KITCHENER -- COVID-19 vaccines are rolling out across Ontario and Waterloo Region. While the process has faced delays since the first shots were given in December, things are moving ahead.

Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine in Waterloo Region, including locations, how to register, and who is next in line.

WHO CAN GET VACCINATED RIGHT NOW?

The Ontario government has outlined a three-phase approach that prioritizes vaccinations for the most vulnerable people.

As of March 30, regional officials opened pre-registration to people aged 60 to 69, along with other priority groups. Groups added on March 30 include faith leaders in close contact with people for end-of-life care, along with residents and staff working with some vulnerable populations and one essential caregiver for people living in congregate settings.

Pre-registration is also available for people with specific health conditions. A full list of eligibilty is available here.

Adults aged 50 or older can pre-register starting on April 8 in high-risk neighbourhoods, including Vanier/Rockway, Country Hills, Alpine/Laurentian, Victoria Hills/Cherry Hills, and Shades Mills.

Special education staff at the region's public and Catholic school boards are also eligible to receive the vaccine, officials said on April 7. They will contact staff who can get the vaccine directly.

Pharmacies in Waterloo Region will start administering AstraZeneca to people aged 40 and over starting April 20. A full list of eligible pharmacies is available here, with many more locations are expected to start offering appointments in the coming weeks.

Primary care physicians are also booking vaccine appointments for some clients for AstraZeneca vaccines in the region.

This map shows where people can get an AstraZeneca vaccine in Waterloo Region:

Pharmacies are blue; primary care settings are green

WHO IS NEXT IN LINE?

Frontline essential workers like first responders, education workers and food processing industry workers will also receive vaccines in the second phase of vaccine rollout.

Those with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers will also get priority for vaccine in this phase, as will other populations in Ontario who are facing barriers and are at higher risk.

The province released more details on who is eligible in Phase Two on March 24.

Phase Two is expected to last until June.

HOW WILL I FIND OUT WHEN I CAN RECEIVE THE VACCINE?

Waterloo Region's vaccination task force will share more information as it becomes available. Primarily, the task force will communicate vaccine updates through:

  • Social media and its website
  • Media outlets like CTV Kitchener
  • Community partners like pharmacists

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WHERE DO I SIGN UP?

The province opened its COVID-19 vaccination registration system on March 15, but Waterloo Region said it will continue to use its own pre-registration system for now.

Anyone who has pre-registered will be contacted when an appointment is available.

Libraries in Waterloo Region are helping people over 80 book appointments over the phone.

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW BEFORE REGISTERING?

The COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary but strongly recommended.

You can't get COVID-19 from the vaccine—none of the vaccines that have been approved by Health Canada use the live virus which causes the disease.

Side effects for the vaccine are likely to be moderate and resolve in a few days. Those include pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint paint, chills or fever.

In rare cases, people have had allergic reactions to the vaccination. These can be treated and are usually temporary.

Once Canada starts using a vaccine, the country monitors its use to alert public health officials about any unusual adverse events that weren't previously reported.

WHO HAS ALREADY RECEIVED THE VACCINE?

As of April 15, regional officials said 25 per cent of the eligible population had received their first dose of a vaccine.

More than 15,000 people have been fully vaccinated, meaning they have received both doses and are considered immunized.

The provincial target for successful immunization coverage is 75 per cent.

WHERE ARE THE VACCINES BEING DISTRIBUTED?

The region will offer vaccines through five different types of clinics: the hospital and mobile clinics, large public health and primary care clinics, and finally through retail pharmacies.

As of March 15, there were clinics located at 435 The Boardwalk in Waterloo, Langs Community Centre in Cambridge, Kitchener's Health Science Campus at 10 Victoria St. South and a clinic in Wellesley Township at 3710 Nafziger Dr.

A clinic opened at the old RONA location at 66 Pinebush Rd. in Cambridge on March 22.

The clinic at Grand River Hospital adminstered vaccine doses until March 19, before moving operations to the Pinebush Road location in Cambridge.

Pop-up clinics for Indigenous populations are planned for late March.

On March 27, Waterloo Region's first vaccine site at a primary care office opened up in Elmira. However, this site is not available to the public, as only eligible patients from the office are being contacted.

On April 8, the region opened a clinic at New Vision Family Health at 421 Greenbrook Dr. in Kitchener. A clinic at the North Dumfries Communith Health Centre in Ayr opened on April 13.

Another clinic is expected to open on 1145 Concession Rd. in Cambridge on April 20.

Mobile teams continue to administer vaccines to seniors living in congregate care settings.

WHEN DO I GET MY SECOND DOSE?

The Ontario government requires that long-term care and retirement home residents receive their second dose within 21 to 27 days of their first.

Waterloo Region will follow new provincial guidelines extending the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses to 16 weeks.

WHO DO I CONTACT IF I HAVE QUESTIONS?

If you work or live in a long-term care or retirement home or a congregate living facility, public health officials recommend that you contact your facility directly.

Those who work at a hospital should ask their occupational health and safety advisor.