Program Category: COVID-19

COVID-19 Testing & Vaccine

     

COVID-19 Testing & Vaccine

Speak to a health professional about your vaccine questions:

  • Toronto Public Health Hotline: 416-338-7600, press 8 (translation available)
  • Telehealth Ontario: 1-866-797-0000 (other languages available)
  • Vax Facts Clinic: 416-438-2911 ext. 5738

COVID-19 Outreach Centres in East Toronto:

COVID-19 Vaccine Information:

We highly recommend that everyone who is eligible to get a vaccine against COVID-19, should do so. Vaccines are safe and effective. They are the best way to protect you, your loved ones, and our wider community from serious illness and to help life get back to normal as quickly as possible. What is available? Right now in Ontario, vaccines are being offered through multiple avenues.

  • City-operated clinics, which are run through Toronto Public Health, are offering the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
  • Hospital-run clinics are also offering Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
  • Local pharmacies are offering the AstraZeneca vaccine

Who is eligible?

How to Book your Vaccine

How to book your Vaccine

There are several options to book an appointment. The easiest ways to book appointments are:

In East Toronto, Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) and East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP) are administering the COVID-19 vaccine. For more information about booking an appointment please see here: COVID-19 Vaccine Information for East Toronto | Michael Garron Hospital, Toronto East Health Network (MGH/TEHN)

For those not sure which clinic location is most convenient or looking for directions, a map of vaccination options in Toronto is on the City’s COVID-19: Vaccine Clinic Locations webpage: www.toronto.ca/COVID19vaccinemap.

COVID-19 VACCINE: Third Dose Appointments

Third dose appointments are scheduled according to the COVID-19 vaccine dosing interval set by the provincial government. We have a limited number of vaccines and vaccine clinics.

In Ontario, third dose appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine are to be scheduled at least 84 days from the second dose for most populations

If you use SRCHC’s services and are having difficulty accessing the COVID vaccine elsewhere, please call us at 416-461-2493 to inquire about the possibility of obtaining it with us.

EXEMPTIONS FROM THE 84 DAY DOSING INTERVAL FOR 3RD DOSE

Some populations who are at very high risk are eligible to receive the third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine 56 days from the first dose. This includes:

  1. Individuals receiving dialysis (hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis)
  2. Individuals receiving active treatment (e.g., chemotherapy, targeted therapies, immunotherapy) for solid tumour or hematologic malignancies
  3. Recipients of solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy
  4. Recipients of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T-cell therapy or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (within 2 years of transplantation or taking immunosuppression therapy)
  5. Individuals with moderate to severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  6. Individuals with stage 3 or advanced untreated HIV infection and those with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
  7. Individuals receiving active treatment with the following categories of immunosuppressive therapies: anti-B cell therapies2 (monoclonal antibodies targeting CD19, CD20 and CD22), high-dose systemic corticosteroids, alkylating agents, antimetabolites, orbtumor-necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors and other biologic agents that are significantly immunosuppressive

There are several options to book an appointment. The easiest ways to book appointments are:

In East Toronto, Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) and East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP) are administering the COVID-19 vaccine. For more information about booking an appointment please see here: COVID-19 Vaccine Information for East Toronto | Michael Garron Hospital, Toronto East Health Network (MGH/TEHN)

For those not sure which clinic location is most convenient or looking for directions, a map of vaccination options in Toronto is on the City’s COVID-19: Vaccine Clinic Locations webpage: www.toronto.ca/COVID19vaccinemap.

Vaccine FAQ

The first vaccines are being given to higher-risk people and healthcare workers. But we look forward to when you all will have access to the vaccine. We do not yet know the place or the timing and we will communicate this when we doSome questions have arisen that we wanted to answer at this stage:

  • Appropriate steps taken– The vaccines were developed so fast because it was a top priority for everyone in the field and billions of dollars from governments and companies around the world were spent on getting it developed. The scientific world cooperated in ways they had not before.
  • New technology– mRNA has been studied and used for cancer treatments for upwards of 30 years, but this is the first vaccine using the technology. There are two vaccines made this way (Pfizer and Moderna). mRNA vaccines cannot give someone COVID-19 as they do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19. They also do not affect or interact with our DNA in any way.In addition, Health Canada also approved two more vaccines; one developed by AstraZeneca and the other by Janssen (Johnson & Johnson). These two COVID-19 vaccines use a different technology than mRNA; they are viral-vector based vaccines, which uses a harmless virus, such as an adenovirus (similar to the common cold) as a delivery system. There are many different types of adenoviruses, and many have been used as delivery systems for other vector-based vaccines for decades. Like the mRNA technology, this vaccine cannot give you COVID-19 as it does not use the live virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Effectiveness– All of the approved vaccines have a high efficacy rate against severe disease, although the exact rate may vary between the vaccines. No matter which vaccine you get, it will offer significant protection against COVID-19. The more people that get vaccinated, the more effectively we can reduce the rates of illness and death from COVID-19 in our communities. The best vaccine is the one that is available to you.

AstraZeneca Vaccine Safety FAQ

Click here for English print version: AZVaccineFAQ

Why did the Ontario government decide to pause use of the AstraZeneca vaccine?

The AstraZeneca vaccine is associated with a syndrome involving unusual blood clots and reduced platelets. This syndrome is called VITT (Vaccine-Induced Thrombotic Thombocytopenia)/VIPIT (Vaccine Induced Prothrombotic Immune Thrombocytopenia). It happens between 4 and 28 days after the vaccine and occurs in around 1 in every 50,000 injections. You can read more about VITT here.

