January 17, 2021

On January 18, 2021, under the direction of the Ontario Ministry of Health, the City and Toronto Public Health are launching an initial ‘proof-of-concept’ COVID-19 Immunization Clinic at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. This first clinic will help test and adjust immunization clinic setup in non-hospital settings, ensuring safety and increasing efficiency in advance of wider immunization. The proof-of-concept clinic is one part of preparing for the Province’s public vaccination rollout and is not open to members of the public.

Once the clinic has operated for an initial six to eight weeks, the City will produce a thoroughly-evaluated immunization clinic playbook in collaboration with provincial and hospital partners. This playbook will be provided to the Province and is critical in establishing other immunization clinics both in Toronto and across Ontario.

The clinic will operate with a sample group of healthcare workers, identified in accordance with the Province of Ontario’s Ethical Framework for COVID-19 vaccine prioritization. These healthcare workers are directly involved in the frontline response to COVID-19, including frontline shelter workers and harm-reduction and Streets to Homes staff who work in support of some of Toronto’s most vulnerable residents.

Vaccine Supply

Immunization schedules at the clinic will be based on vaccine supply. As announced by the federal government on Friday, due to work to expand the European manufacturing facility, production of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVD-19 vaccine will be impacted for a number of weeks. As a result, Pfizer will temporarily reduce deliveries at its European facility to all countries receiving its vaccine, including Canada.

The Government of Canada is responsible for obtaining the supply of COVID-19 vaccines; the Province has responsibility for distributing the vaccines and identifying priority groups established under the Province’s framework; and Toronto is responsible for supporting the administration of the vaccine in accordance with provincial prioritization and scheduling frameworks as vaccines are provided by the Province. Read more about the Province’s vaccine distribution implementation plan.

Clinic Opening

The clinic will operate inside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC). Hours of operation for immunization appointments will be from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days per week.

The first person that will be vaccinated at the proof-of-concept clinic on Monday morning will be a Toronto Public Health Supervisor of Vaccine Preventable Diseases. The vial of the first vaccine administered by the clinic is planned to be added into the City’s artifact collection, managed by Museums & Heritage Services. This is part of the City’s effort to document the pandemic and preserve our response to it for future generations.

Photos of the first person to receive the vaccine at the clinic will be available to media on the afternoon of Monday, January 18 through

On January 18, the Toronto Sign will be pink to match the pink bandage that is becoming synonymous with the City’s immunization campaign.

Media requests for site access

To protect the health of staff, proof-of-concept clients and the wider community, media will not be permitted onsite at the clinic. Photos and b-roll of the site and first-day operations will be available to media on the afternoon of Monday, January 18 by emailing a request to

Risk of Disease

Coronavirus Disease-2019 or COVID-19 is a viral infection that primarily affects the lungs. Some people may have a mild illness. Others may get very sick, including seniors and people with pre-existing health conditions. Very rarely, some children can get a serious inflammatory condition. The long-term effects of COVID-19 are not fully known.

COVID-19 is spread mainly by respiratory droplets from an infected person. People can spread the infection before they show symptoms. Some people are at greater risk of getting COVID-19 due to their work or living conditions.

COVID-19 Immunization Clinic

1. What is the COVID-19 Immunization Clinic proof-of-concept?
In mass immunization campaigns, many people are vaccinated in a short period of time. It involves a lot of planning to ensure safety precautions are taken. An early clinic will help us make adjustments to the clinic set up to increase efficiency, such as crowd control, vaccine storage and handling, etc. The City of Toronto and Toronto Public Health are developing a comprehensive immunization plan, including immunization clinics, as required by the province. To confirm that our plans will work, we are running the first immunization clinic as a proof-of-concept.

2. Who is in charge of the clinic?
Under the direction from the Ontario Ministry of Health, the City of Toronto and Toronto Public Health are operating this COVID-19 Immunization Clinic.

