4270 Innes Road, Ottawa, ON
Phone: 613-841-7009
Fax: 613-841-0106

COVID FAQ

COVID Testing

Here are answers to the most common questions we are asked about COVID testing.

01Should I be tested for COVID?

In order to help you decide if you should be tested for COVID-19, you can:

02Where can I get tested for COVID in Ottawa?

Consult the Ottawa Public Health website for the latest information about where to get tested for COVID in Ottawa (open link to web page in new tab).

Clinic

Here are answers to the most common questions we are asked about how COVID-19 has affected clinic hours, services, and processes.

01Does the clinic offer virtual appointments?

The clinic is a very busy place with nearly 25,000 patients calling us their family doctor.

The clinic provides services to many vulnerable patient populations that we need to keep safe.

Every person who enters the clinic potentially carries the COVID-19 virus (now that we know there is community spread) even if you have no symptoms. So every surface you touch, every person you are within 2 m of during a visit can potentially be infected. To effectively protect our vulnerable patients, our staff and our health care providers we must limit in office visits to those that are absolutely necessary.

We do not have adequate PPE to protect our health care providers in the event you have any type of respiratory symptom.

In order to continue providing all the necessary health care to our patients we have transitioned (as recommended) to providing primarily Virtual Care – either by telephone (all providers) or video (some providers).

In some cases you will have a Virtual Visit and then be asked to come to the clinic for an in person visit at the discretion of your provider (and assuming that you do not have any respiratory symptoms).

Please read the following information/disclosure regarding virtual visits:

COVID is placing stress on Canada’s public health system. Our clinic is starting to offer virtual care to make sure that we can continue to care for our patients safely and effectively. This means that we will be using video and audio technologies for some patient visits rather than asking all patients to come into our office. Some of these technologies are provided by the Province. Others have been provided by vendors like Google, or Apple to help make discussions with your care provider as easy as possible during these difficult times. Some health concerns can be addressed with virtual care alone, but in some cases your doctor may ask you to visit a hospital or other health care facility if necessary, for a physical examination.

We do our best to make sure that any information you give to us during virtual care visits is private and secure, but no video or audio tools are ever completely secure. There is an increased security risk that your health information may be intercepted or disclosed to third parties when using video or audio communications tools. To help us keep your information safe and secure, you can:

  • Understand that emails, calls, or texts you receive are not secure in the same way as a private appointment in an exam room.
  • Use a private computer/device (i.e., not an employer’s or third party’s computer/device), secure accounts, and a secure internet connection. For example, using a personal and encrypted email account is more secure than an unencrypted email account, and your access to the Internet on your home network will generally be more secure than an open guest Wi-Fi connection.
  • You should also understand that electronic communication is not a substitute for in-person communication or clinical examinations, where appropriate, or for attending the Emergency Department when needed (including for any urgent care that may be required).

If you are concerned about using video or audio tools for virtual care, you can ask our office to arrange for you to visit a different healthcare provider or other health care center where you can be seen in person. However, please note that visiting a health care provider in person comes with a higher risk of coming into contact with COVID-19 and the possibility of spreading the virus. By providing your information, you agree to let us collect, use, or disclose your personal health information through video or audio communications (while following applicable privacy laws) in order to provide you with care. In particular, the following means of electronic communication may be used: email (via Health Myself portal only), videoconferencing (including Ontario Telemedicine Network, Skype, Facetime, etc.).

02When should I come to the clinic?

Most people will have their health managed virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic. All doctors and allied health providers are offering telephone appointments. Some are offering video appointments. Your doctor will determine if an in clinic visit is required. If you do have an in-clinic appointment, the only door to the Superstore that is open is the one at the East Side (furthest from the clinic).

You should never come to the clinic if you have respiratory symptoms.

Please limit visits to the clinic for non-essential reasons (ie don’t walk in to schedule an appointment).

03Can I come to the clinic with a family member or friend?

Visitor limited to one (1) parent or caregiver per patient with a scheduled visit. All other persons accompanying the patient must wait outside. The only exception to this is for a single parent with minor children.

Patients with mobility issues requiring assistance may also be accompanied.

