COVID-19 vaccines

Learn more about administering vaccines in Ontario and reporting adverse events following immunization

Latest COVID-19 vaccine recommendations

The Ministry of Health released updated COVID-19 vaccine guidance this spring. The updated guidance states that the following individuals at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 may receive an additional dose of an XBB vaccine during the Ontario spring 2024 vaccination campaign, which runs from April to June 2024:

  • Adults aged 65 years +
  • Residents of long-term care homes and other congregate living settings for seniors
  • Individuals aged 6 months + who are moderately to severely immunocompromised due to treatment or an underlying condition
  • Individuals aged 55 years + who identify as First Nations, Inuit or Métis, and their non-Indigenous household members within this age group

It is particularly important for individuals who are at increased risk of severe COVID-19 to get a spring dose if they did not receive a dose during fall 2023.

In addition to the group above, unvaccinated individuals, especially those at high risk, should complete a COVID-19 vaccine series.  

Other individuals who are not currently recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine dose in spring 2024 should wait until further Ministry recommendations. Physicians are able to recommend additional doses or shorter intervals based on clinical discretion and your patient’s personal circumstances.

XBB.1.5 vaccines are the only products currently available in Ontario. For individuals 12 years of age and older, the XBB mRNA and Novavax XBB vaccines are viewed as equivalent. For children six months to four years of age receiving an initial vaccine series, the Moderna XBB vaccine is preferred over the Pfizer XBB vaccine, since it has fewer doses.

Booking COVID-19 vaccines

Appointments can be booked through the COVID-19 vaccination portal or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900. Eligible individuals can also book an appointment directly through public health units that use their own booking systems, Indigenous-led vaccination clinics, participating health-care providers and participating pharmacies.

Observation period

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends a 15-minute observation period following COVID-19 vaccination. If there is concern about a possible vaccine reaction, a 30-minute observation is preferred.

Eligibility to administer vaccines

Physicians, supervised medical students, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and practical nurses can administer the COVID-19 vaccine. The O.Reg. 107/96 under the Regulated Health Professionals Act, 1991 (RHPA) has been amended to allow pharmacists, pharmacy students, interns and pharmacy technicians to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. 

COVax: Ontario's COVID-19 vaccine administration application 

COVax is a real-time, web application that supports the planning and administration of COVID-19 vaccines in Ontario. All immunizers must continue to use this program to record doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered. This database can be accessed by authorized users from any device.

The Ministry of Health has a COVax service desk available to support primary care practices administering COVID-19 vaccines.

Vaccine administration errors 

In the event of a vaccine administration error, refer to the Ministry of Health’s vaccine guidance, which states that you should notify your local Public Health Unit. If the vaccine administration error results in an adverse event following immunization, complete Ontario’s AEFI reporting form and submit it to your local PHU.

Adverse Events Following Immunizations (AEFI)

All adverse events should be reported using the adverse event following immunization form to understand any effects of the COVID-19 vaccines in practice. This includes both immediate reactions as well as those that may appear days later. Adverse events should be reported upon first presentation, however, multiple reports per patient will be collated. Completed forms should be sent to the local Public Health Unit for investigation. Learn more about the reporting criteria.

Vaccine injury support program

The Public Health Agency’s new pan-Canadian vaccine injury support program is now accepting claims from individuals who experience a serious, permanent injury as a result of receiving a Health Canada-authorized vaccine, and those who are dependents or successions of an individual who has died after vaccination. This program is administered by RCGT Consulting on behalf of the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Medical-legal questions related to COVID-19 vaccination

The Canadian Medical Protective Association has an FAQ document on medical-legal considerations related to COVID-19 vaccination.

For other legal inquiries, please contact OMA Legal Affairs.

Practice considerations for vaccines

Read the OMA’s guides when planning to offer the COVID-19 vaccine in your practice or clinic.

COVID-19 vaccine allergies

A tool to determine the appropriate management of patients with allergies.

Vaccine hesitancy

The OMA has created resources to address vaccine hesitancy including an overview of vaccine hesitancy and practical approaches for how to have effective conversations with patients. 

Ontario eConsult Centre of Excellence

The Ontario eConsult Centre of Excellence has created specialty groups to allow physicians and nurse practitioners to ask specialists COVID-related clinical questions for certain populations. These groups include:

Sign up for eConsult or complete the intake form and someone will assist you.