3. Who is eligible for the proof-of-concept program?
The program will operate with a sample group of healthcare workers, identified in accordance with the Province’s Ethical Framework for COVID-19 vaccine prioritization. These healthcare workers are directly involved in the frontline response to COVID-19. This includes frontline shelter workers, including harm-reduction and Streets to Homes staff, who work in support of some of Toronto’s most vulnerable residents. The COVID-19 Immunization Clinic proof-of-concept is not open to the public.

4. Which vaccine will be used (Pfizer or Moderna)?
The initial COVID-19 Immunization Clinic proof-of-concept will be using the Moderna vaccine as per instruction by the Province, but due to the supply issues with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the Moderna vaccine may be reallocated by the Province elsewhere, as required. Scheduling at the City’s proof-of-concept clinic, therefore, may be impacted due to vaccine supply. As vaccine becomes more readily available, the clinic is scalable and will accelerate immunization accordingly.

5. What are the hours of operation?
Hours of operation for immunization appointments will be from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days per week.

6. Where is the clinic located?
The clinic will operate inside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC).

Vaccine Administration

1. How is the vaccine administered?
The vaccine is given as an injection into the deltoid muscle of the arm. To be effective, the second dose should ideally be given four to six weeks after the first dose.

2. What instructions are participants given before coming to the clinic?
Proof-of-concept clinic participants are given a list of instructions, including:

  • The appointment will take less than one hour from beginning to end.
  • Actively screen for symptoms of COVID-19 before leaving home.
  • Stay home and reschedule your appointment if you have symptoms, even if they are mild.
  • Wear a short-sleeve shirt or a top with loose sleeves that can be rolled up.
  • Have something to eat before coming to the clinic.
  • Bring your health card and workplace ID to the clinic to confirm your appointment.
  • You will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms again before entering the clinic.
  • Wear a mask that can cover your nose, mouth and chin when at the clinic.
  • Follow public health measures including sanitizing your hands, keep 2-metre distancing from others, and follow any signs or instructions provided at the clinic.
  • Be prepared to remain at the clinic for 15 minutes after vaccination so nurses can monitor for any reactions.

3. How can this vaccine be injected if it is stored at -25° Celsius?
Before the vaccine is given, it will be thawed at room temperature. Once the vaccine is thawed, the vaccine must be used within 6-12 hours.

4. How do participants get the second dose?
Participants can schedule an appointment for the second dose while at the clinic, after they have received their first dose of the vaccine.

5. Will participants need booster doses?
There is no evidence for the need for an additional booster after the two-shot series.

6. What if someone misses their second appointment?
Ideally, the second dose should ideally be given four to six weeks after the first dose. If someone were to miss their second appointment, they should schedule another appointment as early as possible. There is no need to re-start the series.

Vaccine and Working at the City

1. How were City staff selected to be a part of the proof-of-concept?
The clinic will operate with a sample group of healthcare workers, identified in accordance with the Province’s Ethical Framework for COVID-19 vaccine prioritization. These healthcare workers are directly involved in the frontline response to COVID-19. This includes frontline shelter workers, including harm-reduction and Streets to Homes staff, who work in support of some of Toronto’s most vulnerable residents.

2. What if staff selected choose not to get vaccinated?
The COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary. Even after vaccination, everyone still needs to adhere to all workplace COVID-19 protocols and precautions. This is not the only chance to get the vaccine. The Province will receive more vaccines to ensure that every person who wants to a vaccine will receive one.

3. If staff don’t get vaccinated, can they still come to work?
The vaccine is not mandatory. Staff can still go to work without getting the vaccine. All staff still need to adhere to all workplace COVID-19 protocols and precautions.

4. Will clinic participants get documentation to show they have been vaccinated?

About the vaccine

1. What is this vaccine?
The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for use in Canada on December 23, 2020. This vaccine is for use in people 18 years of age or older to protect against COVID-19.

2. How does this vaccine work?
The mRNA vaccine tells the body’s cells to make “spike proteins”. The spike proteins are specific to the virus that causes COVID-19. The immune system will respond to the spike proteins by making antibodies that will fight off infection. The new antibodies will break down the spike proteins and get rid of them. The new antibodies will protect the individual from illness if they are exposed to the COVID-19 virus. The vaccine does not contain the virus and so it cannot give someone COVID-19.

