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COVID-19 Protection & Vaccines

Update: Ontario has moved to a 16 week interval between the vaccine doses (with limited exceptions for Long-Term Care Home and Retirement Home residents, staff and essential caregivers, Highest Risk Health Care Workers, Indigenous populations and those with the most vulnerable health conditions like organ transplants, active cancer treatment, and dialysis). The 16 week interval is based on guidance from Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunizations in order to maximize the strong protection from first doses in the population. Additional vulnerable groups may become eligible for a shorter dose as vaccine supply allows. For more details on vaccine dose intervals, see the How is the Vaccine Given FAQ below.

COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic Feedback

Have you attended a Health Unit COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic? Please complete this brief survey and let us know how we did!

Local COVID-19 Vaccine Status

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.

As of May 18, all adults 18+ (born in 2003 or before) are now eligible to book an appointment for their COVID-19 Vaccine.

*Note: If you are turning 18 in 2021, but will be under 18 at the time of your appointment, you must book at one of our fixed site clinics (Brockville, Kemptville, Smiths Falls or Almonte) to receive the Pfizer vaccine.  

Youth ages 12+ will be eligible on May 31, 2021. Stay tuned for our local roll out plan.

*Note: We are still experiencing more demand than supply for vaccine. Appointments will be added to our booking systems over the next few weeks as we receive more vaccine. We greatly appreciate our residents’ eagerness to be vaccinated and help end this pandemic, and ask that you continue to be both patient and persistent when booking your appointment. Consider registering on the contingency list for a short notice appointment if you are able. Trying the local call centre later in the day may help to reduce your wait time.

How to Book an Appointment

All adults age 18+ (born in 2003 or before) can book a vaccine appointment either through the Provincial system (online or phone) or our local booking system (phone).

  • Use the Province’s online booking tool at www.ontario.ca/bookvaccine or the Provincial Booking Phone-line at 1-888-999-6488, open Monday to Sunday from 8:00am to 8:00pm.
  • Call our local Leeds, Grenville, Lanark Booking Centre toll-free at 1-844-369-1234, open daily 8:30am to 4:00pm.
  • The provincial and the local booking systems have different days and times available to them – so you can try both if you are unsuccessful with one.
  • If you are able to, please 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).
  •  NOTE: If you are eligible and haven’t been able to get an appointment yet you can:
    • Add your name to our contingency list for short notice appointments when there are extra doses. You must already be eligible (it is not open to everyone, and it is only for first doses), you can choose the vaccine clinic site most convenient for you.
  • If you will not be attending an appointment that you booked through the Provincial system please cancel it so it is available for someone else. You can do this by calling 1-833-943-3900 or see their website for more help.
  • To cancel or change an appointment booked through our Local Call Centre – or if you aren’t sure how you booked it – call 1-844-369-1234 to cancel so it can be available for someone else.

Important Information

  • Only individuals who are eligible and who have booked an appointment will get their vaccine at the clinic. You will not be able to receive vaccine if you are not eligible or if you do not have an appointment.
  • It is important to cancel any un-needed appointments so they are available to someone else. If you booked it through the Provincial system – you can cancel it by calling 1-833-943-3900 or see their website for more help. If you booked it through our local call centre (or you are not sure how you booked it) – you can cancel by calling 1-844-369-1234.
  • If you are eligible – you can register for our contingency list to be called on short notice if there are extra doses available on site. This may get you in sooner. Read the instructions carefully to be sure you are eligible to register, and please remember to cancel your other appointment if needed.
  • If you have registered for the contingency list but have received your first vaccine already (either through another booking or at a pharmacy) – please email [email protected] with a request to remove you from the contingency list. Include your full name, phone number and the site at which you registered.

Booking, or Changing, Second dose if Needed

To book a second dose, change or cancel an appointment, please call the Leeds, Grenville, Lanark Booking Centre toll-free at 1-844-369-1234. Hours of operation are 8:30am to 4:00pm, 7 days a week.

For more details on vaccine dose intervals and who is eligible for an earlier second dose, see the How is the Vaccine Given FAQ below.

