Vaccination Information

Exemption Process and Forms How to Upload COVID-19 Documentation

Immunization by vaccination is a safe and effective way of preventing illness caused by infectious diseases. The COVID-19 vaccines are intended to protect you and those around you from developing COVID-19, and to make your symptoms milder if you are infected.  

As we move towards widespread, lasting control of COVID-19 through safe and effective vaccines, it is essential for everyone in Canada to continue following public health recommendations to prevent further spread.  

Humber recognizes that vaccination is a critical component of the overall public health response to the Pandemic and will be introducing a new COVID-19 vaccination policy, effective for the fall term.

Everyone, including those vaccinated, should continue physical distancing, practice frequent hand hygiene, wear face masks, and follow any additional measures laid out by public health authorities.  

Additional information about vaccinations can be found from official sources, including the Public Health Agency of CanadaOntario Government and the City of Toronto.  

Free vaccines will be available to everyone in Canada throughout 2021.

Where to Get Vaccinated

You can book a vaccination appointment and find locations where vaccinations are available on covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine. There are also pharmacies close Humber Campuses and locations that offer vaccines, including: 

  • Unicare Pharmacy, 3170 Lakeshore Blvd (in the medical building directly across from the Lakeshore Welcome Centre)
    • Mention that you are a Humber or University of Guelph-Humber student or employee.
    • Walk-in clinic offers vaccinations
      • Monday to Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
      • Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
      • Sunday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 
  • Fortino's, 330 Queen's Plate Drive
    • Call 2 to 4 days in advance to book an appointment at 416-745-5725.
    • In general, vaccines are available Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    • Mention that you are a Humber or University of Guelph-Humber student or employee.
  • Students at the International Graduate School can find information on testing and vaccination location options on the IGS student portal

Where to get tested for COVID-19

PLEASE NOTE: Acceptable proof of a negative COVID-19 test must be an official receipt/document which includes the name of place that conducted the test; the name of the person who took the test; the date and time it was taken; and the result. 

Details of the testing arrangements for the Winter 2022 term will be emailed directly with those with approved exemptions. Until mid-January, the government of Ontario is also offering take-home rapid tests at various locations throughout the province. 

To find a location near you, visit: covid-19.ontario.ca/assessment-centre-locations. There is also a pharmacy close to Humber's Lakeshore Campus that offers Rapid Antigen testing. Please note that staff and students would be responsible for any associated costs for tests at these off-campus locations. 

  • Students at the International Graduate School can find information on testing and vaccination location options on the IGS student portal

DISCLAIMER: This page is not meant to provide personal medical advice and is being provided as a resource based on available advice from appropriate public health authorities and other government resources. Talk to your doctor/medical provider to get advice specific to you.

Below are answers to commonly asked questions about COVID-19 vaccines.

Humber-Specific Vaccination Information

Does Humber require proof of vaccination for staff or students to attend campus? 

In the winter 2022 term, students, employees, contractors and visitors coming to the College's campuses or facilities will be required to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated or have an approved exemption. This proof should be uploaded to the Humber Guardian app. You can download the enhanced vaccine certificate (with an official QR code) at covid-19.ontario.ca/proof-covid-19-vaccination. As of January 24, 2022, only the provincial Enhanced Vaccine Certificate (QR code) may be submitted to the Humber Guardian app as vaccine receipts without the QR code will no longer be accepted.  

If you previously uploaded your vaccine receipt to Humber's Guardian app and it has been approved, you will not need to re-upload the new receipt at this time.    

International students who were vaccinated outside of Ontario, can find information about the steps to obtain an Enhanced Vaccine Certificate/ Canadian proof of vaccination from the Government of Canada. Exceptions will be made for international students who do not yet have a provincial QR code.

Step-by-step instructions for uploading COVID-19 documentation are also available. The process will ensure that any personal health information submitted to the College will be secure and confidential.     

