Algonquin Family Health Team

COVID-19 Vaccine Information

COVID-19 Vaccine – Third doses/Boosters

3rd COVID-19 vaccines are available to book in Muskoka for eligible individuals through either our local public health unit, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit or directly through the Ontario provincial booking site. 

These groups are now eligible if they are > 6 months from their 2nd dose:

  • Individuals aged 70 and over (born in 1951 or earlier)
    • Health care workers and designated essential caregivers in congregate settings (including long-term care home and retirement home staff and designated caregivers)
    • Individuals who received two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine or one dose of the Janssen vaccine
    • First Nation, Inuit and Métis adults and their non-Indigenous household members

This is in addition to the prior groups:

  • Transplant recipients
    • Those with solid tumours or hematological cancers on active treatment
    • Those who are severe primary immunodeficiency or advanced untreated HIV
    • Recipients of specific immunocompromising medications
    • Residents of long-term care homes, retirement homes and First Nation elder care lodges, and seniors living in other congregate settings


COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

What is the goal of the vaccination campaign?

The goal is to immunize as much of the population as possible to achieve what is called “herd immunity” and ultimately end this pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when enough of the population is immune to COVID-19 that it is not being transmitted in the community.

To effectively achieve herd immunity, we need to immunize at least 70% of the population. In Huntsville, that means we need to immunize at least 14000 people. Vaccinations will start with those who are most at risk of spreading or dying from COVID-19.


If I get the vaccine can I stop wearing a mask and social distancing?

NO. Masks and social distancing must continue until such time as the majority of the population have been vaccinated and we have safely decreased the circulation of the virus. It is possible that even those who are vaccinated can have no symptoms of illness but still spread COVID-19 to others who are not vaccinated.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

NO. The vaccine merely contains the instructions for making the COVID-19 spike protein which allows your immune system to recognize the virus and destroy it. Unlike other vaccines, the vaccine does not carry any part of the virus (live or dead).

How do we know the vaccines are safe?

Even though the vaccines were seemingly developed quite quickly, companies followed all mandatory development steps and obtained all mandatory approvals.

mRNA vaccine technology has been in the works for a good ten years and has been extensively researched for influenza, Zika and cancer vaccine trials.   This earlier research, along with lessons learned from SARS virus (2002) and MERS virus (2012), allowed companies to quickly start developing COVID-19 vaccines with more knowledge and experience. Countries also came together to share education, research and technology. This enabled companies to produce the vaccines more quickly than would be possible if working independently.

How effective are the vaccines?

14 days after first dose: 92%
After second dose: 95%

14 days after first dose: 92%
After second dose: 94%

As a comparison
Shingrix is 90-97% effective after two doses
Twinrix is 97% effective after three doses
Adacel (tetanus, pertussis) is 80-90% effective

How long does immunity last?

We know it lasts 3 months based on current data, but it remains to be seen just how long immunity will last from one round of COVID vaccination. Studies are ongoing at this time.

What are the side effects?

Remember that side effects are proof of the vaccine working to spark an immune response. In all cases the side effects are not nearly as severe as infection with COVID-19.

Common side effects: local reaction (sore, red, warm injection site), low grade fever, muscle aches, fatigue, headache, chills, GI effects.

These are similar to the side effects of the majority of vaccines.

There are no long-term side effects known to the vaccine, but we do know that infection with COVID can have long-lasting effects.

Would you recommend the COVID-19 vaccine?

Your doctors in the Algonquin Family Health Team strongly recommend vaccination for COVID-19 both to protect yourself as well as those around you who may not be able to be vaccinated.


COVID Vaccine Myths and Facts

I don’t need a vaccine. I am not at risk/COVID-19 isn’t that bad.

COVID-19 is much more serious than the flu. In Canada, the flu kills roughly 3500 people per year. In less than a year, COVID-19 has killed 4 times that many.