All persons entering the clinic must wear a mask that securely covers the nose, mouth, and chin as required by the Medical Officer of Health under the authority of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Action (EMCPA) Ontario regulation 263/20. Please refer to the City of Ottawa Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law (By-law No. 2020-186) for additional information and exemptions(opens in new tab).

04What kinds of routine care require an in-clinic appointment?
  • Prenatal visits.
  • Well baby care – 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12 months, 15 months, 18 months. There are important immunizations that we still want to make sure you get! (Visits at 9 months, 2 years, 3 years – can be delayed/skipped, or you could have a telephone visit to answer questions and check in on development).
  • Well child care – 4-6 year old immunizations. These immunizations can wait until close to the 6 year mark, so if your child is 5 ½ of older – book a visit in clinic. If your child is under 5 ½ – you can wait until the threat of COVID 19 has passed.
  • Well adolescent care – 14-16 year old immunizations. These immunizations can wait until close to the 16 year mark, so if your child is 15 ½ of older – book a visit in clinic. If your child is under 15 ½ – you can wait until the threat of COVID 19 has passed. If your child hasn’t had HPV/Human Papilloma Virus vaccine at school you may want to have this visit earlier so that you can have them immunized for HPV (it is ideal if this immunization is given prior to the onset of any type of sexual contact).
  • Cancer follow-up visits – depends on the kind of cancer and how long since your diagnosis – your doctor can advise you.
  • Follow-up Pap tests – if you were asked to have a follow up pap test in 6 months, make sure to keep this appointment.
  • Post-Hospital Discharge visits – this depends on the reason for the hospital stay. Your doctor can advise you if you need to come into the clinic.
  • If your complaint is about new musculoskeletal pain – you may need an in person visit. You will first be assessed by a telephone or video visit and your provider will advise you if you need to come into the office for an in person visit.
05What types of routine appointments can be delayed?
  • Complete physical/annual physical (especially as these are not meant to be assessing new problems or issues, they are supposed to be purely preventative).
06Are evening appointments still being offered?

Our clinic will be open from 8 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday.

Appointments will continue to be available from 4 pm to 8 pm via telephone or video only.

Please check our website frequently as our operating hours may change with little advance notice.

07Is the weekend walk-in clinic still being offered?

Weekend walk-in clinic hours are 9 am to 12 pm, with the phones being answered from 8 am to book appointments. All visits will be done via Telephone or Virtual Visits.

Please call the clinic at 613-841-7009 to be put on the list of patients to have a telephone or video appointment for the day.

Please check our website frequently as our operating hours may change with little advance notice.

08What should I do if I need a prescription renewed?

Our standard clinic policy of allowing up to 2 weeks for prescription renewals remains in effect.

Please remember that pharmacists are allowed to renew/extend your prescriptions unless it is a controlled substance. There has been some discussion of allowing pharmacist to renew controlled substances during the Pandemic – but this is not in effect yet as far as we know.

During the COVID 19 pandemic we still need to make sure that we are prescribing safely and effectively for you. Sometimes we will be able to extend your prescription without a phone/virtual visit, but we may also need to arrange for phone/virtual visits to make sure we are providing the best care possible during this difficult time

09What should I do if I need my doctor to complete a form or write a letter?

There may be delays in completing forms as we mobilize our resources to provide care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Please consider how urgent your forms and paperwork are before asking us to take time away from caring for patients to complete them. Consider checking with the 3rd party (work, insurance etc) if the forms are absolutely essential and if they can be delayed.

Please note that sick notes to excuse you from work due to self-isolation for respiratory symptoms or suspected COVID-19 infection should not be required on the advice of government. If your employer asks for one, the please use this note from Ottawa Public Health(opens in new tab).

As far as we understand – medical notes are not required for EI purposes for claims related to COVID-19 infection as well.

10What should I do if I am concerned about the health risks of attending work?

Workers who have risk factors for more severe COVID-19 infections who are concerned about their safety in the workplace should reach out to their doctor for advice.

We support the premise that all people should work from home whenever the type of work they do permits it.

We support the premise that social distancing should be implemented in workplaces where workers are required to attend the workplace.