3. Who should not get the vaccine?
Individuals should not get the vaccine, if they:

  • are under the age of 18
  • have allergies to polyethylene glycol (PEG), tromethamine or any vaccine ingredients
  • had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of this vaccine

Defer getting this vaccine, if they:

  • have a fever or COVID-19 symptoms
  • have received a flu vaccine or any other vaccine in the past 14 days.

Talk to their health care provider first, if they:

  • are pregnant, could be pregnant or breastfeeding
  • have an autoimmune disorder
  • are immunosuppressed because of an illness or therapy
  • have a bleeding disorder

Consult their health care provider for a possible allergy referral, if they have:

  • had a severe allergy to polyethylene glycol
  • had a severe or immediate allergic reaction (within four hours) to a vaccine or other injectable medications.

Anyone with a history of severe allergic reactions to food, drugs, insect bites or environmental, should talk to their health care provider about staying at the clinic for 30 minutes after the vaccine for observation.

Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is a common, water-soluble ingredient used to stabilize or preserve a wide variety of commercial products including some vaccine and medications. It is often used as a laxative or in bowel prep products for colonoscopy.

Other products containing PEG include:

    • cosmetics, skin creams, shampoos, toothpastes, hair products
    • contact lenses, contact lens solutions, cough syrup, ultrasound gel
    • some fast foods, baked goods and drinks

Tromethamine, also known as trometamol or Tris are also found in cosmetics and personal care products, contrast media, oral and injectable medications.

4. How long does it take before participants are protected against COVID-19?
Individuals need two doses given four to six weeks apart. After, they may need another two weeks before they get the best protection against COVID-19. Presently, the long-term protection of the vaccine is not known.

5. How effective is this vaccine?
In clinical trials, the vaccine was shown to be 95 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 after two doses.

6. What is in the Moderna vaccine?
Active ingredient mRNA lipids:

  • lipid SM-102
  • 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DSPC)
  • PEG2000 DMG (1,2-dimyristoyl-rac-glycerol, methoxy-polyethyleneglycol)
  • cholesterol

Salts, sugars & buffers: Tromethamin, Tromethamin hydrocholoride, acetic acid, sodium acetate, sucrose

7. Do people need the vaccine if they have already had COVID-19?
Yes. Natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last long. It is possible to get re-infected after a previous COVID-19 infection.

8. Are there fetal cells in this vaccine?
No. This vaccine does not use cells taken from humans. The RNA sequence was designed by studying the shape of the spike protein and the genes of the virus.

9. Does the vaccine work for older people?
Yes. This vaccine is for people 18 years and older, including seniors. It has been tested in seniors and people with pre-existing stable health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and hepatitis B, C or HIV with good immune response.

10. If someone got a flu shot, do they still need this vaccine?
Yes. The flu shot does not protect against COVID-19. It is important to have protection against both – the flu and COVID-19. If you have received another vaccine recently, please schedule your appointment at least 14 days after your last vaccine.

11. Where can people find more information?
Find the full product monograph that is prepared for healthcare professionals and includes this Patient Medication Information by visiting the Health Canada website.

Vaccine Safety

1. What testing has been done for this vaccine?
Vaccines are first tested on animals to evaluate their safety and potential to prevent disease. They are then tested in human clinical trials, in three phases:

  • Phase one: the vaccine is given to a small number of volunteers to assess its safety, confirm it generates an immune response and determine dosage.
  • Phase two: the vaccine is given to hundreds of volunteers to monitor for side effects and immune response.
  • Phase three: the vaccine is given to thousands of volunteers to determine if it prevents disease; some received the vaccine while others were given a placebo. After a vaccine is approved for use, it continues to be monitored for any unexpected or rare side effects.

