Covid-19 Vaccine Information

COVID-19 – Vaccine FAQ

Last reviewed/updated: 7:40 am, May 11, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccine Home Page
COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Page

COVID-19 Vaccines FAQ – General Vaccine Questions

  1. How do mRNA vaccines work?
  2. Can an mRNA vaccine change a person’s DNA?
  3. Can the COVID-19 vaccine give me a COVID-19 infection?
  4. Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have an allergy to an ingredient in it?
  5. Who should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
  6. Can Pregnant or Breastfeeding individuals receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
  7. If I have been confirmed positive for COVID-19 in the past can I still receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
  8. Once I receive all doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, can I stop following COVID-19 guidelines?
  9. How was the vaccine approved so quickly?
  10. How are Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) reported?
  11. Is the vaccine mandatory? Do I have to get it?
  12. Is the AstraZeneca vaccine safe?
  13. How do the vaccines compare to one another?

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ – Clinic Vaccine Questions

14. Where can I sign up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
15. How do I sign up to volunteer for the immunization clinics?
16. If I have a secondary residence in Peterborough (ex. school or seasonal residence), can I get the vaccine here?
17. How long do I have to wait after receiving dose 1 of the vaccine to receive dose 2?
18. When I book an appointment, how will I know which vaccine I am getting?
19. I do not have an Ontario health card, how do I book? I have a red and white health card, how do I book?
20. How do I book an appointment for a single dose?
21. What can I expect at a vaccine clinic?
22. What is a vaccine appointment standby list? Can I be added to it?

1. How do mRNA vaccines work?

RNA’ stands for ribonucleic acid, which is a molecule that provides cells with instructions for making proteins. RNA vaccines contain the instructions for making the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. This protein is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19.

The mRNA molecule acts like a recipe, telling the cells of the body how to make the spike protein.

COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are given by injection into the muscle of the upper arm.

After the protein piece is made, the cell breaks down the instructions and gets rid of them. The mRNA never enters the central part (nucleus) of the cell, which is where our DNA (genetic material) is found.

The cell then puts the protein piece on outside. Our immune system recognizes that the protein doesn’t belong there and begins building an immune response and making antibodies.

Visit Health Canada for more information

2. Can an mRNA vaccine change a person’s DNA?

No. mRNA is not able to alter or modify a person’s genetic makeup (DNA). The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA are kept. This means the mRNA does not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Instead, COVID-19 vaccines that use mRNA work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop protection (immunity) to disease.

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3. Can the COVID-19 vaccine give me a COVID-19 infection?

No. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved do not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19.  These are mRNA vaccines. These vaccines train your immune system to recognize the COVID-19 virus and respond to it before it causes an infection. The COVID-19 vaccines have side effects, similar to any vaccine. These side effects are often mild and the result of the immune system training to recognize and respond to the vaccine.

It is also important to note that the vaccine’s protection is not optimal until about 2 weeks after the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. A person can still contract COVID-19 before they are fully protected.

4. Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have an allergy to an ingredient in it?

Individuals with a history of anaphylaxis or a known hypersensitivity to a component of the COVID-19 vaccine should consult their healthcare provider before booking an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Please review the vaccine consent form and speak to your healthcare provider if you have any questions about your health and the COVID-19 vaccine.

5. Who should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Please review the vaccine consent form and speak to your healthcare provider if you have any questions about your health and the COVID-19 vaccine.

For more guidance please visit the Guidance for Special Populations 

6. Can Pregnant or Breastfeeding individuals receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

It is recommended, but not required, that pregnant individuals and breastfeeding individuals have discussion with their treating health care provider, or with a health care provider familiar with their pregnancy or medical history. This consultation should include a review of the risks and benefits of the vaccine and the potential risks of acquiring COVID-19 while pregnant.

7. If I have been confirmed positive for COVID-19 in the past, can I still receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Individuals with previously PCR-confirmed COVID-19 can still receive the vaccine. However, all symptoms must be clear before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and a person MUST be out of their period of isolation.

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8. Once I receive all doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, can I stop following COVID-19 guidelines?

Public Health recommends that after receiving the vaccine you must continue to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines. This is because:
1) Current guidelines are based on case numbers not immunization rates. COVID-19 regulations will remain in place at this time. Once you receive the COVID-19 vaccine you will still be required to follow public health measures. The province will continuously review COVID-19 cases and regulations.
2) COVID-19 immunization in combination with mask use, washing hands regularly, and staying 2m distance will provide the best protection against COVID-19.  Experts need a better understanding of how long a vaccine provides immunity for and how many people in the population should receive the vaccine to provide community protection before regulations will be lifted.

For more information, please review the COVID-19 vaccine aftercare guidance.

