COVID-19 Vaccination Policy: Information for Employers

Local employers are encouraged to develop and implement a workplace vaccination policy to help protect their employees and the public from COVID-19.

  • NOTE: Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination is now required to enter select, non-essential businesses and indoor settings in Ontario. Learn more

Watch this Health Unit Video for more information.

The COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect your workplace from the risks of COVID-19. It is safe and highly effective at reducing virus spread and protecting against serious illness.

A workplace policy will help encourage more people to get vaccinated and allow people to feel more confident and safer in their return to work.

Workplaces can help encourage vaccination by creating a supportive environment that makes it easier for workers to get vaccinated, and by providing information from trusted sources.

During a recent media information session, HKPR Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Natalie Bocking encouraged local employers to implement a vaccination policy to support their employees getting vaccinated: Businesses and COVID-19 Safety Measures – YouTube

Establishing a Vaccination Policy for Your Workplace

Employers have an obligation to maintain a safe work environment for their workers. To help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, a workplace vaccination policy is an important measure employers should implement to protect their workers and the public.

Assess your workplace risk of transmission by considering the following:

  • Does your workforce have a high vaccination rate?
  • Can workers keep at least two metres apart while performing their work?
  • Are workers required to be in close contact with others?
  • How long and how often are workers in close contact with other workers or patrons?
  • Does your workplace have physical barriers when workers cannot keep distance from each other, good ventilation and personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect workers?
  • Do you have workers who may be at risk for severe illness from COVID-19? Some people may have reduced immunity due to age, pre-existing health conditions or medical treatments.
  • Is your workplace able to offer alternative work for people who require accommodation, for example remote work?

The workplace policy should adhere to the Occupational Health and Safety Act , the Ontario Human Rights Code   and privacy laws .

Please note: the information provided on this webpage does not contain legal advice and should not be relied on or treated as legal advice; those for whom these recommendations are intended may seek their own legal advice for their specific circumstance.

Key Components in a Vaccination Policy

1. Identify the scope and purpose.

Explain purpose of the policy including the risks of COVID-19. Vaccination against COVID-19 is one of the best ways to protect workers. The Delta variant of the coronavirus is more contagious, with greater risk for severe illness and hospitalization.

Explain who the policy applies to. Will the policy apply to all workers, contractors, and/or agency staff? Is there a separate policy for customers?

Have a clear communication plan to inform workers about the policy.

2. List action steps workers must take.

When necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19, workplace policies should require workers to provide proof of vaccination, with vaccines approved by Health Canada or the World Health Organization. Alternatively, workers may need to:

Indicate that they have a medical exemption, including if the reasons are temporary or permanent. The medical exemption should be written by a licenced doctor or nurse practitioner and does not need to include the reason for the exemption.

Complete a vaccination education course, with a signed declaration stating that they understand the risks of COVID-19 and the benefits of vaccination. The vaccination education course should include information on:

  • How the COVID-19 vaccines work;
  • Vaccine safety related to the development of the COVID-19 vaccines;
  • The benefits of vaccination against COVID-19;
  • Risks of not being vaccinated against COVID-19; and
  • Possible side effects of COVID-19 vaccination.

3. Set deadlines for when the actions must be taken.

Specify a reasonable date when workers must demonstrate compliance with the workplace policy.

4. List available supports for vaccination.

Demonstrate your commitment to supporting workers to get vaccinated. Ways to support workers to get vaccinated include:

  • Providing vaccine information from credible sources or translated resources
  • Supporting vaccine champions to initiate conversations with their peers
  • Providing paid leave to get vaccinated
  • Reminding workers that they are entitled to up to three paid sick days, if they have side effects from the vaccine
  • Offering incentives such as gift cards, prizes or company swag
  • Hosting an on-site vaccination clinic

5. Provisions for Unvaccinated Workers

  • Your policy should list alternative options for workers who decline to get vaccinated for reasons protected by the Human Rights Act, or who are unable to complete their vaccination series for medical reasons. Some options to consider include:
  • Use of additional PPE, frequent COVID-19 testing, worker relocation, and modified work or reassignments.
  • In the event of a COVID-19 outbreak, unvaccinated and partially vaccinated workers (who have only received one dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series) are not be permitted to work in the outbreak area. Workers without vaccination records should be assumed to be unvaccinated.
  • If reassignment is not possible, consider if unvaccinated workers may use vacation or unpaid leave until it is safe for them to return to the workplace.

