What to expect when you get a COVID-19 vaccine

What you need to know before, during and after a covid 19 vaccination.

Last updated: May 5, 2022

Book a vaccine

If you need a COVID-19 vaccine, learn how to book an appointment.

Before your appointment

Time off work to get a vaccine

You are entitled to take time off work to get your COVID-19 vaccine as part of a job-protected infectious disease emergency leave.

Your employer cannot threaten, fire or penalize you in any way for taking this leave.

Learn more about infectious disease emergency leave.

What to bring to your appointment

No matter where you are getting vaccinated, you should bring:

  • your booking confirmation code
  • your Ontario health (OHIP) card if you have one
  • proof of identity
  • your immunization record, if available, to keep track of your COVID-19 vaccine
  • a face covering
  • a support person, if needed (for example, an interpreter or someone to help you during the vaccination)

Wear clothing that allows easy access to your upper arm and shoulder area, such as a t-shirt.

Some individuals who are moderately to severely immunocompromised may need to bring proof they are eligible for additional booster doses

At your appointment

The clinic staff or health care provider will tell you about the process before the COVID-19 vaccination begins and answer any questions you have.

Before receiving the vaccine, tell the health care provider who is providing the vaccine if you:

  • were diagnosed with myocarditis or pericarditis following a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or have had myocarditis before
  • have allergies or had an allergic reaction to a previous COVID-19 vaccine dose or another vaccine

They will also ask you to consent to:

  • getting the COVID-19 vaccine
  • collecting your sociodemographic data (such as your race and household size)
  • being contacted about research studies

Providing your sociodemographic data and contact information for research studies is voluntary. You will be able to get the vaccine whether you provide the information or not.

How long it takes

Getting the vaccine will only take a few minutes. However, you may have to wait:

  • for your turn when you arrive at the vaccine site
  • five to 15 minutes after you get vaccinated, to make sure you are feeling well

Follow public health measures

  • Wear a tight fitting, well constructed mask where required (it is also recommended you wear one when in indoor public settings).
  • Stay home and reschedule your appointment if you're experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms or are currently isolating.

After your vaccination

Wait for five to 15 minutes after getting the vaccine to make sure you are feeling well. Do not drive during this time.

You may be asked to wait at the clinic for up to 30 minutes if there is a concern you might experience an allergic reaction (for example, if you have had vaccine reactions before).

Inform the clinic staff if you feel unwell while you are waiting.

Possible side effects

Like any medication, vaccines can cause mild side effects and reactions. These can last a few hours or a couple of days after vaccination.
Common side effects may include:

  • colour changes (for example, red or purple), soreness or swelling on the arm
  • tiredness
  • headache
  • muscle and joint pain
  • chills
  • mild fever

For additional information please watch the following videos on:

The vaccines cannot cause COVID-19. This is because they do not contain the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for the disease. However, if you come in contact with the virus just before or after vaccination, you could still develop COVID-19.

When to call your doctor

Vaccine reactions are rare. However, they may occur up to three days after getting vaccinated.

If you experience a high fever (over 40°C or 104°F), have side effects that are worrying you or side effects that do not seem to be going away after a few days, call your doctor or health care practitioner or seek medical attention.

Go to the nearest emergency department or call 911 if you develop any of the following reactions within three days of receiving the vaccine:

  • hives
  • swelling of the face, throat or mouth
  • trouble breathing
  • chest pain, shortness of breath or heart palpitations
  • serious drowsiness
  • high fever (over 40°C)
  • convulsions or seizures
  • other serious symptoms, such as numbness or “pins and needles”

If you do have a severe adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine, you may be eligible for compensation from the federal government.

Get help

If you have any questions, please speak with a health care provider or the person providing the vaccine. You can also contact your local public health unit to ask questions or to report an adverse reaction following vaccination.