*We are awaiting guidelines from the Province on second doses for those who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine as well as guidance on mixing vaccine doses.

Family and Friend Support for Booking

If you have friends or family who are eligible, ask them 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.

Community PopUp Vaccine Clinics

Community pop-up clinics are part of the Health Unit’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. These clinics are intended to reach residents of Leeds, Grenville and Lanark in the communities where they live to provide a convenient option to receive their COVID-19 vaccine. These clinics are delivered in partnership between the Health Unit, and local organizations and volunteers.

  • Community clinics are being planned for communities throughout Leeds, Grenville and Lanark that do not already have a fixed site COVID-19 vaccine clinic in place.
  • We are working towards having a regular schedule of one-day community pop-ups across Leeds, Grenville and Lanark. Once this is established, it will be shared on our Health Unit website and through our community partners and local media
  • The Health Unit is following our Mass Immunization Plan to guide decision making for vaccine clinic operations, which was informed by the Government of Canada’s Planning guidance for immunization clinics for COVID-19 vaccines.
  • The Immunization clinic site identification provides information about the specific considerations in terms of location, accessibility and amenities. Spaces need to accommodate 30-40 chairs spaced 6 feet apart, as well as additional space for vaccine preparation, check in and check out.
  • Volunteers are required for the community pop-up clinics to help with screening, cleaning surfaces in between clients, line control, and general assistance to community members attending the clinic. Volunteers are being organized through local partner organizations (not through the Health Unit).
  • Anyone who is currently eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine can book an appointment at one of the community pop-up clinics
  • They are designed to be accessible for those in the areas surrounding the communities where they are located
  • Use this tool to check if you are eligible
  • We will use our local booking system to book appointments
    • These clinics are specifically for those in areas surrounding the communities where they are located
    • Primary care providers will be able to directly book their eligible patients into these clinics
    • Eligible individuals can contact our local call centre at 1-844-369-1234
  • Yes – information about transportation options can be found under ‘What about transportation?’ tab further down on this page.

Pharmacies

Provincial Pause in 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.”

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.

Pharmacies are working with the Province to continue to provide COVID-19 vaccines to those eligible. There are pilots with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines in some pharmacies in Ontario. We will post more information as it is available, and you can check ontario.ca/pharmacycovidvaccine to find a participating pharmacy in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark. These vaccinations are separate from our Health Unit’s vaccination roll-out. Please call the pharmacy directly to book or call the Province of Ontario Vaccination Information Line at 1-888-999-6488 (TTY 1-866-797-0007) for more information.

Local COVID-19 Vaccine Status

Update for May 17, 2021

What was done last week?

Clinics:

  • Continue to offer first doses and second doses to those newly admitted to Long-Term Care Homes and Retirement Homes
  • Continued to offer first doses to residents and staff in other congregate living facilities
  • Operated 4 fixed sites (Smiths Falls, Almonte, Brockville and Kemptville)
  • Continued Outreach Team: Provides immunizations in homes for those that are bedbound or have severe mobility issues (must also be in an eligible category)
  • Continued second doses for those that reach their 16 week interval or that qualify for an earlier dose
  • Continued our contingency list program to offer up last minute doses to those in the priority groups
  • Hosted a community clinic in Prescott, Ontario
  • Partnered with primary care to deliver Moderna in their offices.

Promoted and supported the Provincial Vaccine Appointment Booking System for those currently eligible and the newly added groups of those born in 1981 or before (40+) and those essential workers that can’t work from home – Group 1 and Group 2. (Please see our eligibility tool to verify eligibility at this time).

Continued Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Appointment Booking System for non-aged based provincial priority groups and for primary care to use with individuals in their practice for eligible groups.

  • Continued to support the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Appointment Booking System for those that have received an invitation link and code. If you have difficulties with your link, please call 1-844-369-1234

Number of Immunizations Given:

  • From May 10, 2021–May 16, 2021: 5901 individuals received their first dose of vaccine during this week and 102 individuals received their second dose of vaccine
  • A total of 57, 836 individuals have received at least one dose of the Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca Vaccine (either through one of our fixed sites, the KHSC Clinic, the Ottawa Hospital Clinic, one of our mobile clinics/teams or through local primary care offices) since our roll out started

This number does not include those that received AstraZeneca in a participating Pharmacy.

