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COVID-19 Protection & Vaccines

Update: Ontario is moving to a 16 week interval between the vaccine doses (with exceptions for Long-Term Care Home and Retirement Home Residents). All second dose appointments that were booked with shorter intervals will be cancelled and you will be phoned or emailed a new appointment time. This 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. *Note: this is a recent decision and it may take some time for all the paperwork to be updated and appointments to be re-booked.

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.

Who is eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark now and how do they book an appointment?

As of April 6, 2021 the following groups are eligible to receive their COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Health Care Workers – Highest Priority*, Very High Priority, High Priority and Moderate Priority
  • Residents, staff and caregivers in long term care/retirement homes
  • Other congregate care settings e.g. group homes
  • Adults born in 1961 or before (60+) (as of April 7)
  • All Indigenous Adults * ages 16+ includes First Nations, Metis and Inuit.
  • Adult recipients of chronic home care
  • Education staff who directly support students with complex special education needs
    Education staff who provide direct supports to students with complex special needs are defined as those who support students who meet one or more of the following criteria:
    • who require support with activities of daily living, including health and safety measures
    • are unable to wear masks for medical reasons
    • have complex medical needs  
    • cannot be accommodated through remote learning

Highest-Risk Health Conditions:

  • Organ transplant recipients
  • Hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients
  • Neurological diseases in which respiratory function may be compromised (e.g., motor neuron disease, myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis)
  • Haematological malignancy diagnosed <1 year
  • Kidney disease eGFR< 30

High-Risk Health Conditions:

  • Obesity (BMI > 40)
  • Other treatments causing immunosuppression (e.g., chemotherapy, immunity- weakening medications)
  • Intellectual or developmental disabilities (e.g., Down Syndrome)

Please check the eligibility tool to see if you are eligible to receive the vaccine at this time in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark. We will be updating the tool regularly so you will be able to find out when you can receive the vaccine.

How to Book an Appointment

Eligible Age Groups – As of April 7, 2021, for Adults born in 1961 or earlier (ages 60+)

  • Use the Province’s online booking tool at www.ontario.ca/bookvaccine
  • The online vaccine booking tool allows for someone to book your vaccination appointments on behalf of the person born on or before 1961. They can also use their email address to receive notification about the appointment time and place.
  • You can also call the Provincial Vaccine Information Line at 1-888-999-6488, open Monday to Sunday from 8:00am to 8:00pm.
  • 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.
  •  NOTE: If you are 60+ 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 link above 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.

Eligible Groups Other than Age

  • Call our local 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.
  • Please only call if you are eligible to receive vaccine. If you have any health concerns, it is always best to speak with your health care provider.
  • 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.

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.
  • If you will not be attending an appointment that you booked through the local booking center or online on the Pomelo system please cancel it so it is available for someone else. You can do this by emailing [email protected]. Please include your name, the date, time and location of your appointment, and that you would like it cancelled.
  • 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.

Booking, or Changing, Second dose if Needed

Sending an email to [email protected]

  • Provide your name, date of birth and details about your request and a phone number
  • Due to the volume of email, it may take several days to return your email

Family and Friend Support for Booking

If you have friends or family who are over 60 years old (were born in 1961 or earlier), 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 LGL 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 LGL 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

Vaccinations with the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine at pharmacies require an appointment to be made in advance. As of April 3, adults aged 55 and over (born in 1966 and before) who are interested in booking an appointment, can visit 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 participating pharmacies 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 April 19, 2021

What was done last week?

Clinics:

  • Continuing to provide first or second doses to new admissions to Long-Term Care Homes and High Risk Retirement Homes
  • Continue to offer first doses and second doses to those in other Retirement Homes
  • Began offering first doses to residents and staff in other congregate living facilities.
  • Operated 4 fixed sites (Smiths Falls, Almonte, Brockville and Kemptville
  • Continued to support In House Hospital Staff Clinics
  • 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
  • Adjustments were made to the clinic schedule based on the amount of Pfizer vaccine for the first part of May.  

New Provincial Appointment Booking System continues

  • Continue to support booking in the provincial appointment booking system for those born in 1961 or before (60+)
  • How to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment (ontario.ca)
  • Provincial Vaccine Information Line at 1-888-999-6488, open Monday to Sunday from 8:00am to 8:00pm
  • Opened up booking to eligible special education workers that were identified by the school boards.
    *Held two special vaccine clinics for this population to coincide with their spring break.

Continue 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.

  • Continue 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 email [email protected].

Advertise provincial pharmacy website to book apt for AstraZeneca for 55+. Many new pharmacies across Leeds, Grenville and Lanark were added this week.

Number of Immunizations Given:

  • From April 12, 2021–April 18, 2021: 6564 individuals received their first dose of vaccine this week and 308 individuals received their second dose of vaccine.
  • A total of 32,264* 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.
    *there was a correction in the database to include doses that previously were not linked to our Health Unit area.
    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:

  • 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*
  • Individuals with high-risk chronic conditions – Very High Risk Category*

Continue to roll out stage 1, stage 2, stage 3 and stage 4 of the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution and Administration Roll Out Plan. Including vaccine for congregate settings.

Promote Provincial Appointment Booking System for the general public based on 5 year age groups continues.

Continue Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Appointment Booking System for non-aged based provincial priority groups and for aged-based individuals who need to support to book at a vaccine clinic.

  • 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.

Work with community partners to host our first Community Clinic in Westport.

Work with primary care who have offered to provide AstraZeneca in their offices to 55+ to be set up to give vaccine.

Encourage adults 40+ (born in 1981 or earlier) to book appointments directly with any of the participating pharmacies in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Finalize planning for additional Community Clinics throughout Leeds, Grenville and Lanark (including April 27 clinic in Elgin and May 11 in Athens)

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.

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.

There have been some reports of very rare instances of blood clots with the AstraZeneca vaccine. Health Canada is investigating this further, and while they still believe that the benefits of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine and COVISHIELD (the version of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine currently being distributed in Canada) in protecting Canadians from COVID-19 continue to outweigh the risks, they have temporarily paused the use of AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD for those under age 55 until more information is available. See Health Canada’s full statement and guidance here.

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.

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. *Note: this is a recent decision and it may take some time for all the paperwork to be updated and appointments to be re-booked. Instructions for booking the second appointment will be provided to you. 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.

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.”

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 please speak with your health care provider to determine what is right for you and your baby.

None of the vaccines currently in Canada have been approved for use in children or teens under 16. Pfizer-BioNTech is approved for age 16 and up and the Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines are for age 18 and up. Research is ongoing for these younger age groups and we are hopeful that they will be eligible for an appropriate vaccine soon.

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?)

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.