Students, employees, contractors and visitors who are unvaccinated will not be able to access campus with a negative COVID-19 test. Humber will only offer testing free of charge to students and staff who have an approved exemption, and details are emailed to those individuals directly if their request is  approved.   

Those who are not fully vaccinated will be required to begin an application for exemption. Here is information about the exemption process for students.

 Will Humber's fitness centres require proof of vaccination?

Humber's fitness centres are currently closed due to restrictions in place by the Government of Ontario.   

When the fitness centre reopens, staff and students need to book an appointment to use the centres where they will be informed that they will require proof of vaccination to access the facility. This proof should be uploaded to the Humber Guardian App. You can download the enhanced vaccine certificate (with an official QR code) at covid-19.ontario.ca/proof-covid-19-vaccination. As of January 24, 2022, only the provincial Enhanced Vaccine Certificate (QR code) may be submitted to the Humber Guardian app as vaccine receipts without the QR code will no longer be accepted, and no other proof shown on any other app will be accepted.

Humber Fitness Reservation

What is a valid proof of vaccination?

A valid proof of vaccination includes:     

  • Ontario's Enhanced Vaccine Certificate (with an official QR code) can be downloaded at covid-19.ontario.ca/proof-covid-19-vaccination. The vaccine receipt without the QR code is no longer accepted. Enhanced Vaccine Certificates from other provinces are also accepted.
  • International students who were vaccinated outside of Ontario, can find information about the steps to obtain an Enhanced Vaccine Certificate/ Canadian proof of vaccination from the Government of Canada. Exceptions will be made for international students who do not yet have a provincial QR code.

The name of the vaccine and the number of doses must correspond to the information below. People are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after their second dose in a two-dose series or one dose from Janssen. This proof should be uploaded to the Humber Guardian App. At this time, a booster shot is not required to be considered fully vaccinated, as per Humber's policy. Proof shown on any other app will not be accepted.      

Only the following COVID-19 vaccine proof are accepted: COVID-19:

  • Comirnaty (Pfizer) (2 doses)  
  • SpikeVax (Moderna) (2 doses)  
  • Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD) (2 doses)   
  • Janssen (Johnson & Johnson (1 dose)   
  • Sinopharm (2 doses)   
  • Sinovac (2 doses)   
  • COVAXIN (2 doses)

When do I need to provide proof of vaccination?

Staff, students or visitors to Humber's campuses and facilities are required to be fully vaccinated or have an approved exemption with proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within the last 72 hours. Ontario's Enhanced Vaccine Certificate (with an official QR code) can be downloaded at covid-19.ontario.ca/proof-covid-19-vaccination. 

As of January 24, 2022, only the provincial Enhanced Vaccine Certificate (QR code) may be submitted to the Humber Guardian app as vaccine receipts without the QR code will no longer be accepted, and no other proof shown on any other app will be accepted.

If you previously uploaded your vaccine receipt to Humber's Guardian app and it has been approved, you will not need to re-upload the new receipt at this time.    

Everyone coming to campus must continue to complete the COVID-19 Self-Assessment, which now includes a question about vaccination status/negative test results. You will need to show the results of your screening to access college facilities.  

How long is the vaccination policy in effect?

Humber's vaccination policy remains in effect and supports previously announced requirements for varsity athletes, students living in residence and those involved with programs with specific work-integrated learning requirements.

What if I have questions about the exemption process?

Students with questions about the exemption process should contact studenthumanrightsexemption@humber.ca or studentmedicalexemption@humber.ca

Students should only email covidreporting@humber.ca if think they may have COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19.

Staff and instructors with questions about the exemption process should contact their manager or Program Co-ordinator.

What if I read the vaccination policy and FAQs and still have questions?

Students with general questions about the vaccination policy should contact covidinfo@humber.ca.  

Staff and instructors with questions about the vaccination policy should contact their manager or Program Co-ordinator. 

Under what authority are COVID-19 vaccination policies required at post-secondary education (PSE) institutions?