6. Non-Compliance

Outline the potential consequences for workers who do not fulfill the requirements of the policy.

7. Privacy considerations

The policy should specify how individual vaccination status of employees will be used by employers to mitigate the health-related risks of COVID-19.

Information about workers’ vaccination information must be protected in accordance with applicable privacy legislation. Knowing your workers’ vaccination status may be important to help you take appropriate action quickly, in the event of COVID-19 cases in your workplace, to protect employees, their families, and the general public.

When collecting information about a worker’s vaccination status:

  • Identify ways to safeguard workers’ personal health information.
  • Limit information collected to the worker’s name and date of vaccination for each dose.
  • Keep worker vaccination information separate from their personnel file.
  • Ensure personal health/vaccination information is kept in a secure manner and only used when required.

8. Staff contact

Identify who at your organization staff should contact with questions about the policy, to request accommodation, or for more information how to comply with the policy. The policy should also indicate the person to whom workers should provide proof of vaccination.

Youth and COVID-19 Vaccination

The time is right for youth to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Individuals aged 12 to 17 years (including children turning 12 years old before the end of 2021) are encouraged to get their first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. This will ensure they are better protected from the virus when school resumes. Click here on where to get your vaccine.

  • COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 years old is now approved for use in Canada. Learn more

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for use in individuals aged 12 to 17 and the vaccine is available at Health Unit’s clinics.



Youth can get the vaccine the following ways:


What you need to know:

  • Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be administered for youth ages 12 to 17 years.
  • Some local pharmacies may also provide youth vaccinations and should be contacted directly to book appointments.
  • As well, primary health care providers may also offer vaccinations to their younger patients and their families.
  • In Ontario, the second dose for vaccines is now given at 28 days after the first dose for anyone 12 years and older.

Additional Resources:


Vaccination Fact and Fiction

MYTH: It is not safe for young people to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

FACT: The COVID-19 vaccine is safe for young people and Health Canada has approved use for people 12 years of age and up. Safety is based on research from scientific trials and they continue to closely monitor the vaccine as more people get it.

MYTH: There are only a few different COVID-19 vaccines.

FACT: There are 4 vaccines approved for use in Canada: Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. Worldwide, there are 102 COVID-19 vaccines in use and another 184 COVID-19 vaccines in progress.

MYTH: The vaccine is going to change or interact with my DNA.

FACT: The vaccine does not change or interact with your DNA. The mRNA vaccines teach your body to know the code for the COVID-19 protein spike, like a recipe that can fight COVID-19 virus. It does not alter or interact with your DNA.

MYTH: There are microchips/metal/magnets in the vaccine.

FACT: There are no metals, magnets, or microchips in the vaccine. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines include mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) which is naturally found in every cell in your body. The specific mRNA found in the vaccine is directed towards creating a protein spike that is like a recipe to help you fight COVID-19. Other ingredients in the vaccine are water, fat, sugar, sodium, and potassium. These are needed to help the mRNA deliver this recipe. Your body creates the protein spike and then no longer needs the recipe, so it breaks it down to get rid of it, leaving only the protein spike needed to fight COVID-19.

MYTH: The COVID-19 vaccine was made too quickly for the science behind it so it can’t be safe.

FACT: The COVID-19 vaccine is very safe. The mRNA type of vaccine was developed in the early 1990s and has had 30 years of research with animal trials. This research was used in the development of the COVID-19 vaccines, like Pfizer and Moderna. They are safe and effective.

MYTH: The government is forcing people to get the vaccine.

FACT: Getting the COVID19 vaccine is completely voluntary. No one is being forced to get it. Vaccination is our best chance to end the pandemic and to get back to enjoying our lives. In the future, there might be things that only fully vaccinated people are allowed to do such as travelling to other countries or attending events with large gatherings of people, like concerts or festivals. Being vaccinated means that you and the people around you will be safer and feel less worried about catching COVID-19.

MYTH: People get sick or get COVID-19 after they get the vaccine.

FACT: The mRNA vaccine is not a live vaccine and does not contain any COVID-19 virus so it cannot give you COVID-19. After you get the vaccine, it can cause a short-lived response as your immune system builds the protein spike or recipe needed to fight COVID-19. Side effects can be feeling tired, headache, sore arm, or not feeling well. The COVID-19 vaccine is over 90% effective against the virus once you have had 2 doses, but that is not 100%. In rare situations, a fully vaccinated person could get sick with COVID-19 and their symptoms might be milder than if they were not vaccinated.