If you feel that you are at risk in your workplace because your employer is not providing a safe work environment (ie changing the things that they can change to reduce your risk) you should contact the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development – Health and Safety(opens in new tab).

If your workplace is as safe as it can be and you are required to attend the workplace – but you still feel you are at higher risk reach out to your doctor for guidance.

At this time there are no clear cut guidelines or guidance on removing at risk workers from the workplace, it isn’t clear if these worker’s jobs would be protected and it isn’t clear if they would qualify for sick leave, disability or EI for their absence.

Vaccination

Here are answers to the most common questions we are asked about COVID vaccines and vaccination.

01How do the vaccines work?

Vaccines tell your body how to make a harmless protein found in the virus and start building antibodies that know how to fight the real virus if you come in contact with it.

02How effective are the vaccines? Can I still get COVID?

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are given in two doses using a needle in your upper arm. The same vaccine is used for your first and second dose. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are expected to be 94-95% effective after two doses.

03Do I still need to wear a mask after being vaccinated?

Yes. Studies are still underway to determine the effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing asymptomatic infection and reducing the transmission of COVID-19. For now, and until scientific experts say it’s safe to stop, it is important to continue to follow the advice of public health officials including maintaining a physical distance of two metres from people outside of your household, wearing a mask, practicing proper hand hygiene and limiting non-essential travel. These measures will help keep you, your loved ones and your community safe.

04How long will the vaccines last? Will I need to be vaccinated every year?

Studies are still underway to determine how long the vaccine will provide immunity. The government will keep the public informed as new data becomes available.

05Is there a microchip in the vaccines?

No.

06How are the vaccines different from the flu vaccine?

The COVID vaccine and the flu vaccine are very different and cannot be directly compared. They target different viruses. The flu vaccine has to combat several influenza viruses that mutate, while the COVID vaccines target just one virus: SARS-CoV-2.

07What if I don't get a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine?

It is important to receive both doses. Protection offered by the first dose is lower than what is achieved after the second dose. The vaccines are 94-95% effective after two doses.

08What ingredients are in the Pfizer vaccine?

Non-medical ingredients in the vaccine include:

  • ALC-0315 = (4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate);
  • ALC-0159 = 2-[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,Nditetradecylacetamide;
  • 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine;
  • cholesterol;
  • dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate;
  • monobasic potassium phosphate;
  • potassium chloride;
  • sodium chloride;
  • sucrose; and
  • water for injection.

Consult the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Information Sheet (open link to in new tab) for more information about the vaccines.

09What ingredients are in the Moderna vaccine?

Non-medical ingredients in the vaccine include:

  • 1, 2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DSPC);
  • acetic acid;
  • cholesterol;
  • lipid SM-102;
  • PEG2000 DMG 1,2-dimyristoyl-rac-glycerol, methoxypolyethyleneglycol;
  • sodium acetate;
  • sucrose;
  • tromethamine;
  • tromethamine hydrochloride; and
  • water for injection.

Consult the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Information Sheet (open link to in new tab) for more information about the vaccines.

10What ingredients are in the AstraZeneca vaccine?

Medical ingredients in the vaccine include:

  • Adenovirus vector vaccine.

Non-medical ingredients in the vaccine include:

  • 1, 2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DSPC);
  • acetic acid;
  • cholesterol;
  • lipid SM-102;
  • PEG2000 DMG 1,2-dimyristoyl-rac-glycerol, methoxypolyethyleneglycol;
  • sodium acetate;
  • sucrose;
  • tromethamine;
  • tromethamine hydrochloride; and
  • water for injection.

Consult the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Information Sheet (open link to in new tab) for more information about the vaccines.

11Are the vaccines safe?

Yes. Only vaccines that Health Canada has approved and determined are safe and effective will be administered in Ontario.

Health Canada has one of the most rigorous scientific review systems in the world. Health Canada only approves a vaccine if it is safe, it works, it meets manufacturing standards, and the benefits of being vaccinated outweigh the risks.

12What was the approval process for the vaccines?

Canada’s best independent scientists thoroughly reviewed all the data before approving the vaccines as safe and effective for Canadians. All safety steps were followed in approving these vaccines. The development of the COVID-19 vaccines progressed quickly for several reasons including: reduced time delays in the vaccine approval process, quick adaptation of existing research programs, international collaboration among scientists and governments, increased dedicated funding and quick recruitment of clinical trial participants.