The Ontario government has made the decision to pause the use of AstraZeneca because of the small risk of VITT and because we will very soon have enough other vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) to vaccinate everyone in Ontario even without the AstraZeneca vaccine. Canada as a whole has not decided to pause the AstraZeneca COVID Vaccine (yet). Vaccine supply is also a factor being taken to account with Ontario’s recent decision to pause and other provinces have been facing supply challenges.

I got the AstraZeneca vaccine. Did I make the wrong decision? Was I misled?

You made the right decision at the time, especially given the variants of concern! We are in a pandemic and what we know is constantly changing based on new research and data that is released.

VITT is rare, so it wasn’t picked up in the early trials that included ~20,000 people. But now millions of people around the world have had the AstraZeneca vaccine. Global reporting systems picked up on this rare side effect.

At first, we thought it was happening in only 1 in a million doses. But on Friday, May 7th, the Ontario Science Table issued a new report that clarified that VITT is estimated to occur in 1 in 50,000 doses of AstraZeneca, which is a lot more common than we thought.

As healthcare professionals, we encouraged people to get the AstraZeneca vaccine last month because the benefits of preventing COVID-19 outweighed the risks of a serious reaction. However, now we know that the risks are higher than we thought they were.

Does VITT/VIPT occur with other vaccines?

VITT/VIPT seems to occur with both the AstraZeneca and the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which are both types of “viral vector vaccines”. It does not appear to happen with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are mRNA vaccines.

Am I at risk of VITT (Vaccine-Induced Thrombotic Thombocytopenia)/ VIPIT (Vaccine Induced Prothrombotic Immune Thrombocytopenia)?

  • I received the AstraZeneca vaccine more than 28 days ago. – NO
  • I received a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. – NO
  • I received the AstraZenca vaccine within the last 28 days. – A VERY SMALL CHANCE: Please note that after a vaccination, it is normal to feel tired, achy, feverish, have soreness at injection site, or a mild headache within the first 3 days. THOSE ARE NOT SIGNS OF VITT.

If you experience any have any of the following severe symptoms, call 911:             

Severe headache that does not go away, seizure, difficulty moving part of your body, new blurry vision or double vision that does not go away, difficulty speaking, shortness of breath, severe chest, back, or abdominal pain, unusual bleeding or bruising, new reddish or purplish spots, or blood blisters, new, severe swelling, pain, or colour change of an arm or a leg.

If your symptoms are not severe, you can discuss them (virtually or in-person) with your doctor, nurse practitioner or nurse.

Special Considerations for Priority Populations

Contraindications

There are very few circumstances in which someone should not get the COVID vaccine, which are:

  • Anaphylactic reaction to a previous dose of an mRNA vaccine
  • Anaphylactic reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccines
  • Age 15 and under for the Pfizer vaccine, age 17 and under for all other vaccines
  • Receiving another vaccine in the past 14 days (you will need to wait for 2 weeks to pass between your vaccine and getting the COVID vaccine)
  • Symptoms of COVID infection or confirmed COVID infection (you will need to wait until you are better to get the vaccine)

Pregnancy/breastfeeding

  • Pregnant and chest/breastfeeding people were not included in trials for the currently available vaccines. However, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ of Canada has stated that people “who are pregnant or breastfeeding should be offered vaccination at anytime if they are eligible and no contraindications exist…the risk of infection and/or morbidity from COVID-19 outweighs the theorized and undescribed risk of being vaccinated during pregnancy or while breastfeeding” The Ontario Ministry of Health guidance states that pregnant people should discuss risks and benefits with a healthcare provider familiar with their pregnancy – this can be your obstetrician, midwife, or primary care provider. The Ministry also point out that mRNA vaccines are not live vaccines and are not expected to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant. If you are pregnant or chest/breastfeeding, you should discuss the risks and benefits with your healthcare provider to help you make an informed decision about receiving the vaccine. For more information, see the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada Statement on COVID-19 Vaccination in Pregnancy

Allergies

  • People who have had a severe allergic reaction (i.e., anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of an mRNA vaccine or any of the ingredients in the vaccine should not receive it. We will discuss any allergies or other health conditions you may have before you receive the vaccine. If needed, we can seek input from an allergist-immunologist. If you have allergies to other things (e.g. foods, medication, insect stings) you can still get the COVID vaccine, even if those allergies are severe. For more information, see the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology statement on COVID-19 vaccination

Autoimmune Conditions/Immunocompromised

  • If you have an autoimmune or immunodeficiency condition, or are immunosuppressed due to disease or treatment, you should discuss the COVID vaccine with your specialist, or your primary care provider if you don’t have a specialist.You will go over the benefits and risks of vaccination given your particular situation and come to a decision together. People with these conditions were not included in the trials for the currently available vaccines, although vaccination may be a good idea for you to reduce your risk of getting a COVID-19 infection.

For more information about specific conditions see below:

Children and adolescents

  • Health Canada, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson do not currently recommend administering the vaccines to children. Children often need a different dose than adults, may show stronger immune reactions, and were largely excluded from the vaccine trials. Currently, the Pfizer vaccine is not authorized for those under 16. The Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are not authorized for those under 18. Children aged 12-15 that are at very high risk of exposure for the virus (e.g. living in a congregate care home) and are at very high risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID (e.g. pre-existing medical conditions) may be able to get the Pfizer vaccine. If you think your child is in this situation, call your child’s pediatrician or primary care provider to discuss the options. For the vast majority of families, the best way to protect your children is to make sure all adults in your household get the vaccine.

Religious considerations

What’s next?

If you have more questions about the vaccines please look at the resources we have listed on this page or talk to your healthcare provider. It is important to educate yourself about the vaccine so you are ready when it is available to you.  Please keep a close eye on your local news channels, government websites, and the SRCHC website to know when it is your turn to receive the vaccine and how you can receive it.

Stay up to date on vaccination developments: