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: June 16, 2021

Who can book a first dose

Anyone over 12 can now book an appointment for their first dose of the 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 who should not get the vaccine.

Who can book a second dose

Timing of second dose appointments may vary based on local considerations, vaccine supply and the date of your first dose appointment.

Learn about:

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:

  • hospitals
  • 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
  • mass immunization 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.

Primary care providers will not be taking appointments by request — do not call them for a vaccine appointment. They will be contacting those who are eligible directly.

Mobile and pop-up clinics

Mobile and pop-up clinics are:

  • temporary sites (for example, at faith-based locations or community centres)
  • in hot spot communities
  • available only if you live in certain postal codes
  • promoted locally in target communities and local public health units (you cannot find them through Ontario’s booking system)

Workplace clinics

These clinics are:

  • in hot spot communities
  • at workplaces that had a previous covid 19 outbreak or are at risk of an outbreak
  • vaccinating:
    • employees aged 18 and older who cannot work from home
    • members of the local and neighbouring communities, at the direction of the public health unit
  • operated either onsite (for example, at warehouses or manufacturing facilities) or alternative locations, in consultation with the local public health unit
  • set up, operated and funded by the workplace employer
  • promoted locally (you cannot find them through Ontario’s booking system)

Employers: find out about the criteria to host a workplace vaccination clinic

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 Ontario health (OHIP) card 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 avoid 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

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 (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.

However, getting vaccinated doesn't exempt you from public health measures, travel restrictions or quarantine requirements. ‎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
  • 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

    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 Information Line at 1-888-999-6488 (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 Booking Line 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