View the Ministry of Health’s summary of the COVID-19 Vaccine Approval Process and Safety for further information.

13Should I be worried that the vaccines were developed so quickly?

No. Only vaccines that Health Canada has approved and determined are safe and effective will be administered in Ontario.

These vaccines were developed faster than before because of the never-beforeseen levels of collaboration and funding invested in this effort around the world.

The technology behind the vaccines has been around for more than 10 years and have already been used in animal models for influenza, zika virus, rabies virus, cytomegalovirus (CMV) and others. Because this advanced technology already existed, scientists were able to work quickly.

14Can the vaccines give me COVID?

No, the COVID-19 vaccine cannot give you COVID-19 or any other infectious disease. None of the Health Canada approved vaccines so far are live vaccines, meaning that they do not contain the virus that causes COVID-19.

It is important to remember that it typically takes a few weeks for the human body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it is possible for a person to become infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection. Even if you receive the vaccine, please continue to follow the public health measures to keep you, your loved ones and your community safe.

15Will I experience side effects from the vaccines?

Similar to medications and other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccines can cause side effects. The most common side effects include soreness at the injection site on your arm, a bit of tiredness, chills and/or a mild headache as the vaccine starts to work. During the clinical trials, the most frequent side effects were mild and resolved within a few days after vaccination.

These types of side effects are expected and simply indicate the vaccine is working to produce protection.

As with any medicines and vaccines, allergic reactions are rare but can occur after receiving a vaccine. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include hives (bumps on the skin that are often very itchy), swelling of your face, tongue or throat, or difficulty breathing. Most serious reactions will occur shortly after injection, and clinic staff are prepared to manage an allergic reaction should it occur. If you are concerned about any reactions you experience after receiving the vaccine, contact your health care provider. You can also contact your local public health unit to ask questions or to report an adverse reaction.

Serious side effects after receiving the vaccine are rare. However, should you develop any of the following reactions within three days of receiving the vaccine, seek medical attention right away or call 911:

  • hives;
  • swelling of the face or mouth;
  • trouble breathing;
  • very pale colour and serious drowsiness;
  • high fever (over 40°C);
  • convulsions or seizures; and/or
  • other serious symptoms (e.g., “pins and needles” or numbness).
16Do the vaccines have long-term side effects?

Ongoing studies on the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines indicate no serious side effects found to date. People who have received the vaccine in studies continue to be monitored for any longer-term side effects.

For more information on adverse events following immunization (AEFIs) or to report an AEFI visit Public Heath Ontario’s vaccine safety web page.

17Are the side effects from the second dose of the vaccine worse than the first dose?

Side effects are more likely to occur after your second dose of the vaccine. Since side effects are the result of your immune system building protection, once your immune system has been primed with the first dose then there is a much stronger immune response to the second dose (this is a good thing!).

18Has anyone died from getting a COVID vaccine?

No one is known to have died as a direct result of getting a COVID vaccine. Nearly two million people have died globally from COVID.

19Why shoud I get vaccinated?

A vaccine is the only foreseeable way to end the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic will not end until the majority of Canadians are vaccinated. You can protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community by getting vaccinated. While the vaccine will protect each of us individually, the primary goal of a vaccine program is to immunize the majority of the population so that COVID-19 can no longer spread.

The percentage of people that need to be vaccinated depends on how infectious the disease is and how effective the vaccine is at preventing spread of the disease.

The sooner a majority of Ontarians are vaccinated, the sooner our lives can return to normal.

20I'm not high risk. Do I really need to get vaccinated?

Globally, nearly two million people have died of COVID-19 in less than a year. COVID-19 does not discriminate, and anyone can become sick from the virus.

Even if a healthy person does not die of COVID-19 infection, they may have long-term complications that impact their ability to experience normal life, such as shortness of breath, fatigue, headaches, muscle/joint pain, cognitive impairment, cough and loss of taste and/or smell.

