The COVID-19 XBB vaccine is available for eligible residents at select pharmacies and primary care providers. Novavax vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine for children 6 months to 4 years of age are available at Toronto Public Health clinics. Please call 416-338-7600 to book an appointment if eligible.

Staying up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccines is important to protect the most vulnerable people in our community from serious illness, including hospitalization and death.

The National Advisory on Immunization (NACI) and Ontario Ministry of Health recommends a dose of a mRNA XBB COVID-19 vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer) or Novavax XBB for the best protection among our most vulnerable who are eligible.

For more information and guidance about mRNA and Novavax vaccine please see Canadian Immunization Guide.

The COVID-19 vaccines protect us from the COVID-19 virus. They teach our immune system to make antibodies that protect against COVID-19. These antibodies can recognize and attack the virus when it enters the body. The vaccines cannot give you COVID-19.

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. It is safe to get the vaccine at the same time as most other vaccines, except for the RSV and MPOX vaccines.

COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect from getting very sick or experiencing long-term problems from a COVID-19 infection. They are a safer way to build protection than getting sick with COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines:

  • Protect people from getting very sick from COVID-19, including:
    • Going to the hospital
    • Getting myocarditis or pericarditis (heart inflammation)
    • Getting multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C), a serious reaction in children that often leads to ending up in the hospital and the ICU (Intensive Care Unit)
    • In some cases, death
  • Protects against long COVID, where symptoms last for weeks or months after an infection
  • Protect people who are at higher risk of getting very sick from a COVID-19 infection, including older adults, young children, and people who are pregnant and/or breastfeeding
  • Give extra protection if you had a COVID-19 infection in the past, called “hybrid immunity”
  • Lower the spread of COVID-19 in the community and protect friends, family and people at higher risk from getting sick
  • Provide longer protection against COVID-19 compared to immunity from a COVID-19 infection

Health Canada has currently approved three vaccines for use in Canada:

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI)  recommends a COVID-19 XBB vaccine this spring for those who are at highest risk (Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax) .The XBB vaccines are still able to provide protection to variants that are circulating.

For information about the recommended COVID-19 vaccines for different age groups, doses and timing of doses, visit: Vaccines Eligibility & Doses.

Some vaccines previously authorised in Canada are no longer available:

  • Health Canada has approved COVID-19 vaccines as safe and effective, they meet quality standards, and the benefits of the vaccines outweigh the risks of a COVID-19 infection.
  • Health Canada and Public Health Agency of Canada continue to monitor the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada and will take appropriate action as needed.
  • Since the clinical trials, the vaccines have been given to millions of people in Canada and the USA. The vaccines continue to be safe.

Potential Side Effects and When to Get Medical Attention

Most vaccine side effects are mild and last for one to three days. Common side effects include:

  • Sore arm near the injection site
  • Feeling tired
  • Headache
  • Achy muscles or joints
  • Fever and chills

Severe side effects are rare. Get medical attention right away if you develop any of these symptoms after getting a vaccine:

  • Chest pain/feelings of pressure or tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations/irregular heartbeat

Myocarditis and Pericarditis

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.

As an added safety measure, children who experience myocarditis/pericarditis after receiving their first dose of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine are recommended to delay their second dose until more information is available. NACI, Public Health Ontario and the Ministry of Health continue to follow this closely and will update this recommendation as more evidence becomes available.

Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI)

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.

Anyone can report an AEFI to Toronto Public Health (TPH). Health care providers are required to report AEFIs to TPH.

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:

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 allergies, including serious allergies to food, medications, and insect bites can get the COVID-19 vaccine. Allergic reactions can be treated and are usually temporary. People are monitored for 15 minutes after vaccination for any reactions.

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. 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. 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 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).

Ingredients in currently available vaccines:

Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty XBB vaccine active ingredient: mRNA

  • lipids, cholesterol, polyethylene glycol [PEG]
  • buffers: tromethamin, tromethamin hydrochloride
  • salts: sodium chloride
  • sugars: sucrose

Moderna Spikevax XBB vaccine active ingredient: mRNA

  • lipids, cholesterol, polyethylene glycol [PEG]
  • buffers: tromethamin, tromethamin hydrochloride
  • salts: acetic acid, sodium acetate
  • sugars: sucrose

Novavax (NUVAXOVID) XBB vaccine

  • active ingredient: recombinant spike protein with Matrix-M adjuvant
  • non-medical ingredients: disodium hydrogen phosphate heptahydrate, hydrochloric acid (for adjustment of pH), polysorbate 80, sodium chloride, sodium dihydrogen phosphate monohydrate, sodium hydroxide (for adjustment of pH), water for injection
  • for adjuvant: cholesterol, phosphatidylcholine, potassium chloride, potassium dihydrogen phosphate, disodium hydrogen phosphate dihydrate, sodium chloride

Everyone six months and older is recommended to stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines. For more information about available COVID-19 vaccines, doses and timing of doses for infants, children & youth, visit: , visit: Vaccine Use by Age.

