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COVID-19 Protection & Vaccines

Local COVID-19 Vaccine Status

Update for January 18, 2021

The Health Unit’s COVID-19 Distribution and Administration Roll Out Plan helps facilitate the efficient and effective delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark and aligns with the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan.

We are not taking appointments for COVID-19 vaccine immunizations – please see below for update.

What was done last week?

  • Began rolling out stage 1 of the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution and Administration Roll Out Plan.
  • Local Long-Term Care Home (LTCH) and High Risk Retirement Home Staff* started to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine in Kingston through a partnership with Kingston Health Science Centre.
  • From January 13 to January 18: 472 individuals from Leeds, Grenville and Lanark received the vaccine through this clinic.
  • Finalized plans were put into place to start to move the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from Kingston to Long-Term Care Homes and High Risk Retirement Homes in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark.
  • Completed our first mobile clinic on-site at a local Long-Term Care Homes in partnership with Lanark County Paramedic Services  – 77 individuals received the vaccine through this mobile clinic.

What is the plan for this week?

  • Mobile clinics will continue to bring the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to Long-Term Care Homes and High Risk Retirement Homes in our area.
  • Continue to work with local hospitals, EMS, medical first responders and assessment centre staff to prepare them for Stage 2 of the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution and Administration Roll Out Plan.

What are we working on for next week

  • Continue to implement mobile clinics on-site at our local Long-Term Care Homes and High Risk Retirement homes.
  • Continue to work with local hospitals, EMS, medical first responders and assessment centre staff to prepare them for Stage 2 of the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution and Administration Roll Out Plan.

What can I do now?

  • Get informed visit COVID-19 Protection and Vaccine
  • Stay healthy
    • Follow COVID-19 precautions – wear a mask, keep the 2m/6ft distance from others, follow stay at home order
    • Stay home if sick and contact the Assessment Centres for testing
    • Ensure your other immunizations are up to date
    • Discuss any concerns with your health care provider, see ministry consent form
  • Be patient. It will take time for COVID-19 vaccines to be distributed to everyone in the community. Each group will be specifically identified and notified in advance to plan for vaccination – information will be posted on our website, social media, local media, and through healthcare and community partners – you won’t be missed! We know many people are eagerly anticipating their turn to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. The Health Unit’s COVID-19 Distribution and Administration Roll Out Plan aligns with the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan.

*High Risk Retirement Homes are defined as those that are co-located with a long term care home and/or have a formal memory unit within the facility.

For more detailed information and FAQs about the vaccine see below.

See the January 12, 2021 media release from Kingston Health Science Services.

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

COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet

Frequently Asked Questions

The best reason is to avoid getting COVID-19. COVID-19 can be a serious illness for many people. We are still learning about the long term effects of this novel (new) virus. For some people, symptoms can last for months. Those people are called long haulers. 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 short-term side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are less than the risk and potential long-term health damages caused by the COVID-19 virus.

Many people with COVID-19 only have a mild illness, but some of us actually become very ill, and a small percentage of us will unfortunately die. And, you know, there’s actually no way to know how sick COVID-19 is going to make you, even if you don’t have the risk factors, such as: diabetes, hypertension, obesity, or being of the age of wisdom. The vaccine stimulates our immune system, like having the virus would, except you don’t have to get the virus or the illness associated with it. Our bodies produce antibodies, and this allows us to fight the virus if any of it inadvertently gets into our system when someone around us sneezes or coughs, or maybe when we’re just in an environment where the virus has been. So, I recommend everyone who qualifies for it get their vaccination when it becomes available.

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. They teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.

Although mRNA vaccines are relatively new, they’ve been working on this technology for quite a number of years. It’s been used more in veterinary fields. These two vaccines that have come out are the first of the kind in humans. So, the way these vaccines work is our bodies make mRNA: mRNA is a type of code in our cells that tells our cells how to make protein—it sort of gives the template for making protein. So, what these vaccines do is they take mRNA that codes for a virus protein— the COVID-19 virus is covered with this protein called a spike protein. It’s the protein on the virus that attaches to our cells, and comes in, and infects us. And, so, what they have done is they’ve coded for this protein (the spike protein from the virus) into mRNA, and then the vaccine gets injected into us. The mRNA goes into our cells; and our cells, our own cells, make this viral spike protein. So then, what happens is that our immune system recognizes that this new protein, this spike protein for the virus, is foreign; it’s not part of us, and it mounts a response. Our immune system mounts this response against this invader protein, you could say, and then it helps us fight off the virus. The benefit of that is that if and when, down the road, we become infected with COVID-19; then our immune system is already ready to go. It recognizes that this is a foreign substance, a foreign protein, and it’s ready to mount the fight off the virus before we get sick. It’s a really interesting way to deliver a vaccine—by coding this protein (the spike protein) into the vaccine. There are two companies that have developed these vaccines: Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna. Both, of which, have been approved in Canada, and both of which are actually being used to vaccinate people. They seem to be very effective so far and it’s generated a lot of excitement.