What is the plan for this week?

Booking for clients in the following groups at our fixed sites and mobile clinics:

  • Health Care Worker – Highest Priority*
  • Health Care Worker – Very High Priority*
  • Health Care Worker – High Priority*
  • Health Care Worker – Moderate Priority*
  • Staff and caregivers in retirement homes and other congregate care settings for seniors (e.g., assisted living)
  • Adults receiving chronic home care health services
  • Indigenous Adults (16+)
  • Residents, Staff and Designated Essential Caregivers of  Other High Risk Congregate Living Facilities.
  • Individuals with high-risk chronic conditions – Highest Risk Category* (includes pregnancy)
  • Individuals with high-risk chronic conditions – High Risk Category*
  • Essential Workers who cannot work from home Group One and Two
  • Individuals in the at risk health conditions category.
  • Adults born 1981 or before (40+)
  • Starting May 18 Adults born in 2003 (18+)

Continue to roll out stage 1, stage 2, stage 3, stage 4 and stage 5. Begin roll out to stage 6 of the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution and Administration Roll Out Plan.

Promote and support the Provincial Vaccine Appointment Booking System for those currently eligible. Please see our eligibility tool to verify eligibility at this time. If you don’t immediately see appointments available, please keep trying as more availability will be added to the system when more vaccine is received.

Continue Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Appointment Booking System for non-aged based provincial priority groups and for those currently eligible. Please see our eligibility tool to verify eligibility at this time.

  • Continue to support the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Appointment Booking System for eligible individuals who have received an invitation link. If you have difficulties with your link, please call 1-844-369-1234.
  • Continue to offer first doses and second doses to those newly admitted to Long-Term Care Homes and Retirement Homes
  • Continued to offer first doses to residents and staff in other congregate living facilities.
  • Operated 4 fixed sites (Smiths Falls, Almonte, Brockville and Kemptville)
  • Continued Outreach Team: Provides immunizations in homes for those that are bedbound or have severe mobility issues (must also be in an eligible category)
  • Continued our contingency list program to offer up last minute doses to those in the priority groups
  • Continue to work with primary care who will be offering Moderna in their practices
  • Offer a community clinic in Athens and Perth this week.
  • Continue planning for 12–17 youth strategy roll out.
  • Continue second doses for those that reach their 16 week interval or that qualify for an earlier dose

Continue to plan for future community clinics in other communities.

What are we working on for next week

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 the stay at home order
    • Stay home if sick and contact the Assessment Centres for testing
  • 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!

*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.

*Information about Prioritization of High Risk Health Conditions can be found here.

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

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

January 15, 2021 First COVID-19 Vaccination in LGL

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

At this time, we are not listing the locations on our website or publicizing them because all the people invited to book appointments are getting the information directly. Once we start opening up booking to the community, we will add the locations to our website and in the booking confirmation communications. We discourage people from going to the vaccination sites without an appointment with the hopes of being vaccinated as booking doesn’t take place on-site.

You can check out the Health Unit’s local COVID-19 Distribution and Administration Roll Out Plan for information on the stages and phases and who is included. There are also estimates of when each stage may take place. Vaccine supply is limited so the groups with the highest risk of severe disease or exposure to the virus will be done first. As each new group becomes eligible we will be communicating it widely through media (Facebook, Twitter, radio, newspapers), healthcare partners, municipalities, and other partner organizations. If you know of those who may not hear – please help us by sharing this information with them as it becomes available.

We have added an eligibility tool to our website for clients to use to check if they are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine.

Please be patient if you are asking specific questions via webmail or phone, as it is ‘all hands on deck’ at the Health Unit to answer your questions, continue our case and contact management of current COVID-19 infections and help vaccinate as many people as possible.

There are 3 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.

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.

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.