On August 17, 2021 the Ontario government announced that COVID-19 vaccination policies would be mandatory in a number of high-risk settings, including post-secondary institutions. Following that announcement the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health issued specific instructions that directed colleges and universities to establish, implement and ensure compliance with a COVID-19 vaccination policy. These instructions required all public assisted Ontario post-secondary institutions, with the exception of Indigenous Institutes, to have mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies in place effective September 7, 2021.

It is the college’s top priority to protect the health and safety of our community and Humber’s vaccination policy supports this priority. It is designed to meet the requirements outlined by government and is made in accordance with Ontario Regulation 364/20.

We were informed of this requirement by government in mid-August and communicated that immediately to our community.

Who is required to show proof of vaccination?

All college community members or visitors who wish to access a Humber campus or facility, including employees and students, must provide proof of vaccination or an approved exemption accompanied with proof of a negative COVID-19 test result from the past 72 hours. Step-by-step instructions for uploading proof to the Humber Guardian app are available. As of January 24, 2022, only the provincial Enhanced Vaccine Certificate (QR code) may be submitted to the Humber Guardian app as vaccine receipts without the QR code will no longer be accepted.

Ontario's enhanced proof of vaccination receipt (with an official QR code) can be downloaded at covid-19.ontario.ca/proof-covid-19-vaccination.  

Will there be exemptions to this policy? When can I submit my exemption request?

Employees and students will have the option of requesting an exemption. Information about the student process can be found on the Exemptions Process and Forms page. Information about the staff process can be found in the HROE page. Accommodation requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.  

Humber will work with exempted individuals to find a reasonable and appropriate approach to accommodation. This may include alternative health and safety requirements, like regular rapid testing or a transition to remote learning or work, where possible.

Proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours prior is required with an approved exemption. Acceptable proof of a negative COVID-19 test must be an official receipt/document which includes the name of place that conducted the test; the name of the person who took the test; the date and time it was taken; and the result.

If I submit an exemption request, how long will the process take?

The college will endeavour to review all exemption requests in a timely manner. 

Will I still need to complete a self-assessment before coming to campus if I show proof of vaccination? 

Yes, before attending campus each day, students, faculty, staff, and visitors must complete a Daily Self-Screening using the Humber Guardian App (Apple Store, Google Play Store). This screening is based on the provincial list of COVID-19 symptoms.  

When did Humber's vaccination policy take effect?

The policy took effect on September 7, 2021 and remains in place.

What does fully vaccinated mean? What vaccines are approved? 

The provincial government defines people as fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, or after the single dose of a one-dose series. At this time, a booster shot is not required to be considered fully vaccinated as per Humber’s policy.

To be considered fully vaccinated, an individual must have received the full series of a vaccine — or combination of vaccines — accepted by the Government of Canada. For those who received their vaccinations in Canada, the approved vaccines are manufactured by:  

  • Comirnaty (Pfizer) (2 doses)
  • Covaxin (2 doses)
  • SpikeVax (Moderna) (2 doses)
  • Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD) (2 doses)
  • Janssen (Johnson & Johnson (1 dose)

Humber is also accepting COVID-19 vaccinations that are approved by the World Health Organization.

For International students, the Government of Canada has issued guidance for individuals vaccinated outside of Canada that can be found here

How do I find proof of my vaccination? 

In Ontario, you can download your enhanced vaccination receipt (with QR code) from the province's COVID-19 website.    

In other provinces and countries, please check with your local health authorities for more information.  

If I have already provided proof to Humber (e.g., for residence or varsity athletes), do I need to do this again? 

Yes, students who have already submitted their proof of vaccination for residence or varsity athletics requirements will still need to upload proof of vaccination to the Humber Guardian app as well. Step-by-step instructions for uploading COVID-19 Documentation to the Humber Guardian app are available.   

If you have previously uploaded your vaccine receipt to Humber's Guardian app and it has been approved, you will not need to re-upload at this time.  

How will community members share their proof of vaccination?