Even if you are not high-risk, there are other individuals in your community who may be high-risk and immunocompromised, which means their immune systems are not strong enough to receive a vaccine. When a majority of the community is vaccinated, this protects individuals who are immunocompromised because it reduces the chances that a virus can spread throughout the community and infect that immunocompromised individual who could not receive the vaccine.

21Should I delay vaccination until I see what happens to others?

The sooner a majority of Ontarians are vaccinated, the sooner our lives can return to normal. We need a majority of Ontarians to be vaccinated to end the pandemic.

We are working to distribute the vaccine to every corner of the province as soon as we receive sufficient supply. To ensure that everyone who wants to be vaccinated can be vaccinated safely and quickly, it is important that people who have access the vaccine are vaccinated the first time it is offered to them.

22Can I get vaccinated if I'm pregnant or trying to get pregnant?

People who are pregnant may be able to get the COVID vaccine.

People who were pregnant were excluded from the Phase III trials for the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna COVID vaccines. Therefore, there is limited data on the safety of the vaccines during pregnancy.

Pregnant individuals in the authorized age group may choose to receive the vaccine after counselling and informed consent that includes:

  • a review of the risks and benefits of the vaccine;
  • a review of the potential risks/consequences of a COVID-19 infection in pregnancy;
  • a review of the risk of acquiring a COVID-19 infection in pregnancy; and
  • an acknowledgment of the insufficiency of evidence for the use of current COVID-19 vaccines in the pregnant population.

If after this counselling by their treating provider the pregnant individual feels the potential benefits of vaccination outweigh the potential harms, they should be able to access the vaccine.

Individuals planning on becoming pregnant should speak with their primary care provider.

For additional information, consult the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada Statement on COVID-19 Vaccination in Pregnancy(opens in new tab).

23Can I get vaccinated if I'm breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding individuals may be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Breastfeeding individuals were excluded from the Phase III trials for the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. Therefore, there is no data on the safety of the vaccines in lactating individuals or the effects of mRNA vaccines on the breastfed infant or on milk production.

For any individuals who are breastfeeding, the COVID-19 vaccine should be offered after counselling and informed consent that includes recognizing the insufficiency of evidence for the use of COVID-19 vaccine in the breastfeeding population.

For additional information, consult the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada Statement on COVID-19 Vaccination in Pregnancy(opens in new tab).

24When can my kids get vaccinated?

So far, a vaccine has not been approved for children. Research is underway to determine when those under the authorized ages can receive the vaccine.

25Can my employer force me to get vaccinated?

The vaccine is not mandatory in Ontario.

26If I don't get vaccinated now, can I get vaccinated later and, if so, will I be placed at the end of the line?

Our goal is to ensure that everybody across Ontario who is eligible and who wants the vaccine can get it. The sooner the majority of Ontarians are vaccinated, the sooner our lives can return to normal. The pandemic will not be under control until the majority of Canadians are vaccinated. To ensure we can vaccinate everyone who wants to be vaccinated as safely and as quickly as possible, it is important that people who have access to the vaccine are vaccinated the first time it is offered to them.

27Can I still get vaccinated if I'm behind the regular immunization schedule?

Yes. We also encourage those who are behind on their immunizations to contact their health care provider to get up to date.

28Why am I not in a priority group?

As recommended by the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force and aligned with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, the province has adopted an approach for identifying the next groups to receive the vaccination as early as March 2021. As part of phase one, we are vaccinating the most vulnerable populations first, who have higher risk outcomes from contracting the virus and are at a higher risk of being exposed to and spreading the virus.

As Ontario gets more vaccine supply, the program will further expand to include additional groups. You can find more details about Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination program, including the various phases of the program at Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine web page.

Vaccine Distribution

Here are answers to the most common questions we are asked about COVID vaccine eligibility, availability, and distribution.

01Who determines when someone can get a vaccine?

The Government of Canada is responsible for approval and procurement of COVID-19 vaccine supply. The Government of Ontario is responsible for the distribution of these vaccines across the province. The Ethical Framework for COVID-19 vaccine distribution guides how the provincial government prioritizes and distributes vaccines across Ontario.