Talk with your child’s health care provider before they get vaccinated about the vaccine options and benefits and risks of being vaccinated based your child’s unique situation, including if:

  • they have a weak immune system/are immunocompromised
  • had serious side-effects from a past COVID-19 infection, such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C)
  • had myocarditis/pericarditis after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine
  • have allergies to the vaccine(s)

Learn more about the routine vaccines available for infants, children & youth:

  • Health Canada has approved COVID-19 vaccines as safe and effective for infants, children and youth, they meet quality standards, and the benefits of the vaccines outweigh the risks of COVID-19 infection.
  • Health Canada and Public Health Agency of Canada continue to monitor the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada and will take appropriate action as needed.
  • Since the clinical trials, the pediatric vaccines have been given to millions of children in Canada  and the USA . The vaccine continues to be safe.
  • The COVID-19 vaccines for children are a smaller dose compared to the dose for adults. This is because younger children have strong immune systems and need a smaller amount of vaccine to get protected.
  • Boosters are safe—they were carefully studied and millions of doses have been given worldwide.
  • Evidence shows the recommended longer intervals between doses may lower the risk of myocarditis with or without pericarditis.

Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine Before or During pregnancy

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine when pregnant or planning a pregnancy may have the following benefits:

  • Lowers the risk of pregnant people from getting very sick from COVID-19, including ending up in the hospital or the ICU (Intensive Care Unit)
  • Lowers the risk of serious side effects or harm to the baby from a COVID-19 infection, including:
    • Preterm birth and having a low birth weight
    • Ending up in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit)
    • Stillbirth
  • Passes antibodies from the vaccine to your growing baby, which can help provide immunity in your baby’s first 6 months of life when they are most vulnerable until they become eligible for the vaccine

Vaccinations While Breastfeeding

Pregnant or breastfeeding individuals should receive all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses as soon as they are able.

Recommendations for vaccination during pregnancy and/or breastfeeding:

  • A COVID-19 vaccine may be offered at any stage of the pregnancy
  • COVID-19 vaccines may be co-administered with other vaccines recommended during pregnancy or while breastfeeding
  • NACI strongly recommends that individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding receive all recommended COVID-19 Vaccine doses.
  • Breastfeeding has many benefits for you and your baby, including protecting your baby against infections and many illnesses
  • Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective and recommended while breastfeeding
  • There is no need to avoid starting breastfeeding or to stop breastfeeding to receive the vaccine
  • It does not disrupt your breastfeeding or have any negative effects on your baby
  • Some studies have shown that antibodies were found in the breast milk of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine, which may protect their baby (under six months old) against a COVID-19 infection

    The Best Time to Get the Vaccine if Planning a Pregnancy, are Pregnant or Breastfeeding

    • The best time to get vaccinated is as soon as you are eligible
    • It is strongly recommended to stay up to with your COVID-19 vaccines
    • COVID-19 vaccines may be given at the same time, before or after other vaccines recommended during pregnancy or while breastfeeding

    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.

    Vaccine Safety

    • Hundreds of thousands of people who are pregnant or breastfeeding have been safely vaccinated
    • Several studies with large numbers of pregnant people have shown that vaccination before and/or at any time during pregnancy or breastfeeding is safe for you and your baby
    • There is no scientific evidence that the vaccine affects fertility (ability to get pregnant) including no effect on egg or sperm
    • Data shows that vaccination does not increase the risk of:
      • miscarriage, premature birth, or high blood pressure
      • birth defects or stillbirth
    • There have been no safety concerns shown in people who received a vaccine and are breastfeeding or any impacts of vaccinations on the baby/child being breastfed
    • The Public Health Agency of Canada continues to monitor people who are pregnant and have been vaccinated to make sure the vaccines are as safe as possible

    For more information:

    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.

    References: (BMJ). (Li et al., 2021)

    More information: