COVID-19 Vaccine: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

As the COVID-19 vaccine gradually becomes more available in Ottawa, more questions are arising that need answering. City Councillors were recently provided with a comprehensive list of answers to the most frequently asked questions by residents relating to the vaccine. Some of these answers are tentative to change in the coming weeks and days, but for now I hope this helps answer some of your questions about the vaccine.  

Please continue physical distancing, follow the stay-at-home order, wear a mask, and only make essential trips out in public. It is important to note that new information on COVID-19 vaccines is emerging from the senior levels of government every day. Federal and provincial vaccine distribution timelines are in flux given the limited supply of vaccines currently available. 

Stay healthy, be safe and COVIDwise.  

1. When will people in Ottawa start getting vaccinated against COVID-19?

A. 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.

2. Who is determining who can get a COVID-19 vaccine and when?

A. 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.

3. When will I be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine, and who comes next in  Ottawa? 

A. The Province has started to roll out a three-phased vaccine distribution implementation plan as follows:

Phase 1 – Starting December 2020: Limited doses of the vaccine available  for residents, essential caregivers, staff and other employees of long-term  care homes, retirements homes, and other congregate settings caring for  seniors at high-risk; eligible health care workers in accordance with the  Ministry of Health guidance; first Nation communities and urban Indigenous

populations, and adult chronic home care recipients.

Phase 2 – Starting March 2021: Increasing stock of vaccines, available to  older adults, beginning with those 80 and older, people who live and work  in high-risk congregate settings (for example, shelters, community living),  frontline essential workers, including first responders, teachers, food  processing workers, individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their  caregivers, and other populations and communities who are at greater  COVID-19 risk.

Phase 3 – Starting August 2021: Vaccines available widely across Ontario  for anyone in the general population who wants to be immunized.

These timelines are subject to change subject to possible additional  vaccine approvals and supply. Please check the provincial website for the  latest on vaccine distribution in Ontario. These decisions are made by the  Province and subject to vaccine availability from the Federal government.  For more information on vaccine sequencing in Ottawa, please visit  Ottawa Public Health’s website.

In the coming weeks, the focus will be to administer second doses to  those who have already received their first dose of the vaccine. The  timeline for completion is dependent on the supply of vaccine the city  receives from the Province.

As supply allows, the focus will shift to higher risk retirement homes  identified by OPH in accordance with the ethical framework. Select  congregate care settings for older adults and high-risk healthcare workers  will follow under Phase 1 of the Provincial approach. Other Phase 1  populations to be immunized are adult members of First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities and adults with chronic home care.

4.I am an older adult, but I don’t live in a long-term care or retirement home. When can I be vaccinated against COVID-19?

A. Older adults, beginning with those 80 and older and decreasing in five-year increments over the course of the vaccine rollout are expected to be offered vaccines starting in March 2021, depending on availability of vaccines.

5. I am an essential worker. When can I be vaccinated against COVID-19?

A. 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 March to July 2021. Specific timing will depend on availability of vaccines. 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.

6. When can the general public get vaccinated against COVID-19?

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

7. Where will I be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19?

A. 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 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.

 8. Where will the community clinics be located?

A. The City of Ottawa and Ottawa Public Health have pre-identified four locations for community clinics to administer vaccines:

▪ Horticulture Building, 1525 Princess Patricia Way

▪ Eva James Memorial Centre, 65 Stonehaven Drive

▪ Peter Clark Facility, 255 Centrum Boulevard

▪ Nepean Sportsplex, 1701 Woodroffe Avenue

The City will open additional clinics if vaccine supply allows. The City in  collaboration with Ottawa Public Health will also deploy mobile vaccination  teams to areas of the city that are disproportionally impacted by COVID-19.

9. When will the community clinics open?

A. The city’s community clinics are not currently in operation. They are ready to open subject to vaccine availability. Under the Province’s phased approach to vaccine roll-out, these community clinics are unlikely to be operational until Phase 2 (starting March 2021), depending on availability

of vaccines. More details will follow in the coming weeks.

Once open, the four pre-identified community clinics will have the capacity  to administer 1,200 vaccines per day at each clinic. They will operate 7- days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. to ensure resident access.

10. Is there a list I need to be on to get the vaccine?

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

11. How will I be notified when it’s my turn to get the vaccine?

A. Right now, vaccine supply is very 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.

12. Is getting the COVID-19 vaccine voluntary?

A. Yes. COVID-19 vaccines will not be mandatory, but you are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated.

13. What can I do now and how can I help? 

A. 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 distance, 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” with Dr. Trevor Arenson, on  OPH’s YouTube channel.

14. How do I decide if vaccination is the right choice for me and my family? 

A. 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.

15. Why should I get vaccinated against COVID-19? 

A. 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.

16. Will I need to continue wearing mask after being vaccinated? 

A. 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 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 face covering.

17. Can people who have already tested positive for COVID-19 get a COVID-19  vaccine?  

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

18. How long until “things are back to normal”? 

A. 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.

19. How are we engaging the community and specific groups like indigenous,  seniors, racialized communities? 

A. The City of Ottawa Emergency Operations Centre has established a  Community Engagement Task Force. The goal of this Task Force is to use  community engagement approaches to inform the Vaccination Plan and to  encourage and support populations at highest risk and facing additional  barriers to attend vaccination clinics. This will involve sharing culturally  appropriate, and accessible information with diverse populations to  promote vaccine uptake and address vaccine hesitancy and engaging with  communities through existing networks to ensure their perspectives and  needs are considered in the planning process for vaccine implementation.

More information  

Ottawa Public Health – COVD-19 Vaccine 

Vaccines Work- Myths about vaccines 

COVID-19 vaccines for Ontario 

COVID-19 vaccine safety 

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine in Ontario