The City’s Emergency Operations Centre and Ottawa Public Health are doing everything possible to ensure Ottawa residents who want to receive the COVID-19 vaccine will be able to access it as quickly and efficiently as possible, dependent on vaccine supply and in alignment with the provincial framework. The total amount of vaccines that will be distributed to the City of Ottawa and precise delivery dates are not yet known. These decisions are made by the province and subject to vaccine procurement from the federal government.

Currently, the province has advised that they are adjusting vaccination plans in response to shipment delays. For the latest information, please refer to the Government of Ontario's Getting a COVID-19 vaccine in Ontario web page.

02How do I know if I am eligible for vaccination?

Ottawa residents can use this tool to determine whether they are currently eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The tool will be updated as new groups become eligible for vaccination.

Please revisit the tool periodically as eligibility will change as more people are vaccinated and more vaccines become available.

Note, you will have to provide proof to validate your responses in order to ensure your eligibility to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

03Where will I be able to get a COVID vaccine?

Various strategies will be used to distribute and administer vaccines across Ottawa, based on the quantity and type of vaccines received throughout 2021. The primary locations and strategies will include hospital clinics, community clinics, pharmacies, mobile vaccination teams, primary health care providers like family doctors and by other health care professionals such as nurses working in congregate living settings, including long-term care homes and shelters.

04Where will the community clinics be located?

The City of Ottawa is preparing up to seven community clinics to augment the Ottawa Hospital clinic and the clinic coming to the Queensway Carleton Hospital. Altogether, these clinics will have capacity to administer about 380,000 vaccines per month when vaccine supply increases. Vaccinations being done by mobile vaccination teams, pop-up clinics, pharmacies and primary care providers will add to that total. Some of the community clinics are now open but more can be operational within 72 hours in the event large amounts of vaccines become available. The community clinics will be located at:

  • Horticulture Building, 1525 Princess Patricia Way
  • Eva James Memorial Centre, 65 Stonehaven Drive
  • Peter Clark Facility, 255 Centrum Boulevard
  • Nepean Sportsplex, 1701 Woodroffe Avenue
  • Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Avenue West
  • St-Laurent Complex, 525 Côté Street
  • Canterbury Recreation Complex, 2185 Arch Street
  • The Ottawa Hospital - Civic Campus, 1053 Carling Ave
  • Queensway Carleton Hospital, 3045 Baseline Rd
  • Ruddy Family YMCA-YWCA, 265 Centrum Blvd
05When will the community clinics open?

Timelines for opening community clinics will depend on vaccine supply and community clinics will be opened incrementally as supplies increase. Under the province's phased in approach to vaccine roll-out, these community clinics are unlikely to be fully operational until Phase 2 (starting April 2021), subject to vaccine availability.

Once fully operational, these community clinics will operate from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm, seven days per week, and have the capacity to administer a total of nearly 11,000 vaccinations per day.

Pop-Up Clinics

Pop-up clinics are set up at a site for multiple days but are not permanent. Throughout the vaccination roll-out, pop-up clinics will be set up in different areas of the city to get the vaccines to people in high-risk areas where eligible residents may have a harder time accessing a clinic.

Mobile Vaccination Teams

To respond to these challenges while getting vaccines to the people who need it most, the Emergency Operation Centre has created mobile vaccination teams that include specially trained paramedics, community physicians, and public health staff among others. These teams were deployed to vaccinate residents of long-term care homes and retirement homes.

Throughout the vaccination roll-out, mobile vaccination teams will be deployed to reach targeted populations, including homeless and rural residents. They are currently being used to vaccinate residents in retirement homes.

These mobile vaccination teams work closely with Ottawa Public health and the city's hospital network. Pharmacists from The Ottawa Hospital and CHEO have been training members of the mobile vaccination teams in the process of vaccine dilution. This is an important step to ensuring the City can roll-out the vaccination program in the safest and most efficient manner possible, based on the supply made available by other levels of government.

06When will people in Ottawa start getting vaccinated?

The Ottawa Hospital administered the city’s first COVID-19 vaccine on December 15, 2020. Since then, thousands of vaccines have been administered in Ottawa to higher-risk populations and those that care for them in accordance with the Province’s phased approach to vaccine rollout(opens in new tab).