Beginning in the Winter 2021 term, all college community members or visitors who wish to access a Humber campus or facility, including employees and students, must provide proof of vaccination or an approved exemption accompanied with proof of a negative COVID-19 test result from the past 72 hours.   

Ontario's enhanced proof of vaccination receipt (with an official QR code) can be downloaded at covid-19.ontario.ca/proof-covid-19-vaccination.

This proof should be uploaded to the Humber Guardian App. As of January 24, 2022, only the provincial Enhanced Vaccine Certificate (QR code) may be submitted to the Humber Guardian app as vaccine receipts without the QR code will no longer be accepted.

If you have previously uploaded your vaccine receipt to Humber's Guardian app and it has been approved, you will not need to re-upload the new receipt at this time.

What if I am coming to campus to use the library, gym or any other campus facility? 

All college community members or visitors who wish to access a Humber campus or facility are subject to the vaccination policy and will need to provide proof of vaccination or an exemption with negative COVID-19 test results taken no more than 72 hours prior. This includes facilities such as the library and gyms. 

How will my vaccine information be safeguarded? 

Health information will be secure and will be kept confidential. We will share more information about the steps we will be taking to safeguard any personal information provided to the College as part of the implementation of the new vaccine policy. Aggregate data may be used to provide information on overall trends.

The technology that we are using to support covid vaccination status has gone through our process for review related to both information security and privacy. This includes the review of the technology's overall security posture, as well as a detailed review of their security practices.

These systems have also gone through our contract review process which ensures that our user's data is appropriately protected when being collected and stored. Our policies and processes ensure that we store the required data in a secure way and ensure that access to this data is restricted to the appropriate individuals through segregation of duties and system access controls.

Does my vaccination/exemption status have any impact on my upcoming work-integrated learning placement? 

Humber’s vaccination policy applies to Humber and Guelph-Humber campuses and locations. Placement locations may have their own vaccination requirements or policies. An approved exemption to attend Humber locations does not constitute an approved exemption for placement locations. Students who are not fully vaccinated will need to contact the placement offices to discuss implications to their placements. 

Will managers or instructors have access to individual vaccination declarations or records? 

No. Individual health information will remain private and confidential. 

If I am fully vaccinated, do I need to adhere to other safety measures, such as wearing a mask? 

Yes, everyone must adhere to all existing public health measures and College health and safety protocols, including current requirements to wear a mask indoors and physical distancing, as applicable.

Who decided vaccination should be mandatory at Humber?

On August 16, 2021, Humber provided an update on the health and safety measures planned for the Fall 2021 term, including that physical distancing and indoor masking requirements will continue to be in place across our campuses and facilities.

Following the August 17 provincial announcement, the Humber executive team approved the introduction of a COVID-19 vaccination policy for students, employees, and visitors to the college’s campuses or facilities. This policy remains in place. 

How do I get a vaccine?

Vaccines are widely available across Ontario and in other parts of the country. More information can be found at www.covid-19.ontario.ca or visit the FAQ on our vaccine information page.

Will masks continue to be mandatory on campus as more people get vaccinated?

Health and safety measures including physical distancing, masks and hand hygiene will remain in effect for the foreseeable future. Once you have received both doses of the vaccine, you may still contract COVID-19, but the risk of serious illness or death is greatly reduced. However, you may still contract the virus and pass it to others. Ongoing mask requirements will help minimize this. 

I heard some people talking about vaccinations at work/school and I felt uncomfortable. What can I do?

The choice to get a vaccine is personal and may be based on a range of factors including medical, religious or other. As always, staff and students are asked to treat their peers with respect, including understanding the private nature of health-related decisions.

I am an international student without a health card. Can I still get the COVID-19 vaccine?

For international students, the Government of Canada has issued guidance for individuals vaccinated outside of Canada.   

International students vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccination, not Health Canada approved – are encouraged to upload the proof of vaccine to public health, and public health will email individuals within 3-5 business days with the next steps.    

Students who have been vaccinated with a vaccine that is not approved by the WHO is asked to call Public Health at 416-338-7600 or publichealth@toronto.ca for advice on the next steps, which may include having to redo the vaccination series with a vaccine approved in Canada.  

I’m an international student, what do I need to do to be in line with Humber's vaccination policy?

For International students, the Government of Canada has issued guidance for individuals vaccinated outside of Canada.

International student vaccinated with a WHO approved vaccination, not Health Canada approved – are encouraged to upload the proof of vaccine to public health and public health will e-mail individuals within 3-5 business days with the next steps.  

Students who have been vaccinated with a vaccine which is not approved by the WHO, are asked to call Public Health at 416-338-7600 or publichealth@toronto.ca for advice on next steps, which may include having to redo the vaccination series with a vaccine approved in Canada.

I am a Humber/UofGH international student, and my insurance will cover the COVID-19 vaccine. Can I get my vaccine on campus or elsewhere?

Vaccinations are available to those deemed eligible in the Province’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan and local public health. Please visit Ontario’s three-phase COVID-19 vaccination plan here for more information find your public health unit and check their website for details about vaccination and if you are eligible in your area.

Where do students/employees go for more information?

Why are fully vaccinated people not required to provide a negative COVID test when they can still get infected? 

Humber is following the guidelines in place by the Ministry of Health that state that rapid antigen screening tests are not designed for those who are fully vaccinated. The antigen screening is only for individuals who have not received any dose, only have one dose or are within the 14 days of their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Details about testing arrangements for the winter term will be emailed to individuals with approved exemptions. Until mid-January, the government of Ontario is also offering take-home rapid tests at various locations throughout the province. 

When and where do I need to get tested for COVID-19? How often? Are the tests going to be free?

Details about testing arrangements for the winter term will be emailed to individuals with approved exemptions. Until mid-January, the government of Ontario is also offering take-home rapid tests at various locations throughout the province. 

Alternatively, to find other locations near you, visit: covid-19.ontario.ca/assessment-centre-locations.

What type of COVID-19 testing should I be doing in order to comply with the vaccination policy?

Rapid Antigen Testing is recommended.

Details about testing for the Winter term will be emailed directly to those individuals with approved exemptions.

Alternatively, to find other location near you, visit: covid-19.ontario.ca/assessment-centre-locations. Until mid-January, the government of Ontario is also offering take-home rapid tests at various locations throughout the province. 

I am an employee and I have requested an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine. What must I do until the exemption is reviewed? 

While a decision regarding an exemption is pending and has not yet been finalized, if you are assigned or required to work on campus, you will need to obtain proof of a current (no more than 72 hours prior) negative COVID-19 test result. Details about at-home Rapid Antigen Testing for the winter term will be sent directly to individuals who have an approved exemption. 

You will need to show the result of your screening to access campus facilities.

I am a student and I have requested an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine. What must I do until the exemption is reviewed? 

While your request is pending, should you be required to attend campus, you are required to have proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test. This can be done with a hard copy or email result of the negative test taken within the 72 hours prior to attending campus. Beginning on September 20, you will be required to upload the test result to the Humber Guardian App prior to attending campus. Details about rapid testing for the winter term will be provided to those with approved exemptions. 

Until mid-January, the government of Ontario is also offering take-home rapid tests at various locations throughout the province. 

Alternatively, to find a location near you, visit: covid-19.ontario.ca/assessment-centre-locations. If you choose to be tested at any of these off-campus locations, you will be responsible for any associated costs.

You will need to show the result of your screening to access campus facilities. Please upload your results to the Humber Guardian app for review.

I was scheduled to learn on campus, but I would like to transfer to online as a result of the vaccination policy. What can I do?

You will be required to complete an exemption request for consideration. Student exemption requests for the Winter 2022 term were due by December 15. The college will endeavour to review all exemption requests in a timely manner. Students should contact their Associate Dean/Program Head to discuss options for next steps.  

