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.

Plans are in the works for mobile clinics in the region in the coming days. Officials said they've also expanded capacity at the Cambridge Pine Bush clinic to administer 1,000 more doses a day.

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 who received an mRNA vaccine before May 9 can now book an accelerated second dose. That will expand to anyone vaccinated on or before May 30 starting on June 23.

On June 20, regional officials said clinics will give out Moderna instead of Pfizer this week due to a Pfizer supply shortage in Ontario. Pfizer doses will be saved for people between 12 and 17.

All appointments will be honoured, the region said.

Last week, officials said Moderna and Pfizer are interchangeable, since they are both mRNA vaccines.

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 June 22, regional officials said more than 75 per cent of the eligible 18+ population had received their first dose of a vaccine.

More than 94,000 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.

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.

First doses will be available for walk-ins at three clinics starting on June 23.

WHEN DO I GET MY SECOND DOSE?

Starting June 23, people who received a first mRNA dose on or before May 30 are eligible to book a second dose.

People between 12 and 17 years old will also be eligible for a shortened second-dose interval in an effort to have students fully vaccinated before they return to school in September.

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.