Even if you are young and healthy, having COVID-19 may leave you with long term side effects that could include memory loss, fatigue, body aches, heart and lung damage. Clinics have been set up across Canada to help support those considered to be “long-haulers” of COVID-19. Early studies show that up to 1 in 3 of those infected could have long lasting symptoms. To date this estimated to be over 200,000 Canadians.

Even if you don’t have complications from COVID-19, you may still pass on the virus to those around you who cannot be vaccinated (e.g., infants, patients with cancer or decreased immune systems).

I don’t want to be a guinea pig

The COVID-19 vaccines were produced faster not because of skipped steps but because of never-before-seen levels of collaboration and funding around the world invested in this effort.

Normally, vaccine trials need 6000-8000 people for the approval process. The Pfizer trial had over 40 000 people and the Moderna trial over 30 000.

Also, unlike other vaccines that are approved in a step-wise fashion, governments around the world invested in having companies plan all the steps at the beginning and build up manufacturing capacity right away.

By the time the majority of Canadians are vaccinated there will have been more people around the world who have received the vaccine than the entire population of Canada.

As of January 25, 2021, 14 400 individuals in Simcoe Muskoka have been vaccinated. Nearly 5000 high risk individuals working in long term care, retirement homes have been immunized. Ninety percent of LTC home residents have received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose. There have been no serious reactions reported.

What if I have an allergic reaction?

Based on vaccines given around the world, the risk of an anaphylactic reaction with the Pfizer vaccine is 1 in 90,000. You have a higher risk of being hit by lightning where the odds are 1 in 15,030.

At our vaccination clinics, we will have trained staff, physicians and emergency equipment available if a severe reaction does happen to occur.

I’m worried about having a sore arm afterwards

Sore arm, fever, muscle aches etc. are common after any vaccine. These are expected side effects. You may feel crummy, but you can feel secure in the knowledge that your immune system is working and mounting an appropriate response to the vaccine.

There is no evidence supporting pre-medication, but you may wish to consider Tylenol 1g three times a day starting the day prior to your vaccine and continuing until one day after vaccine.

The vaccine will affect my DNA

NO. The vaccine is comprised of mRNA which provides the instruction manual for creating the spike protein. It is degraded quickly. At no point does it affect your DNA.

I can’t receive the vaccine because I’m pregnant, immune suppressed or have an autoimmune disorder.

While the studies didn’t specifically look at these groups of people it is thought that the benefit of vaccination outweighs any potential risks. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada has said that pregnant women at higher risk of COVID (health care workers , women with other health conditions, etc) should be offered the vaccine as they risk severe illness with COVID infection.

People on immunosuppressants may not mount the same degree of immune response, but again the benefit outweighs the risk.

Those with autoimmune diseases were also not studied, but it is once again felt the benefits of vaccination outweighs any potential risks.

The vaccines contain mercury, formaldehyde, aluminum or fetal cells.

NO. The vaccines do not contain any of these components.

Our Bottom Line message to you:
If you have any questions or concerns about the vaccine, please let us know so we can discuss these with you. Your doctors in the Algonquin Family Health Team strongly encourage you to get your COVID-19 vaccine when it is offered. It is safe and it is the fastest way to return to our normal daily lives.  


COVID-19 assessment centre

Muskoka COVID-19 Assessment Centres

Please click on the below Government of Ontario link for all information pertaining to COVID-19 testing in Muskoka:


Here are some other Health Care related websites that may be of interest.

Apps to help track various health issues:
Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care:
Muskoka Algonquin Health Care (Huntsville and Bracebridge Hospitals):
Canadian government site promoting physical activity:
Community Mental Health Association:
Eat Right Ontario:
Eat Right – Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
211 Ontario:
Canadian Diabetes Association:
Cancer Care Ontario:
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario:
Heart and Stroke Foundation:
Simcoe-Muskoka Health Unit:
Dietitians of Canada:
Pulse Canada:
Dr. Mike Evans –

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