University of Guelph-Humber-specific Vaccination Information 

Are there any vaccination requirements for University of Guelph-Humber staff and students?

The University of Guelph-Humber will be requiring proof of vaccination for students and instructors who will be in the classroom, on campus. Those who are unvaccinated and need access to campus will be asked to follow additional safety protocols, which may include regular COVID-19 testing. It is important to note that the University of Guelph-Humber will accommodate individuals who cannot be vaccinated based on medical or other grounds recognized by the Ontario Human Rights Code. For the full list of University of Guelph-Humber FAQs visit: https://www.guelphhumber.ca/campus-return

How do I know who’s been vaccinated?

In general, you can’t know who has been vaccinated and who has not. That is private medical information.

What do/can I say to my student or colleague who is not vaccinated?

The choice to get a vaccine is personal and may be based on a range of factors including medical, religious or other. As always, staff and students are asked to treat their peers with respect, including understanding the private nature of health-related decisions.

What if I am not comfortable being on campus with people who are not vaccinated?

Humber has a vaccination policy in place for all staff, students and visitors to Humber campuses and facilities. Everyone on campus will need to be in compliance with this policy, by being fully vaccinated or by following protocols established through an exemption process, which includes producing proof of a negative COVID-19 test result from the last 72 hours.  

The choice to get a vaccine is personal and may be based on a range of factors including medical, religious or other. As always, staff and students are asked to treat their peers with respect, including understanding the private nature of health-related decisions and not asking about vaccination status. 

Vaccinations are one of the health and safety measures that can help to reduce the risk of COVID-19. Other measures including continuing to physically distance (2-metres/6 ft) whenever possible, wearing a mask (and face shield in some classes), and frequently washing or sanitizing hands are also important. Students may wish to discuss their concerns with their Program Coordinator, and staff may wish to discuss their concerns with their manager.

General Vaccine Information

How do I get the vaccine?

Members of the Humber/UofGH community are encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccine as recommended by public health. Learn more about the benefits of getting vaccinated.

Eligible residents can book an appointment at immunization clinics in Toronto using the province’s vaccination registration system or by calling the Provincial booking system at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY 1-866-797-0007). Find a clinic location.

What is happening with COVID-19 vaccine boosters?

To protect Ontario’s progress in the fight against COVID-19 in the face of the rapidly-spreading Omicron variant, the Ontario government is expanding COVID-19 vaccine booster eligibility to all individuals aged 18 and over, as well as shortening the interval to three months following an individual’s second dose. 

Starting Monday, December 20, 2021, individuals aged 18 and over will be eligible to schedule their booster dose appointment through Ontario’s booking portal by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre, through Indigenous-led vaccination clinics, participating pharmacies and primary care settings. 

At this time, a booster shot is not required to be considered fully vaccinated as per Humber’s policy.

Is a booster required to be considered fully vaccinated?

At this time, a booster shot is not required to be considered fully vaccinated as per Humber’s policy.

Can the vaccine give me COVID-19?

There are the 2 types of vaccines: mRNA (messenger RNA vaccine: Comirnaty (Pfizer - 2 doses) SpikeVax (Moderna - 2 doses) & viral vector - Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD - 2 doses)  and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson - 1 dose). None of the COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada use the live virus that causes COVID-19. It usually takes the body approximately two weeks to build immunity/develop antibodies. after receiving a vaccine. It is possible that someone could become infected with the COVID-19 virus before or just after getting the vaccine and get sick. This happens because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection in the body.

What are the benefits of getting vaccinated?

  • All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in Canada are safe and effective at reducing the risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19. Learn more about the different COVID-19 vaccines. You can also find additional facts about COVID-19 vaccinations from this Public Health Agency of Canada page
  • All COVID-19 vaccines in development are being carefully evaluated in clinical trials and will be authorized or approved only if they make it substantially less likely to get COVID-19. Learn more about recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Based on government and health information about vaccines for other diseases and early data from clinical trials, experts believe that getting a COVID-19 vaccine helps keep you from getting seriously ill even if you get COVID-19.
  • Experts continue to conduct studies to learn more about how COVID-19 vaccination may reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • In addition to protecting you, getting vaccinated may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Should I get the vaccine if I have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past?

