The Ontario Ministry of Health expects to get the updated COVID-19 booster later in September. Get your yearly flu vaccine and updated COVID-19 booster as soon as they are available.
It is important for everyone to stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations for the best protection against getting very sick.
As of July 7th 2023, the Ontario Ministry of Health recommends getting the bivalent Omicron-containing mRNA vaccines to start or complete a primary series for everyone six months of age and older. Residents who did not get a booster dose are recommended to wait to get it in the fall 2023. Getting a bivalent mRNA booster dose in the fall, when the respiratory season starts and the virus spreads the most, gives the best protection against the COVID-19 virus.
A booster dose is given six months after a COVID-19 vaccine dose or a COVID-19 infection. Even if you recently had COVID-19, getting vaccinated gives hybrid immunity for stronger and longer lasting immunity.
COVID-19 vaccines teach our immune system to make antibodies that protect us from the COVID-19 virus. Staying up to date with your COVID-19 vaccination, including any booster dose(s) when eligible, will reduce the risk of getting, spreading, and becoming seriously sick with COVID-19. It can also help lower the risk of long COVID. None of the vaccines contain COVID-19 and cannot give you the virus.
The vaccine is given using a needle in your upper arm. It takes at least two weeks after getting a vaccine dose to be protected. Most COVID-19 vaccines require two doses to complete a primary series. Boosters give the best protection for anyone 5 years of age and older.
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Spikevax vaccines are ‘messenger RNA’ or ‘mRNA’ vaccines. This means they use mRNA to give our cells instructions to make antibodies. The mRNA does not change our DNA. mRNA vaccines are interchangeable which means that they are very similar and either vaccine can be used.
Bivalent means that the vaccine targets two strains of COVID-19 – the original strain and Omicron. The bivalent vaccine can give better protection against highly contagious Omicron variants..
If you started a primary series with:
Learn more about how the mRNA vaccines work .
Health Canada has approved the following mRNA vaccines:
Based on the Moderna Bivalent clinical trials :
Based on the Pfizer Bivalent approval:
NACI and Public Health Ontario will continue to closely monitor any potential adverse effects.
For eligibility information, visit our Vaccines Eligibility & Doses page.
Myocarditis and pericarditis are types of inflammation in different parts of the heart. In Canada, there have been rare reports of myocarditis/pericarditis after getting a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine. The situation is being closely monitored.
Most people who have gotten myocarditis/pericarditis after vaccination had a mild illness and symptoms went away without any concerns about long-term complications. Getting a COVID-19 infection puts you at more serious risk of myocarditis/pericarditis. For this reason, vaccination is still recommended as the benefits outweigh the risks.
The risk of myocarditis/pericarditis after a booster dose is lower compared to the second dose in the primary series. Current data does not show a difference in myocarditis/pericarditis risk between Moderna and Pfizer after a booster dose in adults.
See Myocarditis and Pericarditis After Covid-19 Vaccines for more information.
Most vaccine side effects are mild and last for 1-3 days.
Severe side effects are rare. Get medical attention right away if you develop any of these symptoms after getting a vaccine:
Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) are aware of the recent announcement made by the Centre of Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding the possible new COVID-19 vaccine safety signal between the Pfizer bivalent COVID-19 vaccine and strokes in people aged 65 and over.
Currently, in Canada, available data shows that there are no safety concerns related to stroke and mRNA bivalent vaccines. There have been no changes to the vaccine recommendations at this time by the CDC or Health Canada. Health Canada and PHAC continue to monitor the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada and will take appropriate action as needed.
The Novavax Nuvaxovid vaccine (also known as Novavax) is approved for people who are unable (due to allergy) or unwilling to get a mRNA vaccine:
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) strongly recommends mRNA vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna) for all eligible age groups because they are safer and more effective.
Novavax is a ‘protein subunit’ vaccine that targets the (original monovalent) COVID-19 strain. It uses small pieces of a protein that look like the spikes on the COVID-19 virus. These proteins teach our immune system to make antibodies that recognize and fight COVID-19.