9. How was the vaccine approved so quickly?

Due to the heightened need for a COVID-19 vaccine, Health Canada was able to quickly review the vaccine company’s data as it was made available to allow them to make a decision of approval. In instances where the product benefit outweighs the potential risk, health products can be approved with conditions to continue monitoring. The approval is supported by the evidence that the vaccine is safe, of good quality, and is effective at disease prevention. Data will continue to be collected as more people become immunized to ensure safety and efficacy, similar to any other vaccine. Review these pages for information on Pfizer BioNTech approval,  Moderna approval, and AstraZeneca approval.

10. How are Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) reported?

In Ontario, health professionals are required to report Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFIs) to their local public health unit. Public Health units investigate AEFIs and provide recommendations for future follow-up. This information is collected by the Public Health Agency of Canada and can signal a response for the vaccine to be reviewed further if necessary.

Please note – if you experience an AEFI please seek medical attention immediately. Call your healthcare provider or in an emergency please call 911. local public health units receive reports from your healthcare provider.

Health Canada reports all AEFIs related to the COVID-19 vaccine. Visit the Health Canada website for more information.

11. Is the vaccine mandatory? Do I have to get it?

The vaccine is not mandatory at this time. The decision to receive the vaccine is a personal decision. Take the time to review the facts from reputable sources and ask your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about complications with the vaccine.

12. Is the AstraZeneca vaccine safe?

The AstraZeneca vaccine has been authorized for use in Canada. Health Canada has confirmed the benefits of receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the risks. Learn more about the AstraZeneca approval here.

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13. How do the COVID-19 vaccines compare to one another?

Check out this document for a comparison of the COVID-19 vaccines. Please note – these figures are from clinical trials. More research is being conducted about the effectiveness of the vaccines at preventing COVID-19 infection and preventing serious illness.

14. Where can I sign up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Visit the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility guidance document to find information on personal vaccine eligibility.

Visit the COVID-19 vaccine clinic webpage for information on how to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

15. How do I sign up to volunteer for the immunization clinics?

A form is available on the Peterborough Public Health webpage that you can fill out.

16. If I have a secondary residence in Peterborough (ex. school or seasonal residence), can I get the vaccine here?

Vaccines are allocated to health units based on population size. it is recommended that you receive the vaccine in the area you live and avoid travelling to other regions. However, once you are eligible to receive the vaccine, you can book an appointment at any available clinic in the area. Remember that when you book an appointment, you book first and second doses at the same location. You need to go back to the same location to receive both doses.

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17. How long do I have to wait after receiving dose 1 of the vaccine to receive dose 2?

National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has provided guidance that doses can be given up to 16 weeks apart. Ontario now recommends 16 weeks between doses. Click here for rationale on the NACI recommendation. For more rationale on why the province has extended the interval between first and second dose, please review the Ministry of Health rationale.

18. When I book an appointment, how will I know which vaccine I am getting?

If you book through the provincial booking site, it will be either Pfizer or Moderna. At this time, AstraZeneca is only being administered through a few pharmacies in Peterborough and select physicians offices. For more information on vaccine eligibility please visit the vaccine clinic webpage.

Before you book an appointment, please view the consent form to make sure you can verbally consent at the time of your appointment.

19. I do not have an Ontario health card, how do I book? I have a red and white health card, how do I book?

You can only book a vaccine appointment if you are eligible to receive the vaccine. Please visit the PPH vaccine page for more information on who is eligible to book an appointment.

If you do not have a health card, A process is developed to ensure people without an Ontario health card are able to receive the vaccine. Please contact Peterborough Public Health at covidvaccine@peterboroughpublichealth.ca. Please note – this email will only reply to people that are eligible to book a vaccine appointment and do not have a valid Ontario health card

If you have a red and white health card,  please contact Peterborough Public Health at covidvaccine@peterboroughpublichealth.ca. Please note – this email will only reply to people that are eligible to book a vaccine appointment and do not have a valid Ontario health card

20. How do I book an appointment for a single dose?

At this time, the provincial booking system does not allow people to book a single dose appointment. While this issue is being resolved, please wait patiently to book a single dose appointment. PPH will alert people on social media and on the webpage when single dose appointments are able to be booked.

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21. What can I expect at a vaccine clinic?

Everything you need to know about attending a Peterborough vaccine clinic can be found here. 

You can also watch a video of the Evinrude clinic walk through here:

22. What is a vaccine appointment back-up list? Can I be added to it?

At the end of some clinic days there are leftover doses due to appointment cancellations or no-shows. The availability of these doses is unpredictable. As Peterborough Public Health does not want any doses wasted, a back-up list has been created. This is a list of individuals that are eligible to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment and waiting to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine that are willing to be called at any moment and are within close proximity to a vaccine clinic. This list only includes people who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at this time.

Being on this list does not guarantee that someone will be called to get the vaccine. All people on the list are strongly encouraged to still book a vaccine appointment.

To make sure the list only includes individuals that have not yet received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, PPH will only accept a certain amount of applications at a time. The application will open when more people are needed and close when the list is full.

Check out the vaccine clinic webpage to apply for the standby list.

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