MYTH: I don’t need to be vaccinated because I already had COVID-19.

FACT: It is important to get your COVID-19 vaccine even if you have already had COVID-19. Although you might have some immunity to the virus from having had COVID-19, it is unknown how long that will last or if your antibodies will recognize new COVID-19 variants.

MYTH: I have allergies/a health condition/take medication, so it isn’t safe for me to get the vaccine.

FACT: There are hardly any reasons for someone not to get the vaccine even if they have a health condition and take medications. Sometimes health conditions and medications can make a person at higher risk of complications from COVID-19 so getting the vaccine is even more important for them. Prior to giving you the vaccine, the vaccinator will ask questions to find out more about your health, medications, and allergies. As far as allergies go, the mRNA vaccines do not contain many of the components found in other vaccines that can lead to allergic reactions, such as pork, egg, or gluten. If you have concerns, consult with your family doctor.

MYTH: Kids who get COVID-19 only have mild symptoms, so they do not need to be vaccinated.

FACT: Kids can get sick from COVID-19 and rarely, even be hospitalized. Kids need to be vaccinated because even though they might not get as sick from COVID-19, they can spread it to other people who can get extremely sick. Vaccinating youth helps our whole community. It will be a key step towards ending this pandemic.

MYTH: Only getting 1 shot of the COVID-19 vaccine will be good enough protection for me.

FACT: The mRNA vaccine was designed as a 2-dose set. The first shot teaches your body to make the protein spike which is a recipe your body follows to fight COVID-19. Your body’s immune response to the 1st shot rises, but scientists believe that decreases over time. The 2nd shot reminds your body of that protein spike recipe to give you longer-lasting protection.

MYTH: Once I get the vaccine, I can stop wearing my mask and start hanging out with friends and family again.

FACT: No, not yet. As a population we need enough people to be vaccinated with a full 2 doses before we can relax our current safety measures such as wearing a mask, social distancing, hand sanitizing/cleaning and staying home as much as possible. Once case numbers are low and the percentage of people who are fully vaccinated increases, we will be able to make changes to our current safety measures. In the meantime, encourage your friends and family to get the vaccine.


Speak to a Health Care Professional For More Advice

Make an appointment to talk with a doctor/nurse if you have questions or concerns about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Access these free services:

Diners at Local Restaurant Asked to Monitor for COVID-19 Symptoms After Potential Exposure

The local health unit is asking patrons of a local restaurant to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms after they may have potentially been exposed to the virus.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPRDHU) is asking anyone who dined in the Swiss Chalet restaurant on Strathy Road in Cobourg between March 25 and April 5 to monitor themselves and get tested if they develop symptoms. Symptoms include fever (temperature of 37.8 degrees Celsius or greater), new or worsening cough, headache, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms of COVID-19 can include sore throat, difficulty swallowing, changes to sense of taste and/or smell, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, runny nose, and/or nasal congestion.

Dr. Natalie Bocking, Medical Officer of Health for the HKPR District Health Unit, says the risk of transmission is still considered low so it is not necessary for patrons who visited the restaurant at that time to self-isolate, only to monitor their health for symptoms for the next 14 days. This notice only applies to individuals who dined inside the restaurant and does not apply to people who picked up takeout orders.

“While there are currently no cases among guests, we are erring on the side of caution and asking people who may have dined in the restaurant to monitor themselves for symptoms,” says Dr. Bocking.

The Health Unit declared an outbreak at the restaurant on April 7 and there are currently six cases associated with the outbreak. The restaurant owner has been working closely with the Health Unit to identify potential high-risk contacts and help stop any further spread of the virus. The restaurant did maintain a list of patrons as is required, but given the number of patrons, and the capacity of the Health Unit, it is not possible to personally contact all patrons to ask them to self-monitor, Dr. Bocking says. The restaurant owner has voluntarily closed the restaurant until April 20 and has been providing the information required to the Health Unit to conduct its contact tracing and case investigation work.

“Unfortunately, this is just one outbreak the Health Unit is working on currently, and so our capacity to reach out to a high number of potential contacts is limited,” Dr. Bocking says. “We need people to continue to do what they can to prevent any further spread.”

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Dr. Bocking is reminding people to:

  • Stay home if you are ill (even if you think it may just be allergies);
  • Stay home unless you need to leave home for an essential reason (groceries, medical appointments, work);
  • Do not have indoor gatherings with anyone other than people you live with;
  • Wear a mask (indoors and outdoors) when you cannot stay six feet from other people;
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently;
  • Get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible: www.ontario.ca/bookvaccine or 1-888-999-6488.

