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 May 11, everyone aged 12 and older in Waterloo Region can pre-register for a vaccine appointment. Officials said appointments will be available within four to six weeks.

The province released an updated list of pharmacies offering Pfizer and Moderna vaccines on May 14. Most are offering appointments to people over 40, and some are available to people over 18. A full list of local pharmacies is available here.

There were multiple groups added on March 30, including 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. Pregnant people were added to the priority list on April 23.

Front-line staff unable to work from home were able to pre-register as of April 20.

On April 28, pre-registration opened to all essential workers who can't work from home.

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

Adults aged 45 or older can pre-register starting on April 28 in high-risk neighbourhoods, including Vanier/Rockway, Country Hills, Alpine/Laurentian, Victoria Hills/Cherry Hills, Columbia/Lakeshore 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.

Adults aged 18 and older living in Waterloo Region's high-risk neighbourhoods can pre-register starting May 3.

Some pharmacies and primary care providers were offering AstraZeneca vaccines, but the province announced on May 11 it would stop administering first doses of that vaccine due to concerns over rare blood clots.

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.

WHO IS NEXT IN LINE?

Pre-registration is open to everyone 12 and older in Waterloo Region as of May 11.

Regional officials said appointments will be available within four to six weeks, and will be offered based on eligibility.

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.

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 provincial guidelines extending the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses to 16 weeks.

On May 14, regional officials said highest-risk health-care workers are eligible for a shortened interval between doses. A full list is available here.

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.