a new variant of the COVID-19 virus is present. Public Health will notify the lab if an individual meets criteria for additional testing. If the new variant is detected, then Public Health will use provincial guidelines for follow up.

All the current COVID-19 precautions are key to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, both the current virus and any variant that may come into our region. Given how easily the new COVID-19 variant spreads, avoiding close contact with others outside your household, with social gatherings and in the workplace, is critical.

You can get the latest local information from the Local Cases & Statistics section at right. We do not provide details about the positive cases as we have an obligation to protect the identity of individuals. As our communities within Leeds, Grenville and Lanark are relatively small, providing further details may put an individual’s identity at risk. Please be assured that a Public Health staff member actively follows up with all people who tested positive and investigate all people in close contact with individuals who test positive. See the Contact Tracing section for more information.

More information on COVID-19

Visit the Public Health Canada website for more detailed information on COVID-19 in general.

Protecting Yourself and Your Family

Because this virus spreads so easily, especially the variants of concern – we all need to do our part to slow and reduce the spread so we can end this pandemic. This means:

  • Get vaccinated
  • Limit the amount of people you are socializing with or sports teams you play on
  • Practice physical distancing – stay 2 meters (6 feet) away from people in public areas
  • Use a cloth face covering/mask if you cannot stay 6 feet away from people when out in public – and in indoor public spaces when with people outside your household.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer after being in touch with others or handling anything from outside your home
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or into your arm, not your hands
  • Do not share personal items that come into contact with saliva such as toothbrushes, eating utensils, drinks, water bottles, and towels
  • If you are experiencing any respiratory symptoms (including fever) – please self-isolate immediately and complete the online self-assessment.

COVID Alert App

Download COVID Alert, a made-in-Ontario, privacy-first app, that is available for free from the Apple and Google Play app stores. The more people who have the app, the more effective the province will be at stopping the spread of COVID-19. The app notifies Ontarians of the potential exposure to COVID-19 to help people protect themselves, their loved ones and community as we carefully reopen.

Some COVID Alert app facts:

  1. Downloading the app is VOLUNTARY
  2. It does NOT track your location with GPS. Instead it uses a Bluetooth signal to anonymously alert you if someone near you has tested positive without sharing any personal information.
  3. It can help by alerting you to someone who spent time in your vicinity who later tested positive for COVID-19.
  4. It does rely on others using it, that’s why it is only ONE additional way to protect yourself – and not the only thing we should be doing to stay #COVIDSmart
  5. The government or public health unit does not receive notifications – our contact tracing is done manually and not linked to this app at all. 

#WeBeforeMe #COVIDSmart

For more detailed information about stopping the spread of germs visit our Infectious Diseases section.

Flu virus is still circulating in the community. Consider making the flu shot part of your routine in the fall.

There are things you can do to prepare in case you or someone in your house becomes ill and are asked to self-isolate at home until the infection clears, or if you have close contact exposure with someone who has the COVID-19 infection.

  • Stock up on non-perishable foods gradually over the next few weeks.
  • Follow these tips for Personal Preparedness during Emergencies.
  • Prepare an emergency kit. Be prepared for two weeks should you become ill or are in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 infection and have to self-isolate at home.
  • Fill prescriptions for an extra month if you’re able.
    • Get refills with enough notice so that you do not run out of medication you may need.
    • Have over-the-counter pain/fever medications on hand.
  • Make plans for your children or other dependents in case you may be sick.
  • Stock up on supplies for your pets.
  • Stock up on cleaning supplies.
  • Ensure you have adequate sanitary and hygiene supplies.
  • Call your friends and neighbours and make plans to check in on each other; being prepared to help others out if there is a need to self-isolate.

Staying at home is not always safe. If you or someone you know is in danger at home from domestic abuse, you can contact Interval House.

If you are concerned about the safety and/or well-being of a child or youth under the age of 18 in Leeds, Grenville or Lanark, please contact Family and Children’s Services of LLG at 1-855-667-2726.

