COVID-19 Vaccine Information

To book your first, second, or booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine you can call the Provincial booking centre at 1-888-999-6488 or use the online portal at .

If you are a patient of the Physicians or Nurse Practitioners with the Haliburton Family Medical Centre and Haliburton Highlands Family Health Team, you may be able to receive your COVID-19 vaccination or booster at our office. Please call for availability.

How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

Two COVID-19 vaccines were recently approved by Health Canada: Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Both vaccines are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. “Messenger” vaccines work by sending information to your body so that it will be ready to fight COVID-19, if you are ever exposed.

More specifically, when you are given the vaccine (by injection into the muscle of the arm), the instructions (mRNA) enter your immune cells. The cells follow these instructions like a recipe and this allows them to make a harmless piece of what is called the “spike protein”. This protein is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Once your body makes the spike protein pieces, your cells display them on their surface. This will alarm your immune system – because it recognizes that the protein pieces don’t belong there – and it will start to make antibodies. Antibodies help the body fight viruses by getting rid of “invaders”, such as spike protein pieces, that can cause infections. This process is what keeps the virus from “attacking” the body and what allows it to build immunity against COVID-19 overtime.

Your body is very smart. Once it learns how to fight off a specific virus, it remembers how to do it again. The benefit of mRNA vaccines, just like other vaccines, is that it helps your body develop immunity by learning to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 without having to get the illness.

How was the COVID-19 vaccine developed so fast?

mRNA vaccines are new, but they are not unknown. Researchers discovered mRNA technology over thirty years ago. In fact, scientists have been studying and working on a coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) vaccine since the SARS outbreak in 2003. Therefore, there are many years of research behind this “new” technology, which allows for easier vaccine production.

Past research, in combination with endless financial and administrative support from governments, helped scientists around the world work together to develop a COVID-19 vaccine rapidly. This achievement is a result of global collaboration and the elimination of the “red tape” that typically slows down vaccine production.

Once vaccines are developed, they have to pass an in-depth review process by Health Canada before being approved. No safety requirements in clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine were bypassed. The criteria were just as strict as the regular process for any other vaccine.

What are the benefits of getting vaccinated for COVID-19?

COVID-19 can have serious, life-threatening complications, and there is no way to know how the virus will affect you. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine may help you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19. It may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Although COVID-19 has a high survival rate, it’s important to understand that symptoms can persist for weeks or months after infection, even in young and otherwise healthy people. COVID-19 can also cause damage to the lungs, heart and brain, which increases the risk of long-term health problems. Therefore, the vaccine benefits outweigh the known risks of contracting COVID-19.

Following public health recommendations (e.g., wearing masks, social distancing) help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures are not enough. Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools we have available. The combination of getting vaccinated and following public health advice will offer you and others the best protection against COVID-19.

Overtime, vaccination will also allow ‘normal’ life to resume. This means that a lot of the things that you may currently be missing, such as physical contact with others, travel, sporting events, play dates, etc., will no longer seem so out of reach. That said, getting vaccinated for COVID-19 will not only help you get closer to a new normal, but it will help your neighbours, community and country get back to enjoying these aspects of life again too.

COVID vaccines for Ontario, getting the vaccine, and vaccine safety