Protect Yourself and Others
For general COVID-19 Vaccine information:
- Call Provincial Vaccine Info Line at 1-888-999-6488 (TTY 1-866-797-0007)
- Ask your health care provider
- Book appointment with SHN to speak with a doctor online or call 416-438-2911 ext. 5738
- Book appointment with Sick Kids Hospital to speak with a pediatric nurse about COVID-19 vaccines for youth.
For COVID-19 Vaccine booking information:
Respiratory illnesses, like the common cold, flu, and COVID-19 share many similar symptoms.
- Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle aches
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Nausea or vomiting
- New loss of taste or smell
If you feel sick, it’s important that you stay home and talk with a primary care provider or doctor if necessary. If you develop severe symptoms requiring medical attention, such as shortness of breath or chest pain, call 911 immediately
Wash your hands often with soap & water or hand sanitizer
Our hands are one of the most common spreaders of germs, both from others to us and us to others. Keeping your hands clean, either by washing them with soap and water or by using hand sanitizer regularly and around key moments, helps reduce the number of germs and prevents spread of disease
Practice healthy respiratory etiquette
When we cough or sneeze into the air, germs can be spread in our immediate area in droplets that settle and contaminate surfaces. By coughing or sneezing into our hands, this can spread these germs to our hands then on to anything we touch.
This is why it’s best to cover your mouth and nose with your elbow, tissue, or handkerchief when you cough or sneeze as it limits the release of these germ-containing droplets. Don’t forget to dispose of tissues properly and wash handkerchiefs regularly
Screening & Self-assessment
- Keep an eye on your own health to see if you’re developing any new symptoms of respiratory or stomach illnesses
- For example, have you started feeling feverish, developed a new cough or runny nose, have an unexplained headache or feeling of tiredness, and/or new bouts of nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea?
- If you have, consider limiting your social interactions with others, as these might be the first signs that you’re getting sick
- If you think you have COVID-19, take a COVID-19 self-assessment to find out what you should do
- Take the long-term care home screener to find out if it’s safe to visit or go to work in a long-term care home
Staying Home When Sick
- If you are sick, it’s best to stay home to prevent spreading the illness to others, except to seek testing or medical care if required
- You should stay home until all the following apply to you:
- Your symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if you had nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea)
- You do not have a fever
- You do not develop any additional symptoms
- When your symptoms are improving and you no longer need to stay at home, doing the following for 10 days after your symptoms started can provide extra protection against the spread germs:
- Wear a tight-fitting, well-constructed mask in all public settings
- Avoid non-essential activities where you need to take off your mask (for example, dining out)
- Avoid non-essential visits to anyone who is at higher-risk of illness (for example, older adults)
- Avoid non-essential visits to higher risk settings in the community such as hospitals and long-term care homes
Hamiltonians may consider wearing tight-fitting, well-constructed mask in indoor public settings, especially anyone at higher risk of severe infection. Some settings, like long-term care homes or retirement homes, have specific masking policies that should be followed.
- Learn more about COVID-19 guidance for long-term care homes
- Learn more about COVID-19 guidance for retirement homes
Please note that residents of long-term care homes or retirement homes are not required to wear masks.
Temporarily Taking Off Your Mask
If you are is a setting that requires masking, you should be able to take it off temporarily:
- To receive services that require you to take it off (for example, at the dentist or doctor’s office)
- To engage in an athletic or fitness activity
- To eat or drink
- As necessary for health and safety purposes
Exceptions to Masking
In settings where masking is advised or is required, there are some situations when you should not need to wear one. These include:
- Children – Wearing a mask is not recommended for children younger than two years old
- Health and Accommodations – You should not need to provide medical documentation to support any of the exceptions below
- Have a medical condition that inhibits your ability to wear a face covering
- Are unable to put on or remove your face covering without help from someone else
- Receiving accommodations according to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 or the Human Rights Code.
Poor ventilation in indoor spaces is linked to increased transmission of respiratory infections, particularly if the space is small. Ventilation should be improved whenever possible by increasing the amount of fresh air that flows into a space and by removing virus particles from the air
To improve the ventilation of indoor spaces, you can:
- Open windows and doors regularly when possible. If weather, safety or air quality are a concern, open doors or windows for a small amount or for a few minutes at a time.
- Use portable air cleaners/filterers
- Use ceiling fans or portable fans positioned away from people and near open windows and doors to bring in fresh air, weather permitting
To reduce your personal risk, you can also consider wearing a well-fitted mask, limiting the amount of time spent in crowded indoor spaces, and keeping your distance from others
Cleaning is the physical removal of dirt and germs from a surface by wiping, scrubbing, or washing. Disinfecting on the other hand kills germs using a chemical solution.
- Some products can only be used for cleaning, some products can only be used for disinfecting, while some can be used for both. Make sure you read the instructions to understand how best to use the product
When cleaning and disinfecting, it’s important to focus on high-touch surfaces and objects in your home, especially when they’re visibly dirty or when someone in your home is sick. These are areas where germs are likely to settle
- High-touch surfaces and objects in your home may include:
- Toys, toilets, light switches, laundry hampers, phones, television remotes, & other electronics, door handles, doorknobs, refrigerators, dishwashers, cabinets, & faucets
Depending on the product you’re using, you may need to:
- Wear protective equipment like gloves, safety glasses or goggles
- If you’re using gloves, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after you remove them. If you don’t have any soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 70% alcohol
- Open a window or use fans to move the air around. Some products need to be used in well-ventilated areas
- Make sure the product is on the object or surface for enough time for it to do its job
- Properly store and dispose of the product when you’re finished