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. And so, 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. So, there is nothing to be concerned about with that regard.

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

Vaccines that are approved for use in Canada are only those that are proven safe, effective, and of high quality.

The vaccine is provided in 2 doses by a needle in the upper arm. After you get the first dose, your second dose should be given in 3-4 weeks – instructions will be provided to you. The timing of the second dose will depend on which vaccine you receive. Your second dose should be from the same manufacturer. This means if your first dose was the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine your second dose should also be the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

At this time you cannot chose which vaccine you receive. The vaccines approved in Canada are equally effective and you do not have the opportunity to choose what is distributed in your region and what is available to you.

Currently, experts believe the vaccine will work with the new strain. There is no evidence to suggest that the vaccine will not be effective against the new strain, however this is currently being explored through studies.

No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently under development (or are approved for use in Canada) are able to cause COVID-19 infection. The reason for that is: because none of these vaccines contain any live COVID-19 virus. So, the vaccines that are approved for use in Canada use either mRNA, like the Moderna or the Pfizer BioNTech vaccines, or else other vaccines that are under development (but not yet approved) use bits of digested or degraded virus that, again, are not capable of causing a COVID-19 infection in a person. The analogy that was told to me about these things causing a virus was: it would be like trying to grow a chicken from a scrambled egg. It’s just not something that’s going to be possible.

The goal of all of these vaccines is to give our immune system something that it can recognize and prepare a defense for, so that if we do encounter the actual live COVID-19 virus in the community, or in the environment somewhere, that we have a defense prepared already for it; and that it cannot cause infection in us. The process of arming our immune system, when our immune system turns on, sometimes does cause symptoms that that would mimic a COVID-19 infection; and the main one is fever. When our immune system is turned on, one of the first things our body can do to defend itself is start raising its temperature and causing a fever. When our immune system is turned on because of a vaccine, it does the same thing. So, some people will have a fever when they first receive a vaccine, but that is not the same as a COVID-19 infection.

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 vaccines are more widely available, and we can be sure that the vaccine prevents the spread of most COVID-19 infections.

The research that was done with the new COVID-19 vaccine 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 actually was prevented from multiplying in the back of your nose and throat. And, if that can still happen, then it means that if you are exposed to the virus that you could still be multiplying the virus in the back of your nose and could still infect someone else. So, you want to make sure that doesn’t happen. It may be that, over time, we discover that that the antibody response that the vaccine gives you is going to be so good that the minute the virus lines in the back of your nose or throat it quickly gets rid of it so you could not give it to anyone else. Until we reach that point, it’s really important to follow all the COVID-19 precautions.

Early on in vaccine rollout, the news media picked up on some severe reactions out of the UK. In light of this, and the current research, the answer simply: no.

The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain eggs, gelatin, preservatives or antibiotics.

People with allergies to any vaccine ingredients listed below should not take this vaccine.

Most of the ingredients are, however, known to not be associated with severe immediate allergic reactions. That being said, there’s one ingredient called polyethylene glycol—or PEG, as it’s more colloquially known as, is able to cause some severe reactions in very rare cases. PEG is, in fact, found in bowel preparations for colonoscopies, some laxatives, over-the-counter cough syrups, cosmetics, skin care products, and some food and drinks.

Individuals who have had a suspected hypersensitivity or have had an immediate allergic reaction to the following should not get either mRNA COVID-19 vaccine unless they have been evaluated by an allergist-immunologist:

  • a previous dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine
  • any components of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine including polyethylene glycol (PEG)
    • This ingredient is in both vaccines
    • It can also be found in laxatives, makeup, skin care products, personal lubricants, toothpastes, and some contact lenses. It is also in cough syrup, and in some food and drinks.
  • 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 a 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 potentials of your allergic reactions. That would probably amount to a very small number of people. However, that being said, as we’re in the early stages of vaccine rollout, there may be some exclusion of people with a history of severe allergies to other vaccines, medicines, or foods, and we’d ask that people be patient as we figure things out with the initial rollout of these vaccines. Of course, this is being done with much precaution, and for individual safety measures. If you have any concerns at all you should consult with your health care provider.