Some people may have mild to moderate side effects from this vaccine that may last one to three days. Common side effects include redness, pain or swelling at the injection site, mild fever, headache, feeling tired, muscle aches, joint pain, nausea and/or vomiting. Contact your health provider if side effects do not go away after 3 days.
Myocarditis and pericarditis are types of inflammation in different parts of the heart that can occur after getting COVID-19 and be serious. This has rarely occurred after getting Novavax and is being closely monitored. Get medical attention if you develop chest pain, shortness of breath, or racing heartbeat after vaccination.
People with a serious allergy to another COVID-19 vaccine or polyethylene glycol (PEG) can consider getting Novavax.
An AEFI is any time you feel unwell more than what you were told to expect after receiving a vaccine. If you think you are experiencing an AEFI, contact your health care provider and let them know you feel unwell and recently received a vaccine.
AEFIs are reported by your health care provider to Toronto Public Health (TPH), who helps your provider investigate if your illness was caused by the vaccination. TPH reports AEFIs to the Ontario Ministry of Health, Public Health Ontario, and the Public Health Agency of Canada to make sure that vaccines are as safe as possible, even after they are approved. Companies that produce vaccines do not help with investigations of AEFIs, but they are aware of reports for the safety of their products.
More information: Vaccine Injury Support Program (VISP).
The vaccine contains an active ingredient that gives our body instructions to make antibodies. Other vaccine ingredients include lipids (fats), salts, sugars and buffers.
COVID-19 vaccines do not contain eggs, gelatin (pork), gluten, latex, preservatives, antibiotics or aluminum.
People with severe allergies to any of the vaccine ingredients should speak with their physician/allergist about getting the vaccine. Some people with allergies to an ingredient can still be safely vaccinated.
If you get a serious reaction after your first dose, talk to your health care provider about future vaccinations. Sometimes you can still be safely vaccinated, or can received a different vaccine.
Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is in the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, including the bivalent boosters. PEG can also be found in laxatives, makeup, skin care products, personal lubricants, toothpastes, and some contact lenses. It is also in cough syrup, over-the-counter medications, and in some food and drinks.
Tromethamine is in the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccine, including bivalent boosters. It helps to make the vaccine stable. Tromethamine can be found in dyes used for CT or MRI scans, medications, cosmetics, perfumes and skin creams.
Polysorbate-80 is in the Novavax (NUVAXOVID) vaccine. It is used to hold (or bind) the vaccine ingredients together. Polysorbate-80 can be found in most processed food, sauces, condiments, soups, ice cream, chewing gum, soaps, creams, bath gels, shampoo, body butter, cosmetics, vitamins, heart medication and contraceptives (birth control).
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada , the Ontario Ministry of Health and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) strongly recommend staying up-to-date with your COVID-19 vaccines when planning a pregnancy, while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Getting COVID-19 while you are pregnant puts you at higher risk of getting very sick and being hospitalized. Preventing COVID-19 is even more important when you are pregnant – follow public health measures to lower your risk.
COVID-19 vaccines are recommended even if you already had a COVID-19 infection.
Learn more about previous COVID-19 infection.
Talk to your health care provider if you have questions about getting vaccinated and to understand the benefits of getting the vaccine compared to the risks of getting the COVID-19 infection. For most people, getting a COVID-19 vaccine is the safest choice.
See COVID-19: Where to Get Vaccinated to find a vaccine clinic near you.
There is no evidence the vaccines impact fertility, menstrual irregularities, puberty, or normal growth and development.
The main ingredient in the vaccine is mRNA and that lasts in your body for a few days before it is removed from the body. The body develops an immune response in the first few weeks after vaccination. Some may have a temporary change in their menstrual cycle because of this immune response. A menstrual cycle can also temporarily change from everyday life including stress, changes in weight and exercise. The World Health Organization recommends not delaying vaccination if menstruating.
A COVID-19 infection can also affect menstruation. For example, in one study, one out of five patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection had temporary changes in the length of their cycle and the amount of bleeding.
People with stable health conditions can get vaccinated. Conditions include: diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, respiratory diseases, including asthma or COPD, hepatitis B, C and HIV.
People with a weak immune system because of illness, treatment or an autoimmune condition:
See our COVID-19: Vaccine Resources page