Vaccines are safe and proven effective to protect against diseases – and now they are available in the fight against COVID-19. Please read further for more information about COVID-19 vaccine approval and availability.
- VIDEO: Watch Acting local Medical Officer of Health Dr. Ian Gemmill explain how the COVID-19 vaccine will be rolled out n 2021, why it’s being done this way, and why getting vaccinated is the key to a return to normal.
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COVID-19 Vaccine Approval
Health Canada has approved COVID-19 vaccines for use in Canada. These include the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and a vaccine developed by Moderna. Health Canada has determined COVID-19 vaccine – like any others – meets its strict safety and quality requirements for regulating and approving vaccines.
Creating a new vaccine can take years. However, the progress on COVID-19 is happening quickly for many reasons, including: advances in science and technology; international collaboration among scientists, health professionals, researchers, industry and governments; and increased funding to find a vaccine.
- Watch this federal government Video on How Vaccines are Developed and Approved for Use in Canada.
The local Health Unit is working closely with the Province, local hospitals, health care partners, and long-term care and retirement homes to prepare for a safe and orderly rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in this region. It’s expected the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine will arrive locally in early February.
Due to limited supplies of COVID-19 vaccines currently available in Ontario, the Province has outlined a three-phase approach to provide vaccines to people.
In Phase One, priority is being given to offer vaccines to high-risk groups first, including residents/staff of long-term care homes and other health care workers. Priority is also being given to provide COVID-19 vaccines first to parts of Ontario with the highest COVID-19 infection rates.
As the supply of COVID-19 vaccine increases, the Ontario government will move to Phase Two of vaccine distribution — likely in the spring and summer — making it more widely available, including in Northumberland County, Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes. During Phase Two, the following groups will be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine:
- Older adults, beginning with those 80 years of age and older and decreasing in five-year increments over the course of the vaccine rollout.
- Individuals living and working in high-risk congregate setting.
- Frontline essential workers (e.g., first responders, education workers, food processing industry);.
- Individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers.
- Other populations and communities facing barriers related to the determinants of health across Ontario who are at greater COVID-19 risk.
In Phase Three, starting in late summer, COVID-19 vaccines will be widely available for anyone who wants to receive one.
While the COVID-19 vaccine will not be mandatory in Ontario, you are strongly encouraged to get one when it is available. COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and will be free to everyone. When a large percentage of people become vaccinated or immune to COVID-19, the spread of the virus will slow down or stop.
What To Do Right Now
Until COVID-19 vaccines are widely available, you must continue to:
- Stay home if sick.
- Only leave home for essentials like groceries and medical matters.
- Avoid all non-essential travel.
- Wear a mask or face covering that covers your nose, mouth and chin when inside public places.
- Practise physical distancing by staying 2 metres (6 feet) apart from anyone outside your immediate household
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water.
- Practise other COVID-19 prevention measures.
Learn more on COVID-19 vaccine distribution, development and safety:
- Government of Ontario
- Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan
- COVID-19 Vaccine Safety
- Ethical Framework For COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution (document outlines how Ontario will ensure fair and equitable distribution of vaccines)