Vaccines in general are, safe, and effective when delivered to pregnant women. However until more data is available, the potential risks of vaccination to a pregnant individual and fetus remain unknown. What is known, however, is that an unvaccinated pregnant individual remains at risk of COVID-19 infection and remains at heightened risk of severe illness if infected. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has advised “COVID-19 vaccine should not be offered to populations excluded from clinical trials until further evidence is available. However, if a risk assessment deems that the benefits of vaccine outweigh the potential risks for the individual (e.g., where the risk of severe outcomes of COVID-19 and risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 is high) or for the fetus/infant (in the case of pregnancy/breastfeeding) and if informed consent includes discussion about the insufficient evidence in this population, then a complete series of authorized COVID-19 vaccines may be offered to pregnant and breastfeeding individuals.” In the absence of evidence on the use of COVID-19 vaccine in this population, the balance of benefits and risks must be made on a case-by-case basis, so speak with your health care provider to determine what is right for you and your baby.

Like all vaccines, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna 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.

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.

Most side effects are mild and will go away within a couple of days (two to three days). In order of frequency: it’s pain at the injection site, so, for most of us that would be a sore shoulder for a day or two; next is fatigue; about half the people who get this vaccine will get a headache; about a third of us: muscle pains; a third of us will also get chills, joint pain, and fever. That’s with the first shot. You’re more likely to get fever with the second shot than with the first shot. As you’ll recall, there are two doses that most of us will get. So, typically, the symptoms (the side effects) of the vaccine are quite mild, and they resolve, again, on their own. They’re expected to occur with a vaccination, and it’s because the vaccine stimulates our immune system; that is the intention of the vaccine. And, these side effects, they’re actually the features of an immune response. So, we’re all familiar with this from when we’ve gotten other viruses. These are typical symptoms. The beauty of these symptoms is that they’re not actually associated with a true infection, and they go away more quickly than one would expect with the vast majority of true viral infections. I think we can be encouraged that we’re not going to suffer a lot in getting this vaccine. It’ll be similar to what most of us experience with the flu shot. There was one study that looked at a large number of people, in the range of a million, and reported side effects were in the range of hundreds; so, you can see that not a lot of people are overly upset by getting this vaccine due to the adverse effects.

If somebody experiences an adverse effect to a vaccine, it could take a lot of different forms. It could be, very commonly; a bit of a sore arm, or maybe a fever, but sometimes there are more serious reactions that occur. In rare cases, people can get a serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis: where they might have hives, or swelling of their face, or difficulty breathing; and that requires immediate medical attention, but that also usually happens fairly quickly, and often very shortly after a vaccine is administered. So, people are often in a vaccination center and close to help if that happens. In most cases, you will be asked to remain in the vaccination area for a period of time following vaccination so you can be monitored for the rare serious side effects. If people have other adverse effects, the person to probably talk to about that would be somebody like their family doctor. Health care providers are going to report side effects directly to public health units in Ontario, and the public health units are going to keep track of, and further those reports to the vaccine manufacturers, and other government agencies to keep track of them. If our guidance needs to be adjusted based on people’s reactions during the vaccine roll out, then we will continue to communicate those changes as they occur.

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

The answer is: no, because the PCR test—that the lab uses to see whether or not you have COVID-19 virus in the back of your nose and throat, is a totally different test than the antibody levels that you’re going to be developing when you have the vaccine. So, they’re not related at all. So that you don’t have any worry that—because you’ve been immunized—when they do that swab in the back of your nose and throat, it might pick it up: it will not. When 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, and so you don’t need to worry about getting a positive COVID-19 test if you’ve been immunized. They’re totally separate.

The main thing that physicians advise people, with regards to any vaccine, is that to defer vaccination if they have acute febrile illness. So, basically, if someone has a fever; they should come back, wait, and get the vaccine once they recover from that: when they are no longer febrile. And, again, this is not so much that the vaccine will hurt them or anything bad will happen. But we have to realize that fever—or if they have fever for other reasons—that their immune system might be already activated, and they will not respond appropriately to the vaccine, and they may not develop the same level of protection that they would have gotten otherwise. So, that’s why we ask them to wait until they’re no longer febrile. Now, during the times of pandemic, and COVID-19 specifically, we also ask people who have any other mild symptoms to wait until they feel better. And, again, if any of these symptoms could be from COVID-19 and are, in fact, from COVID-19, we really want to make sure that these individuals do not come to the settings where we give immunizations: so, we protect those other individuals who are coming to get the vaccine from getting exposed to a virus. Another precaution and, again—more of a theoretical nature—is that we have to realize that that there might be certain groups of people with certain conditions that were excluded from trials; and, as such, we don’t have exactly the information to how they would respond to the vaccine. And, again, those individuals may need to talk to their family doctors, may need to talk to their healthcare providers, to see if the vaccine is right for them. In most cases, in my understanding, the benefits of vaccine far outweigh the risks and that recommendation might be, in fact, to get the vaccine. But that’s why there’s no blanket recommendation for people with certain comorbidities. An example of that could be people with bleeding disorders, or people who are taking anticoagulant medications.