Booking A Vaccination Appointment

Individuals can book their appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment through the provincial booking system.

Please note the following:
  • The Health Unit does NOT book vaccination appointments.
  • The Health Unit continues to add clinic appointments to the provincial booking system once vaccine deliveries have been confirmed. Please continue to check the booking site as more clinic locations and dates are being added regularly.

Visit How to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment

Online booking:

Eligible individuals can visit Ontario.ca/bookvaccine.

When booking an appointment, individuals will be asked for information from their green Ontario health card, birth date, postal code and email address and/or phone number. At the time of booking, eligible individuals will schedule their first and second vaccination appointments.

Phone Booking:

If you do not have a computer, call 1-833-943-3900 to book an appointment.

Phone information line:

If eligible individuals have questions about the vaccine or do not have a computer or access to a computer to book an appointment, they can call 1-888-999-6488. The phone information line will be open Monday to Sunday – 8 am to 8pm

Quick Tips:
  • To book an appointment, individuals will need to have a green photo health (OHIP) card as both numbers on the front and back of the card are required. Expired cards will be accepted.
  • Individuals without a health card will be referred to their public health unit for identity validation.
Frequently Asked Questions

How will someone book if they have an old red & white health card? The provincial booking tool requires the green photo health (OHIP) card as a form of authentication when booking. Both the numbers on the front and back of the card are required. Individuals who have a red and white health card will need to call the provincial call centre at 1-888-999-6488 to book an appointment.

If you do not have a health card, you will be directed to your local public health unit to validate your identity.

How will someone book if they do not have a health card? You do not need an Ontario health card to receive the vaccine.

Can someone book an appointment if they have an expired health card? You can still use an expired health card to create a vaccination appointment.

Can someone book on my behalf, or can I book on someone’s behalf? Yes, if you require support from someone or if you are supporting someone who is eligible to book an appointment.

Can family members book their appointments together / around the same time? At this time, vaccination appointments are only available for individuals who are eligible under the province’s framework. Click here to find out if you are eligible at this time.

What is the URL for access to the booking tool online? The URL for access to the booking tool online is https://ontario.ca/bookvaccine (English) and https://ontario.ca/rendezvousvaccin (French)

Do I need a confirmation code for my appointment booking? Yes. You will receive a confirmation code when you have successfully booked your appointment. Please bring this code with you to the clinic as required to proceed with your appointment. If you do not have a confirmation code, then please do not go to the clinic event as it means you do not have an appointment. Please instead revisit the online system or call the customer service desk to book your appointment and receive your confirmation code.

What browsers and / or devices are supported? The website works with most modern browsers on desktop and mobile devices. The website does not work with Microsoft Internet Explorer or older versions of iOS (version 11 or older). Please try a different browser or try another device. If you still have issues, please try clearing your browser’s cache. For instructions on how to do this, open your preferred search engine (such as Google, Bing or Ecosia) and search for “clear the cache in [browser name]”

Media Release – MOH Activates Plan

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Medical Officer of Health Activates Emergency Response Plan

The local medical officer of health is echoing today’s announcement by the provincial government to declare an emergency related to COVID-19.

Due to this declaration, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit’s Medical Officer of Health has activated the agency’s emergency response plan. This activation prompts local municipalities to set up their own emergency operation centres (EOCs) in order to move supports and resources in place for their communities.

“This is an unprecedented but warranted action for a very challenging time,” says Dr. Lynn Noseworthy. “We need to do everything we can to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of our residents.”

Due to the provincial declaration, the Health Unit is enforcing the actions put forward last night by the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) for the province, including:

  • The closure of all facilities providing recreational programs;
  • The closure of public libraries;
  • The closure of private schools and licensed child care facilities;
  • The closure of all bars and restaurants, with the exception of restaurants that can shift to takeout/delivery mechanisms;
  • The closure of all churches and faith settings;
  • The closure of all theatres and concert venues

“The health and wellness of our community continues to be our top priority,” says Dr. Noseworthy, “and these steps are crucial to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Residents are encouraged to help protect their health by washing their hands thoroughly and frequently, covering their coughs and sneezes, staying home if they are ill, and practising physical distancing when out in public by staying at least two metres away from others. As well, anyone returning from travel outside of Canada is required to self-isolate for 14 days and monitor themselves for symptoms unless they are an essential service worker, including health care workers.