2. Is this a clinical trial? I’ve heard that the mRNA technology being used by Pfizer/Moderna is brand new. Is it still experimental?
After more than a decade of research and development on mRNA vaccines, this vaccine is the first mRNA vaccine approved for use in humans. To date, mRNA has been successfully used in cancer treatments, and research into its value for vaccinations has been ongoing for over 10 years.

3. How can someone trust that the vaccine is safe?
Health Canada only approves a vaccine if it is supported by very robust scientific data and evidence. After approval, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada continue to monitor the ongoing safety and effectiveness of all approved vaccines.

In general, the side effects observed during the clinical trials are similar to what you might have with other vaccines. The side effects that followed vaccine administration in clinical trials for this vaccine were mild or moderate. They included things like pain at the site of injection, body chills, feeling tired and feeling feverish. These are common side effects of vaccines and do not pose a risk to health.

As with all vaccines, there’s a chance that there will be a serious side effect, but these are rare. A serious side effect might be something like an allergic reaction. Health Canada has conducted a rigorous scientific review of the available medical evidence to assess the safety of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. No major safety concerns were identified in the data that they reviewed.

4. Can recipients of the vaccine contract COVID-19?
The vaccine does not contain the virus, so you cannot get the COVID-19 infection from the vaccine.

5. It all happened very quickly, can people be confident that there was no short cut in the development of this vaccine?
Standards of safety, efficacy and quality have not been compromised to expedite the approval of COVID-19 vaccines. Monitoring of the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness will continue now and into the future. The development of vaccines for COVID-19 is progressing quickly for many reasons including:

  • International collaboration among scientists, health professionals, researchers, industry and governments
  • Increased funding to allow for multiple trials and product testing simultaneously to shorten timelines.
  • Quick adaptation of existing research programs such as those focusing on mRNA- and viral-vector-based technology

After Care

1. What happens after participants receive the vaccine?
After receiving the vaccine, participants are instructed to:

  • Remain at the clinic for 15 minutes after vaccination to be sure they are feeling well. If an allergic reaction or anaphylaxis were to occur, it usually happens within 15-30 minutes of the injection. The clinic staff will tell participants where to wait.
  • Notify the clinic staff if they feel unwell.
  • Keep their mask on and stay at least two metres from others.
  • Sanitize their hands often, and before touching their face.
  • Do not drive if they are feeling unwell.
  • Do not receive another vaccine (unless required for post-exposure prophylaxis) until 28 days after the second dose.
  • Wait at least a month, after their second dose, before trying to get pregnant.

Participants will receive a note from the clinic at the time of vaccination called the After Care Sheet that tells them what to expect after vaccination.

2. What should participants expect in the first few days following the vaccination?
Similar to medications and other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine can cause side effects, although not everyone has them. Most side effects are minor and don’t last very long.

3. When should participants seek medical attention?
Serious side effects after receiving the vaccine are rare. Participants should stay home if you they experience symptoms. If participants develop any of the following reactions and/or if they are severely unwell within three days of receiving the vaccine, they should seek medical attention right away or call 911:

  • hives
  • swelling of the face, mouth or tongue
  • trouble breathing
  • very pale colour
  • extremely drowsiness
  • high fever (over 40°C)
  • convulsions or seizures
  • other serious symptoms (e.g., “pins and needles” or numbness).

Anyone who experiences a serious allergic reaction to the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, should wait until they are cleared by an allergist or a health care provider before getting the second dose. If they choose to receive a second dose, those who have experienced serious reactions should stay at the clinic for 30 minutes after vaccination.

4. How should participants report adverse reactions?
If a participant has a side effect after vaccination, they should report it to their healthcare professional to complete the Adverse Events following Immunization (AEFI) Form.

5. Can someone still catch COVID-19 or spread the virus to others after vaccination?
Research is ongoing. At this time, transmission of COVID-19 virus is still unknown.

6. Can participants increase their family bubble once vaccinated with two-doses?
Participants must continue to follow provincial guidelines even after receiving two-doses of the vaccine.

7. Can participants just get one dose of the vaccine?
It is important to receive both doses of the vaccine for best protection.

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