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.

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: the US, Germany, Turkey, South Africa, Brazil, and Argentina. So, based off this, we’re pretty certain that it is quite effective across a variety of different ethnicities.

Yes, there were; about 41 percent of global and 45 percent of US participants were 56 to 85 years of age. The observe efficacy in adults over 65 years of age was over 94 percent. So, this is a very high efficacy in a population of our most vulnerable folks in our communities. Unfortunately, no one under 16 years of age was included and, therefore, at this current time, is not advised to receive vaccine. However, there are ongoing studies and trials looking at folks who are younger.

Some people may have had COVID-19 and recovered. It is still recommended that they get vaccinated. There is some evidence to suggest that natural immunity from a COVID-19 illness may not last very long. It is best to get vaccinated to stay protected.

Those who have previously had confirmed COVID-19 infection should still get vaccinated, and the reason for that is that we know that there is some naturally occurring immunity following COVID-19 infection, but we don’t know how long that immunity lasts. And given the severe nature of some of the some of the risk associated with COVID-19 infection, it is still beneficial that that individual can get the vaccine. The re-infection is possible, and the vaccine will provide additional protection. At this point, we don’t know how long the immunity from the vaccine will last and, again, that’s something that will become known as there’s more clinical information from trials, and from data gathering that we have. But, again, individuals with the prior COVID-19 infection should still get immunized.

A similar question to this one that also comes up in discussions with the community is whether someone who had COVID-19 immunization could still have developed COVID-19 infection, and the answer to that question is: yes. Again, vaccine is very, very effective. We’ve seen in trials it’s over 90 percent efficacy. So, it is a very effective vaccine, but it is also possible that someone, while they are getting their COVID-19 immunization, might have been exposed to that virus just days prior. And it takes about two weeks to develop infection from that exposure; and vaccine, unfortunately, it’s not what we call a post-exposure prophylaxis. So, if someone’s already been exposed to the virus, even though they may receive the vaccine the next day, they could still potentially get the infection from that initial exposure to the virus. So, that’s something that’s important to keep in mind as well. Also, it takes 1-2 weeks for the immune system to respond and provide some immunity so exposure to the virus soon after vaccination, before the body has had time to produce antibodies, may still lead to infection.

Health Canada did not lower their safety standard for vaccines. The reason that the COVID-19 vaccine was 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 vaccine were just as strict as the regular process for any other vaccine.

You should wait 14 days before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine if you have had another type of vaccine.

After receiving your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, you should not receive any other vaccines for 28 days. If for some reason you need another vaccine within 28 days, discuss this with your doctor or health care provider.

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. Some estimates for COVID-19 suggest it may be near 60 to 70%, though the full range of estimates is much broader. While experts 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?)

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 14 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 14 days. While symptoms usually develop in the first 2–5 days, it can take up to up to 2 weeks 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.

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 – we all need to do our part to slow and reduce the spread so our healthcare system is not overloaded. This means:

  • Staying home as much as possible
  • 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 as required.
  • 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 and Infant Care

Currently, there is insufficient evidence to suggest that pregnant women are at greater risk from COVID-19. We recommend pregnant women protect themselves from infection through the regular measures of physical distancing, frequent hand washing and not touching your face.

Given low rates of transmission of respiratory viruses through breastmilk, the World Health Organization states that those who have COVID-19 can breastfeed. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Wash your hands before and after feeding your baby
  • Wear a mask while feeding or caring for your baby
  • Ensure breast pump equipment, if used, is cleaned after every use
  • If hospitalized, it is your decision whether to room-in (dependant on hospital policy) and nurse at the breast or to separate temporarily and provide pumped milk.

If you have made the informed decision to feed your baby formula, be sure to use only commercial infant formula. It is the only recommended and safe alternative to breast milk. Home-made formula recipes are not a safe or nutritionally adequate substitute for commercial infant formula. They do not offer the right amount of vitamins, minerals and energy that babies need and they could be a food safety risk.

Are you an essential worker? Free emergency childcare may be available. Check these websites and fill in an application to see if you are eligible:

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.