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: April 29, 2021

Who can schedule a vaccination

We are scheduling vaccine appointments only for people in the eligible groups under Ontario's three-phase vaccination plan. Each public health unit also has a complementary local plan tailored to their own community’s needs.

You can book a covid 19 vaccination appointment for:

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

If you are not in one of the groups in the following section, please do not try to book an appointment yet. You will be screened to make sure you meet the current eligibility criteria.

Learn who should not get the vaccine.

How to schedule a vaccination

Your options for scheduling a vaccination will depend on which of the following eligible groups you belong to and the distribution channels in your public health unit (for example, mass immunization clinics, pharmacy, primary care, site-specific clinics, mobile sites).

High-risk populations

If you live or work somewhere with high-risk populations, check with your employer, care home or community group about their vaccination plan.

You may also be able to book appointments through your local public health unit.

Hot spot communities

If you are age 18 or older, visit Ontario.ca/bookvaccine and answer a few questions to find out how to book appointments.

Individuals with highest risk health conditions

If you have a chronic health condition in the highest risk category of Ontario’s vaccination plan, call the provincial call centre at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY 1-866-797-0007) to book your covid 19 vaccine appointments.

Older adults

There are different ways to book an appointment depending on how old you are and what region you live in. You may be able to book an appointment at:

  • a mass vaccination clinic, through the province’s booking system
  • a participating pharmacy, by contacting the pharmacy directly
  • a regional clinic, through your public health unit
  • your doctor or primary care provider, if they contact you

Visit Ontario.ca/bookvaccine and answer a few questions to find out how to book an appointment.

Workers who can’t work from home

If you are cannot work from home, check if your employer has a vaccination plan.

You can also book online using the province’s online booking system when vaccines are available to your age group.

What you need to book through the provincial booking system

Booking online

You can currently book an appointment at a mass immunization clinic through the provincial online vaccine booking system if you:

  • meet the age criteria for your region
  • have a green photo health (OHIP) card (you will need numbers from both the front and back of the card, expired cards will be accepted)
  • have an email address and/or a phone number (your own or someone helping you book your appointment)
  • have a modern web browser (the booking site is not compatible with Internet Explorer 11 or earlier)

By booking through the provincial online vaccine booking system, you are scheduling an appointment at a mass immunization clinic. These clinics are held in large public locations (such as recreation or entertainment centres), but are not hospitals, pharmacies or mobile clinics.

Booking by phone

If you prefer to make an appointment by phone or need assistance with booking, call the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY 1-866-797-0007).

This line is available 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week. Information is available in more than 300 languages.

You may have to wait for an agent if call volumes are high.

Once your appointment is booked, the call centre agent will provide you with a booking confirmation code. Please write down this number and bring it with you to your appointment.

If you don’t have a valid photo health card

If you have a red and white health card

If you have a red and white health card, you can call the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY 1-866-797-0007).

If you do not have an Ontario health card

If you do not have an Ontario health card at all, you are still eligible for the vaccine.

You can contact your local public health unit where you will be asked for another form of identification. Once the public health unit has confirmed your eligibility for vaccination, they will help book your appointment.

To find your local public health unit and contact number, visit Ontario.ca/bookvaccine and select the ‘no Ontario health card’ option from the drop down menu under Health Card Type.

What to bring to your appointment

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

  • your Ontario health (OHIP) card (if you have one) or other form of identification
  • your booking confirmation code (if you received one when you made your appointment)
  • a face covering or mask (wear one at all times)
  • assistive or accessibility devices (if you need them)

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

Some locations may have additional requirements. Make sure to check if you need to bring anything else, such as another form of identification, when you book your appointment.

Bringing people with you

If possible, please limit bringing additional people with you if they do not have an appointment.

If you need someone with you, ask the clinic ahead of time to confirm if this is possible. They will not be able to get vaccinated unless they have an appointment too.

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)

Providing your sociodemographic data 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

Vaccination receipt

After you are vaccinated, the staff will give you a paper and electronic receipt (if applicable) to:

  • confirm you got the vaccine
  • give you instructions for scheduling your second dose (if you have not done so already), depending on which vaccine you get

For some vaccine locations, you must keep the receipt from the first dose and bring it to your second appointment. Make sure to check the requirements where you get vaccinated.

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 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.

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

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
  • wait at least 28 days after you receive the covid 19 vaccine to get any other vaccines (unless your doctor or health care provider thinks it's necessary to get one sooner)
  • speak to your doctor or primary care provider if you are planning to become pregnant

Getting your second dose

To develop an effective infection-fighting response, you need to get two doses of:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech
  • Moderna
  • AstraZeneca

You may receive your second dose up to four months after your first one.

You must get the same vaccine for both doses.

Scheduling your second appointment

If you schedule your appointment through the provincial online vaccine booking system, you will need to book appointments for both doses together to make sure you get the second dose at the right time.

Other locations may give you instructions on scheduling your second appointment when you get your first dose.

For some vaccine locations, you must bring your receipt from the first dose to your second appointment. Make sure to check the requirements where you get vaccinated.

If you only need a second dose

You cannot currently book an individual second dose online through the province’s online booking system. We are working to make this available.

If you are turning 40 or older in 2021, you may be able to book an appointment for a second dose through a participating pharmacy.

You may need to provide information about your first dose (for example, what vaccine you got, where and when you got it).

Changing, cancelling and missed appointments

Find out how to change, cancel or rebook an appointment if you scheduled it through the provincial online vaccine booking system.

If you booked your appointment with a pharmacy, public health unit or hospital, contact them directly to make any changes.

Contacts for more information

General vaccine information

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

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 Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY 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