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: November 24, 2021

Proof of vaccination

As of September 22, 2021, you will need to provide proof of vaccination to access certain businesses and settings. Read the proof of vaccination guidance for businesses (PDF).

If you still need your first or second dose of the vaccine, book now.

Who can book a first or second dose

Anyone born in 2016 or earlier can book an appointment for their covid 19 vaccine.

You can book a covid 19 vaccination appointment for:

  • yourself
  • a family member, friend or someone whose medical care and appointments you manage

Learn about:

Booking a third dose or a booster

While the covid 19 vaccine is highly effective, we are expanding eligibility for a booster dose to all Ontarians over time. Learn more.

How to schedule an appointment

Your options for scheduling a vaccination will depend on your public health unit’s local vaccination plan and where you want to get vaccinated.

Visit ontario.ca/bookvaccine and enter some information to find out how you can schedule your vaccine appointments if you are eligible.

Depending on the information you enter, the tool may give you the option to book appointments at a:

  • mass immunization clinic, through either:
    • the provincial booking system
    • the provincial call centre
    • your local public health unit (online or by phone)
  • participating local pharmacy, by contacting the pharmacy directly

The provincial tool does not offer booking at:

  • primary care settings
  • mobile clinics
  • pop-up clinics (for example, at faith-based locations or community centres)
  • workplace clinics (for example, at warehouses or manufacturing facilities)

Mobile and pop-up clinics are promoted locally within their target communities and local public health units.

Types of vaccine clinics

Mass immunization clinics

These clinics are held in large public locations (such as recreation or entertainment centres), but are not hospitals, pharmacies or mobile clinics.

If you book an appointment through the provincial online booking system or call centre, you are scheduling an appointment at a mass immunization clinic.

Select pharmacies

Select pharmacies across the province are offering covid 19 vaccines.

Most pharmacies book appointments ahead of time and some allow walk-ins. Check with the pharmacy before you go.

Hospitals

Many hospitals are holding vaccine clinics. They may be holding a:

  • hospital-run clinic
  • pop-up clinic

Check the hospital’s website for information about their clinic, including who is eligible and how to book an appointment.

Primary care settings

Some people may be able to get vaccinated in a primary care setting, such as a doctor’s office.

If your primary care provider is administering the vaccine and you’d like to book an appointment with them, reach out to them directly.

Mobile and pop-up clinics

Mobile and pop-up clinics are:

  • temporary sites (for example, at faith-based locations or community centres)
  • promoted locally in target communities (such as high-risk postal codes) and through local public health units (you cannot find them through Ontario’s booking system)

Workplace 'pop-up' clinics may be set up as needed.

Time off work to get a vaccine

If you need to take time off work to get your covid 19 vaccine, you’re entitled to 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
  • your immunization record, if available, to keep track of your covid 19 vaccine
  • an allergy form, if you have a suspected allergy to the Pfizer vaccine or any of its ingredients or have had a previous allergic reaction to a 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 may need to bring proof they are eligible for a third dose or a booster.

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.

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 shot should only take a few minutes. However, you may have to wait:

  • for your turn when you get to the clinic or pharmacy
  • 15 to 30 minutes after you get vaccinated, to make sure you are feeling well

Follow public health measures

  • Wear a face covering or mask
  • Keep at least 2 metres away from people you do not live with
  • Wash or sanitize your hands often
  • Stay home and reschedule your appointment if you're experiencing any covid 19 symptoms or have been exposed to the virus

After your vaccination

Wait for 15 to 30 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 any concern you might have 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.

Learn about possible side effects and when to call your doctor.

If you think you might be having a severe allergic reaction after leaving the vaccination site, call 911.

Staying safe and following public health measures

It takes about 2 weeks from your first dose for your body to gain protection from the covid 19 vaccine.

‎Everyone who receives the vaccine will still need to follow public health guidance to stop the spread covid 19.

After you get the covid 19 vaccine, you should:

  • continue wearing a mask, staying at least 2 metres from others and avoiding contact with others outside your household
  • if between the ages of five to 11, it is recommended to wait 14 days post covid 19 vaccine to receive another vaccine
  • speak to your doctor or primary care provider if you are planning to become pregnant

Contacts for more information

General vaccine information

For questions and general information about covid 19 vaccination, you can:

  • visit our page on Ontario’s vaccination program
  • call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY for people who are deaf, hearing-impaired or speech-impaired: 1-866-797-0007)
    • information is available in more than 300 languages
    • this line is available 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week
    • you may have to wait for an agent when call volumes are high
  • contact your health care provider
  • contact your local public health unit

Help with the provincial online vaccine booking system

For help with your booking through the provincial online vaccine booking system, please:

  • visit our booking support page
  • call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900
    • information is available in more than 300 languages
    • this line is available 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week
    • you may have to wait for an agent when call volumes are high