Getting a COVID-19 vaccine in Ontario

Safe and effective vaccines will help protect us against COVID-19. Learn about them and when they will be available in Ontario for you and your family.

This page will be updated regularly.

Adjusting the vaccination plan

We are adjusting our vaccination plan in response to Pfizer-BioNTech shipment delays. Learn more about the actions we’re taking.

We are expecting to receive more details from the federal government regarding Ontario’s future allocations of vaccine shipments shortly. We will then determine any impact this delay in shipments will have on the province’s rollout of vaccines. We will update this page as we receive more information.

Why get vaccinated

Safe and reliable vaccines can help protect you and your family from covid 19. They will be an important tool to help stop the spread of the virus and allow individuals, families and workers to safely resume normal life.

When a large percentage of the population becomes immune to covid 19, the spread of the virus will slow down or stop.

Vaccine protection is different for each disease. For example, to stop their spread:

  • approximately 80% of the population must be immune to polio
  • up to 95% of the population must be immune to measles

As evidence is evolving on covid 19 and vaccines, additional research is needed to determine how much of the population needs to be vaccinated to stop its spread. We encourage as many Ontarians as possible to get vaccinated.

Building immunity takes time

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines approved for use in Canada require two doses, administered a 21 to 28 days apart, for your body to develop infection fighting response.

Health officials anticipate that these vaccines will be effective against the original strain of COVID-19 and the new variant identified in the UK.

Until vaccines are widely available for everyone to receive two doses and enough people are vaccinated to stop the spread, we all must:

When vaccines will be available

The government is rolling out a three-phase distribution plan to ensure Ontario is prepared to receive, store and administer covid 19 vaccines as soon as they are available. It focuses first on vulnerable populations that are at greatest risk of covid 19 and severe illness and those who care for them.

After independent and thorough scientific reviews for safety, efficacy and quality, Health Canada has approved two vaccines for use in Canada:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech – approved on December 9, 2020
  • Moderna – approved on December 23, 2020

The Ethical Framework for COVID-19 vaccine distribution guides how the government prioritizes and distributes vaccines across the province.

Read the latest updates on vaccine distribution.

Phase 1: high-risk population vaccination

Timing

December 2020 to March 2021

Who will be vaccinated

Early doses will be available for:

  • residents, staff, essential caregivers (including family caregivers) and other employees in congregate living settings for seniors
  • health care workers, including hospital employees, staff who work or study in hospitals and health care personnel
  • adults in First Nations, Métis and Inuit populations
  • adult recipients of chronic home health care

Expected doses

We are expecting to receive the following number of doses from the federal government:

  • December 2020: 150,000
  • January 2021: 350,000
  • February: 600,000
  • March: 1.2 million

Rollout

Vaccine readiness pilot: December 2020 (complete)

Ontario participated in a covid 19 vaccine readiness pilot with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Pfizer-BioNTech.

More than 2,500 health care workers who provide care in select long-term care homes and hospitals were vaccinated at University Health Network in Toronto and The Ottawa Hospital.

After the readiness pilot: December 2020 to early January 2021 (complete)

Doses were delivered to up to 17 hospital sites (in addition to the University Health Network and the Ottawa Hospital).

Who can be vaccinated

Vaccines are available to health care workers and essential caregivers who work in:

  • hospitals
  • long-term care homes
  • retirement homes
  • other congregate settings caring for seniors
Clinic locations

The clinic locations include:

  • Grand River Hospital
  • Halton Healthcare
  • Hamilton Health Sciences
  • Humber River Hospital
  • Lakeridge Health
  • London Health Sciences Centre
  • Mackenzie Health
  • Michael Garron Hospital
  • Ottawa Hospital
  • Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre
  • Scarborough Health Network
  • Southlake Regional Health Centre
  • Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
  • Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (selected to test the travel logistics in Northern Ontario and support the administration of the vaccine to Indigenous and remote communities)
  • Trillium Health Partners
  • University Health Network in Toronto
  • Unity Health Toronto
  • William Osler Health System
  • Windsor Regional Hospital

These vaccination clinics are not open to the public.

Expanding beyond the pilot: January 2021 and beyond

Additional hospital sites and Public Health Units are providing vaccines in regions with the highest rates of covid 19 infection.

Who can be vaccinated

The vaccine is available to:

  • health care workers
  • essential caregivers
  • long-term care home and retirement home residents
  • First Nation communities and urban Indigenous populations, including Métis and Inuit adults
Clinic locations

More than 20 hospitals across Ontario will be administering the vaccines.

In addition to the sites listed above, the following hospitals are also administering vaccines:

  • Niagara Health – St. Catharines site
  • Kingston General Hospital
  • Brantford General Hospital

To vaccinate as many people, as quickly as possible, we are also establishing:

  • on-site clinics for:
    • northern and remote First Nation communities
    • on-reserve Indigenous residents
    • adult chronic home care recipients
  • mobile sites for:
    • congregate living facilities
    • urban Indigenous communities

Phase 2: mass deliveries of vaccines

Adjusting the vaccination plan

We are adjusting our vaccination plan in response to Pfizer-BioNTech shipment delays. Learn more about the actions we’re taking.

We are expecting to receive more details from the federal government regarding Ontario’s future allocations of vaccine shipments shortly. We will then determine any impact this delay in shipments will have on the province’s rollout of vaccines. We will update this page as we receive more information.