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 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 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.”

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.

Most of the current vaccines are provided in 2 doses by a needle in the upper arm. After you get the first dose, your second dose should be given 16 weeks from the first dose (with exceptions for Long-Term Care Home, Retirement Home residents and those most vulnerable) as per new protocols from the Province based on this guidance from Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunizations in order to maximize the strong protection from first doses in the population. 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.

The recently approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single dose delivered by a needle in the upper arm. A second dose is not required.

  • Ontario’s Ministry of Health: Extension of the Second Dose Interval
    • The most recent guidance from the Province of Ontario is that the following groups can receive their second dose at the shorter interval as indicated in the product monographs:
      • Long-Term Care Home and Retirement home residents, workers and essential caregivers
      • Adults with the following highest-risk health conditions:
        • Transplant recipients (organ and stem cell transplants)
        • Cancer patients who are receiving active treatment (chemotherapy, targeted therapies, immunotherapy), excluding individuals receiving solely hormonal therapy or radiation therapy.
        • Those undergoing hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis
      • All Indigenous adults (16+) in Ontario
      • Highest Risk Healthcare Workers
      • Home and Community Health Care workers providing care to recipients of chronic homecare or seniors in other congregate living situations.

While second dose intervals may be shortened as vaccine supply increases once the majority of the population has the protection of one dose, no changes have been made yet in the guidelines.

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:

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 are happy to launch the new referral process for in home COVID-19 vaccine administration for those who are eligible. If you are eligible to receive your COVID-19 Vaccine, you can call our local call centre at 1-844-369-1234 or contact your case manager or health care provider for a referral to the community paramedicine program.

Community partners are offering safe, non-shared, transportation to and from vaccine appointments. Fees are based on distance traveled with subsidies available if needed.

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

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.

At this time you cannot chose which vaccine you receive. All of the vaccines approved in Canada are safe and effective. Because we are trying to put an end to this pandemic as quickly as possible to avoid more illness and death, the vaccines will be distributed as rapidly as possible and you will not have the opportunity to choose what is distributed in your region or what is available to you.

Currently, experts believe the vaccines will work effectively against the new strains [e.g. Variants of Concern (VOCs)]. There is no evidence to suggest that the vaccines will not be effective against the new strains, however this is currently being explored through studies.

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.

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 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. It’s likely that the vaccine will prevent the spread – but until we know for sure – it would be awful to reverse all of our communal hard work over the last year if we lift these precautions too soon. It may be that, over time, we discover that that the antibody response that the vaccine gives you is so good that the minute the virus lines 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.

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.

Vaccines in general are safe and effective when delivered to pregnant people, and many are regularly given to pregnant and breastfeeding individuals.

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 is 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.”

Because of the recent evidence on increased risk – pregnant individuals are now eligible to receive the vaccine in Ontario as part of the “Adults with Health Conditions in the Highest Risk” category. Pregnant individuals are encouraged to speak with their health care provider for individualized advice on the risks and benefits of receiving the vaccine.

Here is a linked PDF with many resources from credible organizations that can offer more information for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

The Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved for age 18 and up. Health Canada has recently approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for ages 12+. Research is ongoing for younger age groups and guidance on use with children and teens will be updated as new evidence is available. The Province of Ontario has not yet issued guidance on delivery of vaccines to younger age groups. Youth ages 16 and 17 who are part of an eligible group (ie: essential workers) can book an appointment at our fixed site clinics to receive the Pfizer vaccine by calling our local booking call centre at 1-844-369-1234.

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.

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

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.

You should also not have received any other vaccines in the 14 days prior to getting your COVID-19 vaccine, and refrain from getting any additional vaccines for 28 days afterwards. This is to be able to isolate any adverse reactions and attribute them to the appropriate cause.

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.

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.

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.

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?)

Anyone 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 call the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Vaccine Booking Call Centre at 1-844-369-1234 and they can help them. They will be eligible for their second dose 16 weeks after the first one.

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 get it (if their health care provider is participating in the program).

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.

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 Stroke (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 likely still effective with it.

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 – 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.