KITCHENER -- COVID-19 vaccines are ramping across Ontario and Waterloo Region.

Waterloo Region residents can receive a first or second dose at a clinic, pharmacy or primary care setting. Second doses are available at all locations, regardless of where they received their first dose.

Residents are also encouraged to take whichever mRNA vaccine is available to them at the time of their appointment, regardless of whether it is Pfizer or Moderna.

National officials are now recommending people who received AstraZeneca as a first dose get an mRNA vaccine for their second dose. The window between first and second doses was shortened to eight weeks.

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 province has ramped up second dose administration due to a spike in Delta variant cases in Waterloo Region. Anyone 18 and older is now eligible for an accelerated second dose. People who received Pfizer or Moderna as a first dose can get a second dose as long as 28 days have passed since their first.

Officials said Moderna and Pfizer are interchangeable, since they are both mRNA vaccines.

Walk-ins will be available at all regional clinics for first and second doses starting July 22.

The region will launch a mobile bus vaccine clinic on July 21, and another drive-thru clinic is planned this week at Bingemans.

As of July 1, all vaccine clinics in the region will offer walk-in appointments for first doses.

Starting June 23, Waterloo Region residents will be able to use an upgraded self-serve system to book their COVID-19 vaccine appointments.

Anyone 12 and older will be eligible to book an appointment for a first dose online.

The new system will also have the option to rebook an earlier second dose for eligible residents.

The province released an updated list of pharmacies offering Pfizer and Moderna vaccines on May 14. Appointments are available to people 18 and older for Moderna and 12 and older for Pfizer. A full list of local pharmacies is available here.

WHO IS NEXT IN LINE?

Vaccines are available to everyone 12 and older in Waterloo Region as of May 11.

Residents can book first and second doses online.

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?

A self-serve option for booking first and second doses will launch in Waterloo Region starting June 23.

Pharmacies and primary care providers can also adminster doses. Appointments can be booked directly with that provider.

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 July 19, regional officials said more than 80 per cent of the eligible 12+ population had received their first dose of a vaccine.

More than 58 per cent of the 12+ population has 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?

Provincial vaccine clinics will ramp up in the region starting June 29.

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.

There are 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.

Walk-ins for first doses are available at all vaccine clinics.

WHEN DO I GET MY SECOND DOSE?

People who received an mRNA vaccine as a first dose can get a second dose after 28 days have passed.

Walk-ins are available for first and second doses at all regional COVID-19 vaccine clinics.

On June 3, the province said people who received a first dose of AstraZeneca can choose to receive a second dose of AstraZeneca or an mRNA vaccine.

Second dose intervals for people who received AstraZeneca for a first dose were shortened to eight weeks on June 14.

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.