07When can the general public get vaccinated?

Starting August 2021, and depending on availability of vaccines, it is anticipated that all remaining eligible Ontarians in the general population who wish to be vaccinated will be offered a COVID-19 vaccine.

08Is there a list I need to be on to get vaccinated?

No. The City of Ottawa and Ottawa Public Health will undertake robust public information campaigns to keep residents informed on the vaccine rollout locally.

09When will I be eligible for vaccination?

The Province has started to roll out its three-phase vaccine distribution implementation plan(opens in new tab). All groups are identified by the provincial task force using its ethical framework for COVID-19 vaccine distribution(opens in new tab).

Phase 1: High-risk population vaccination
December 2020 to March 2021

Immediate priorities for first doses include:

  • staff, essential caregivers and any residents that have not yet received a first dose in long-term care homes, high-risk retirement homes, and First Nations elder care homes;
  • alternative level of care patients in hospitals who have a confirmed admission to a long-term care home, retirement home or other congregate care home for seniors
  • health care workers identified as highest priority, followed by very high priority, in the Ministry of Health’s guidance on Health Care Worker Prioritization(opens in new tab); and
  • Indigenous adults in northern remote and higher risk communities (on-reserve and urban).

When all reasonable steps have been taken to complete first doses of the vaccine for all interested individuals in the immediate category, first doses will be available to the remainder of the Phase 1 populations. This includes:

Phase 2: Mass deliveries of vaccines
April to July 2021 (depending on vaccine availability)

The Province of Ontario has identified the following groups as part of Phase 2 of the rollout plan:

  • older adults, beginning with those 79 years of age 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, education workers and the food processing industry;
  • individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers; and
  • other populations and communities facing barriers related to the determinants of health across Ontario who are at greater COVID-19 risk.

The provincial task force will use its Ethical Framework for Vaccine Distribution(opens in new tab) and the best available data to identify other priority populations within this phase, based on available vaccine supply.

Phase 3: steady state
August 2021 and beyond (depending on vaccine availability)

  • Vaccines available widely across Ontario for anyone in the general population who wants to be immunized. The ethical framework, data and available vaccine supply will help to prioritize groups in this phase.

These timelines are subject to change and are dependent on possible additional vaccine approvals and supply. For more information on vaccine sequencing in Ottawa, please visit Ottawa Public Health’s website(opens in new tab).

For the latest information, please refer to the Government of Ontario's Getting a COVID-19 vaccine in Ontario web page(opens in new tab).

10How will I be notified when it is my turn to get vaccinated?

Right now, vaccine supply is limited. As supply is expected to increase in the coming months, the City of Ottawa and Ottawa Public Health will be communicating through various media channels on who is eligible to present where for vaccination.

11I am an older adult but I do not live in a long-term care or retirement home. When can I get vaccinated?

On February 14, 2021, the Province of Ontario provided updated direction on the sequencing of Phase 1 priority populations for COVID-19 vaccination. Adults aged 80 and over (not living in congregate homes for seniors) are now part of Phase 1 of the provincial rollout plan, once supply increases. Previously, these older adults were in Phase 2.

Older adults, beginning with those 79 years and older and decreasing in five-year increments over the course of the vaccine rollout, are expected to be offered vaccines, depending on their availability, as part of Phase 2 of the province’s framework for prioritization.

12I am an essential worker. When can I get vaccinated?

Frontline essential workers, including: first responders, teachers and other education staff and food processing workers are expected to be offered vaccines in Phase 2 from April to August 2021. Specific timing will depend on the availability of vaccines, and the Province of Ontario is responsible for further defining the parameters of who is considered a frontline essential worker in the coming weeks. The Provincial 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.

13My spouse and I are seniors that fall into separate age categories. Will we get vaccinated at the same time?

Adults 80 years and older are part of Phase 1 of the provincial vaccine rollout plan. Adults 79 years of age and decreasing in five-year increments over the course of the vaccine rollout will begin in Phase 2.

As more information becomes available it will be posted on the Province’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan web page(opens in new tab).

14If I am the essential cargiver of a child with special needs or health issues that puts them at risk, when can I get vaccinated?