If you think you have 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, visit the Ministry of Health’s website to use the self-assessment tool to help determine if you need to seek further care.

The Health Unit is continuing to work with its health care partners and municipal partners in this response. Residents are encouraged to visit www.hkpr.on.ca for updated information.

Please see the March 16 media release from Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario, Dr. David Williams.

Media Release – COVID-19

Monday, March 2, 2020

Local Health Partners Continue to Work Together in Preparation for Potential COVID-19 Cases

Although the risk of becoming ill from COVID-19 continues to be low in Ontario, the local Health Unit and its community health partners are continuing to work together to ensure they are prepared should a case develop locally.

Since COVID-19 was first identified in Ontario, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit has been working with Northumberland Hills Hospital, Ross Memorial Hospital, Campbellford Memorial Hospital, Haliburton Highlands Health Services and its primary health care partners to ensure all organizations are kept up-to-date on information and changes coming from the Ministry of Health. This includes sharing resources like the evolving case definitions, testing protocols, as well as infection prevention and control guidance and support and updated fact sheets on COVID-19. As well, the Health Unit provides support to the health care partners to ensure active screening protocols are in place and that appropriate health care staff have been fit tested for the proper protective equipment.

“There have been a number of improvements made in the way we prepare for wide-spread illnesses since we experienced SARS,” says Dr. Noseworthy, Medical Officer of Health for the HKPR District Health Unit. “Across the province we have seen improvements in communication about the illness and cases, improved laboratory testing protocols and quicker test results shared with health professionals for the stringent contact follow-up and management involving potential cases. The bottom line is that we are prepared for if, and when, we may see a case locally.”

Dr. Noseworthy says that seasonal respiratory illnesses, including influenza, are still circulating in the community. As well, it is important to remember that most people who have become ill with COVID-19 have experienced just mild symptoms and have recovered fully. The risk of serious illness appears to rise with age and the presence of other complicating factors. People who have died from the virus in other countries have tended to be older and have had multiple health issues that weakened their immune systems and put them at greater risk.

To remain healthy, the Health Unit recommends the following:

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve or arm.
  • Stay home if you or a family member are ill.
  • Get your flu shot to protect you from the flu.
  • Avoid visiting people in hospitals or long-term care homes if you are sick.

If you are ill and must visit a hospital emergency department, clinic or other healthcare provider, call ahead or tell them right away when you arrive that you have a respiratory illness and wear a mask while waiting to be seen. This allows health care providers to take steps to reduce the potential spread of illness.

Be prepared to identify your travel history and/or potential contact history with COVID-19 so that paramedics and/or the health care provider are appropriately prepared to assist you.

  • Call your local health unit or health care provider if you become sick with a cough and/or fever AND have returned from an affected area in the past 14 days or have had close contact with an ill person who is either under investigation for COVID-19 or is a confirmed case.
  • If you have severe respiratory symptoms, call 911 and explain both your travel history and symptoms to arrange swift and safe transport.


For more information on COVID-19, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020, or visit www.hkpr.on.ca. After hours, people can call Telehealth Ontario for medical advice toll-free at 1-866-797-0000. People are also encouraged to continue to rely on credible sources of information about COVID-19, including daily updates at:

Guidance for Travellers

Residents are advised to monitor and follow Canadian Travel Advisories as well as alerts and advisories in the travel destination and act accordingly. Specific requirements are in place in Ontario for those with travel to some affected areas to support rapid identification and case management. For guidance on self-isolation, self-monitoring and reporting of symptoms after travel to an affected area, please consult the travel health advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada website.

Consult your health care provider as soon as possible if you have concerns about your symptoms or have a travel history to a region where COVID-19 is occurring or if you have had close contact with an ill person who is either under investigation for COVID-19 or is a confirmed case.

Additional Quotes:

“At HHHS we are continuing to work in close partnership with our local primary care providers and the Public Health Unit, and we are taking the necessary steps to ensure our staff and physicians can continue to safely meet the health needs of our patients, residents, clients, and the community.” – Carolyn Plummer, President and CEO, Haliburton, Highlands Health Services.

“The Haliburton Family Medical Centre and the Haliburton Highlands Family Health Team continue to work closely with community health care partners. Protocols for screening and testing are in place to protect our patients, physicians, and all staff. “ – Kim Robinson, Executive Director, HHFHT, and Office Manager, HFMC.

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