Timing

March to July 2021, depending on availability of vaccines

Who will be vaccinated

Approximately 8.5 million people from the following groups will receive vaccines:

  • older adults, beginning with those 80 and older and decreasing in five-year increments over the course of the vaccine rollout
  • people who live and work in high-risk congregate settings (for example, shelters, community living)
  • frontline essential workers, including first responders, teachers and other education staff and the food processing industry
  • individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers
  • other populations and communities facing barriers related to the determinants of health across Ontario who are at greater covid 19 risk

The task force will use the ethical framework and the best available data to identify other priority populations within this phase, based on available vaccine supply.

Expected doses

We are expecting to receive the following number of doses from the federal government:

  • April: 5 million
  • May: 5 million
  • June: 5 million
  • July: to be confirmed

Rollout

Over the coming months, more sites are being added to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible.

Vaccines will be available at:

  • municipally-run vaccination sites
  • hospitals
  • mobile vaccination sites
  • pharmacies
  • clinics
  • primary care settings
  • community locations, such as community health centre and Aboriginal health access centres

Health care providers: help administer vaccines

As the vaccine supply increases, we need more help to get vaccines to people as quickly and safely as possible, in both remote communities and large urban centres.

Register and apply through Ontario’s Matching Portal if you are a:

  • nurse practitioner, registered nurse or registered practical nurse
  • pharmacist, pharmacy student or intern or pharmacy technician

Phase 3: steady state

Timing

August 2021 and beyond, depending on availability of vaccines

Who will be vaccinated

Remaining Ontarians in the general population who wish to be vaccinated will receive the vaccine.

The ethical framework, data and available vaccine supply will help to prioritize groups in this phase.

Vaccines will not be mandatory, but you are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated.

The federal government has advance agreements with several manufacturers to purchase covid 19 vaccines once the scientific studies are completed and the vaccines are approved for use in Canada.

Ontario is ready to receive and distribute more covid 19 vaccines as soon as they are available.

Expected doses

To be confirmed

Who is being vaccinated first

Since there will be limited supply in the first few months of the vaccine program, some groups will be able to get a covid 19 vaccine before others.

As more vaccines become available in Canada, more groups will be able to be vaccinated.

Vaccines will initially be available for:

  • residents, staff, essential caregivers (including family caregivers) and other employees who work in congregate living settings providing care for seniors as they are at higher risk of infection and serious illness from covid 19
  • health care workers, including hospital employees, other staff who work or study in hospitals and other health care personnel
  • adults in First Nations, Métis and Inuit populations where infection can have disproportionate consequences, including those living in remote or isolated areas where risk of transmission is high
  • adult recipients of chronic home health care

As further information becomes available from clinical trials and from Health Canada approvals, the groups for which the vaccines are authorized for use could change.

These priorities are based on advice from the:

Ethical framework for COVID-19 vaccine distribution

An ethical framework is guiding vaccine prioritization and distribution across the province. This will ensure that:

  • decisions related to vaccine distribution priorities are consistent, fair and transparent
  • diverse perspectives are captured in government feedback and recommendations, so that all Ontarians who want to get vaccinated are accounted for

The framework includes six principles:

  • minimize harms and maximize benefits
  • equity
  • fairness
  • transparency
  • legitimacy
  • public trust

Read the full framework.

Distributing Pfizer-BioNTech vs Moderna vaccines

Both COVID-19 vaccines are fragile and must be stored and transported in special conditions to keep them stable and effective.

While you can store the Moderna vaccine at -20 degrees Celsius, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires colder temperatures, around -70 Celsius. This means the Moderna vaccine is easier to transport and store safely.

Because of this, the government plans to administer the:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine primarily in hospitals in urban areas
  • Moderna vaccine in long-term care homes, congregate settings that provide care for seniors and more rural and remote communities

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force

The covid 19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force is advising Ontario as it plans the immunization program and delivers vaccines.

The task force is advising and providing recommendations on:

  • how to deliver, store and distribute vaccines
  • support for partners in the health care system to deliver vaccinations in phases, beginning with vulnerable populations
  • clinical guidance to administer the vaccine and track vaccine uptake
  • reporting data and technology to provide timely, relevant and accurate information to health care providers, decision-makers and the public
  • public education and community outreach efforts to encourage people to get the vaccine

Members

  • General (retired) Rick Hillier, former Chief of Defence Staff for the Canadian Forces (chair)
  • Mario Di Tommaso, Deputy Solicitor General, Community Safety, Commissioner of Emergency Management (vice-chair)
  • Helen Angus, Deputy Minister of Health (vice-chair)
  • Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald of Taykwa Tagamou Nation
  • Dr. Isaac Bogoch, infectious diseases consultant and internist, Toronto General Hospital
  • Dr. Dirk Huyer, Ontario’s Chief Coroner and Coordinator of Provincial Outbreak Response
  • Angela Mondou, President and CEO, TECHNATION
  • Mark Saunders, former Toronto Police Chief
  • Dr. Maxwell Smith, bioethicist and assistant professor, Western University
  • Dr. Homer Tien, trauma surgeon and President and CEO, Ornge
  • Dr. Regis Vaillancourt, Director of Pharmacy, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario
  • Dr. Kieran Moore, Medical Officer of Health, Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington

Ex-officio members 

  • Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, Public Health
  • Matt Anderson, President and CEO, Ontario Health
  • Shawn Batise, Deputy Minister, Indigenous Affairs Ontario
  • Lynn Betzner, Deputy Minister, Intergovernmental Affairs & Associate Secretary of the Cabinet
  • Laurie LeBlanc, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Transportation
  • Giles Gherson, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
  • Karen Hughes, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Government and Consumer Affairs
  • Richard Steele, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Long-Term Care
  • Denise Cole, Deputy Minister for Seniors and Accessibility