Information provided regarding vaccine safety suggests that it is safe and beneficial to receive the vaccination even after having tested positive for COVID-19, but individuals with such questions or concerns should speak to their own doctors/health providers to determine what is best for them.

I think I have a low risk of contracting COVID-19; do I need to be vaccinated?

Anyone, at any age, can get sick with COVID-19 and become seriously ill or die.

According to the World Health Organization, asymptomatic people infected with the virus can be contagious, and the virus can spread from them to other people. For these reasons, it is crucial to consider getting vaccinated, which may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

There is no evidence that any of the current COVID-19 vaccines can completely stop people from being infected and consequently prevent transmission. However, all approved vaccines in Canada have nearly 100% protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death.

Can I stop following public health guidelines if I am vaccinated?

No. Only when enough people are vaccinated against COVID-19 and cases are down will it be safe to lift public health measures.

It is important to remember that COVID-19 will not be eliminated. Therefore, you will still need to follow some public health measures like physical distancing and wearing masks.

The Government of Canada has released information about what we can look forward to when a certain percentage of the population is vaccinated. See COVID-19: Life after vaccination for more information.

Effectiveness and Safety of Vaccines

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

Vaccines must be tested to ensure they are safe and effective before being authorized for use in Canada. Once a vaccine has been approved for use in Canada, it is monitored for:

  • safety
  • effectiveness (how well it works) in people

Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada share responsibility for ongoing monitoring, which also involves:

  • provincial, territorial and local public health authorities
  • health-care professionals
  • the vaccine industry
  • the public

Information on vaccine safety can be found here.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines effective?

The data shows that all authorized vaccines work well at preventing serious illness requiring hospitalization and at preventing serious illness resulting in death.

All vaccination will reduce the burden of illness and death from COVID-19.

Does the COVID-19 vaccine have side effects?

According to Health Canada, most people who receive vaccines have no or mild side effects, but like any medicine, some people may experience some. Common side effects such as sore arm, muscle ache, headache or mild fever may occur, usually lasting only a few days.

These types of side effects are expected and indicate the vaccine is working to produce protection. As with any medicines and vaccines, allergic reactions are rare but can occur after receiving a vaccine.

Information regarding vaccine side effects can be found here. Any reported side effects following COVID-19 vaccination can be found here.

Can mRNA vaccines change my DNA?

According to Health Canada, messenger RNA (mRNA) is not able to alter or modify a person's genetic makeup (DNA). This is because the mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enters the cell's nucleus, where our DNA is kept. This means the mRNA does not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Instead, COVID-19 vaccines that use mRNA work with the body's natural defences to safely develop protection (immunity) to disease. Information about mRNA vaccines, how they work, safety, effectiveness, monitoring can be found here.

How quickly does the vaccine work? How long does it last?

Health Canada does not yet know for sure how long protection will last. It is likely to be at least several months, but repeat vaccinations are needed. Researchers are studying this closely. Learn more on Vaccine Efficacy Rates

Does the COVID-19 vaccine protect me from new strains of the virus?

According to Health Canada, while early data suggests that these new variants may be more transmissible, to date, there is no evidence that they cause more severe disease or have any impact on antibody response or vaccine effectiveness. However, more research is required to confirm these findings, and the Canadian and global medical, public health, and research communities are actively evaluating these mutations.

Learn more about variants, including the effectiveness of vaccines currently known, on the National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases Website

How do I know there will not be long-term side effects from the vaccine?

According to the Canadian Red Cross, most of vaccine side effects occur shortly after receiving a vaccine, not months or years later. Once a vaccine is approved, scientists and government agencies continue to monitor its safety to identify rare side effects. These monitoring efforts also focus on vulnerable people, including people with specific medical conditions or pregnant women.