The Province of Ontario has predefined teachers and other education staff as essential workers under Phase 2 of the provincial vaccination roll-out plan. The Province is responsible for further defining who else is captured and included under Phase 2. At this time, specific information about the prioritization for caregivers of children with disabilities is not available, but we expect the province to have further direction on Phase 2 implementation in the coming weeks.

15Am I able to join a wait list to be prioritized for vaccination?

At this time, there is no sign-up or waiting list. Eligibility is based on the Government of Ontario’s three-phase distribution plan. The vaccine will be distributed to populations of highest priority and based on vaccine supply.We know many people are anxious to be immunized for COVID-19, including those who are considered higher-risk or have other underlying health conditions. Please continue to follow all public health guidelines to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

As more information becomes available it will be posted to the Province’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan web page(opens in new tab)

16Is getting a COVID vaccine voluntary?
Yes. COVID-19 vaccines will not be mandatory, but you are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated.
17How do I decide if vaccination is the right choice for me and my family?

Feeling worried or hesitant is completely normal when something is new. Vaccination is a personal choice, and one that most Canadians agree is an important part of maintaining good health and for disease prevention.

18Why should I get vaccinated?

Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread and reduce the impact of infectious diseases. Safe and effective vaccines for COVID-19 are becoming available to protect us against COVID-19. While many people infected with COVID-19 experience only mild illness, others may get a severe illness or even die. There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you, even if you are not considered to be at increased risk of severe complications. COVID-19 vaccination helps protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience the illness itself.

19Can I get the vaccine if I have tested positive for COVID?

Yes. Those who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 should still be vaccinated and people do not need COVID-19 testing prior to vaccination.

20How are we engaging the community and specific groups like Indigineous, seniors, and racialized communities?

Ottawa Public Health has established a local Vaccine Sequence Strategy Task Force to advise the City’s Emergency Operations Centre on how to implement the sequence of vaccines given local context, including maximizing uptake among groups sequenced ahead of others. This Task Force includes representation from groups highly affected by COVID-19, such as newcomers, Indigenous, racialized people, older adults, and healthcare workers. The Vaccine Sequencing Task Force relies on the framework established by the Province of Ontario.

21What can I do now and how can I help?

It will be several months until a vaccine is available to the general public. In the meantime, it is essential that we all continue to do our part to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in the community: limit your close contacts to those within your household, practice physical distancing, wear a mask, wash your hands, stay home except for essential reasons and follow local and provincial guidance.

Until vaccines are widely available, it remains important to take steps to protect yourself, your loved ones and our community against COVID-19. Learn more about things you can do to reduce virus spread by following OPH on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. To keep up-to-date with the latest information, follow “COVID Decoded”(opens in new tab) with Dr. Trevor Arnason, on OPH’s YouTube channel.

22Do I need to continue wearing a mask after being vaccinated?

While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue practicing public health measures(opens in new tab) to help stop the spread of COVID-19. That means covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often and never touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, staying at least 2 metres (6 feet) away from others and self-isolating when sick. Health care and other staff must still wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when working, even after they have been vaccinated.

23How long until things "get back to normal"?

COVID-19 vaccination, along with continued public health measures, will offer the best protection from the spread of COVID-19. Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines afford before determining any change in public health guidelines. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect these decisions.

Once a person is vaccinated with the series of two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, they should continue following public health measures like wearing a mask, physical distancing and self-isolating when they become sick.

24Can I volunteer to assist with vaccine distribution?

At this time, plans have not been finalized for the use of volunteers to assist with immunization clinics given the availability of vaccine supply remains unknown. However, those looking for information on volunteering can contact COVID19Volunteer@ottawa.ca(opens mail app). If volunteers are needed, you may be contacted to assist.

25What mental health resources are available to those feeling anxious about vaccine availability?

If you are in crisis, please contact the Mental Health Crisis Line(opens in new tab) (24 hours a day/7 days a week) at 613-722-6914 or if outside Ottawa toll-free at 1-866-996-0991.

Please visit Ottawa Public Health’s Mental Health and COVID-19 web page(opens in new tab) for an extensive list of resources, including a printable version of a Mental Health and COVID-19 Resource List(opens in new tab).