There are currently no reports of COVID-19 spreading from packaging. It is best to practice good hand hygiene (washing and sanitizer) after handling any packaging and before handling food.

If getting food or other items delivered – practice physical distancing and use no-contact ways to pay if possible (e-transfer, tap, etc.).

Fruits and vegetables should be washed before eating as before: rinse under cold, safe, running water, rubbing with hands; using a scrub brush if it is a tougher skin.

To limit trips to the grocery store, buy produce with a longer shelf-life (carrots, potatoes, squash, melons, frozen fruits and veggies) and stock up on items that don’t need refrigeration (like dried grains and canned goods). 

Current research suggests that the virus that causes COVID-19, can live for several hours on hard surfaces, so laundry machines, countertops, and furniture need to be sanitized frequently.

Health Canada has created a list of disinfectants that are safe and effective against the virus.

Although laundry from sick people should be kept bagged and separate while in your home to prevent accidental handling, there is no need to wash or dry these items separately.

Using Shared Laundry Facilities Fact Sheet

Doctors’ offices and hospitals are still open, so please seek health care when needed. Some services (like prescription refills) might be done over the phone or virtually, so always call ahead to see what the policies and procedures are for your health care provider. General health care is important to stay healthy and be best able to fight an infection if it occurs.

Pregnancy, Fertility and the COVID-19 Vaccines

All pregnant individuals in the authorized age group are eligible and recommended to be vaccinated as soon as possible, at any stage in pregnancy, as COVID-19 infection during pregnancy can be severe, and the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks. Vaccination may be considered at any gestational age, including the first trimester. While pregnant individuals were not included in Phase III trials for COVID-19 vaccines, real-world safety data for hundreds of thousands of pregnant individuals that have received COVID-19 vaccines are now available and did not reveal any safety signals.

Pregnancy is a known risk factor for COVID-19 associated morbidity, with data consistently illustrating that pregnant individuals are at increased risk for hospitalization, ICU admission, mechanical ventilation, and death compared to non-pregnant individuals. For many pregnant individuals in Canada, the risk of being unvaccinated and susceptible to COVID-19 is substantial.

Tools to support decision making can be found on the Ministry of Health’s website:

For additional information on the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada’s (SOGC) recommendations for the use of COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada during pregnancy, consult the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada Statement on COVID-19 Vaccination in Pregnancy.

See here for the SOGC statement on COVID-19 vaccination and fertility.

For additional information on the National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s (NACI) recommendations for the use of COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada during pregnancy, consult NACI’s Recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccines.

The Role of Your Local Pharmacy

As an essential service, your local pharmacy remains open with their professional staff available to support you and your medication needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since there is no vaccine or treatment, COVID-19 is managed at home in self-isolation with over-the-counter (OTC) medications that reduce fever and body aches. If you are ill, have gone for screening, screened positive and/or are experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19 (such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing), but require medication, please call your pharmacy and speak to them about options for obtaining your medication, such as getting someone from outside your household (who has not been in contact with you) to pick up your medication or arranging for delivery or curbside pickup. Please do NOT enter the pharmacy yourself.

Your pharmacist may also be able to help you if you are unable to attend an appointment with your prescriber and need refills of your medications, if you have questions about the supply status of your medications, if you need advice on minor ailments, if you need direction on where to go to use the province’s self-assessment tool or to find the latest information from Public Health on physical distancing, respiratory precautions, wearing a cotton mask when in public places, and regular cleaning of common hard surfaces.

As the health hub of many communities, your pharmacy team is always there to support you and the community with information, advice and to work hand in hand with your other medical practitioners towards your overall health and well-being. And some day hopefully soon, when specific treatments and a vaccine become available, your pharmacist will again be there to help you access them. We all need to work together and do our part to help stop others from becoming sick.

Sources for Information

Government of Canada. Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine: What you should know. Ottawa, ON: December 9, 2020.

Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 Vaccine product Monograph. December 2020.

The Ontario Ministry of Health’s website for healthcare providers now includes COVID-19 vaccine guidance documents. Documents are currently available in English and French.