Vaccines for children: COVID-19

Ready to vaccinate?

Book an appointment

On this page

Importance of vaccination

COVID-19 is having a significant impact on the mental and physical well-being of children, youth and their families.

Although children and youth are less likely to get really sick from COVID-19, they can still:

Children and youth with certain underlying medical conditions may have a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines help the body fight off the virus. Like adults, children and youth are well protected against severe illness 14 days after their second dose. How long protection lasts is still being evaluated.

Learn more about:

Vaccination after being infected with COVID-19

Those who have already had COVID-19 should still get vaccinated to protect themselves from getting infected again.

Children and youth who experienced a COVID-19 infection before receiving their first or second dose of their primary series should wait:

Youth 12 to 17 years of age eligible for a booster dose should wait:

Learn more about:

Possible side effects

Side effects are expected as your body responds to a vaccine.

Some people have no side effects while others may have some type of reaction. Reactions are most often mild and go away by themselves within hours or days. The COVID-19 vaccine ingredients are no longer in the body after a few days. Only the immune response to protect against COVID-19 remains.

Common vaccine side effects may include:
Symptoms at the injection site, such as: More general symptoms, such as:
  • redness
  • soreness
  • swelling
  • chills
  • fatigue
  • joint pain
  • headache
  • mild fever
  • muscle aches

Myocarditis and pericarditis

Myocarditis is the inflammation of the heart muscle, while pericarditis refers to inflammation of the lining that surrounds the outside of the heart.

Cases of myocarditis and pericarditis following vaccination with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have been reported. Cases are:

  • rare in youth and adults, and very rare in children
  • usually mild and people usually recover quickly after receiving medical care

Data has shown that cases occur less often with the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine compared to the Moderna Spikevax vaccine in people 12 to 29 years of age. 

For the primary series, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine be given over the Moderna Spikevax vaccine.

Talk to your health care provider about the timing for your child’s second dose.

Learn more about:

Learn more about:

How the vaccines are studied and tested for children and youth

Clinical trials looked at the immune response, safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. For instance, for the primary series the:

In these studies:

Health Canada continues to monitor reactions reported following vaccination. Millions of children have safely received the pediatric Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine in Canada and around the world. The evidence continues to demonstrate that the vaccine:

Serious side effects continue to be very rare.

Learn more about:

Monitoring for safety

Vaccine manufacturers continue to collect information about safety from clinical trial participants. Canada’s vaccine safety monitoring system also helps to detect any possible rare side effects that didn’t appear in the clinical trials.

Canada also has a safety surveillance system in place that’s specifically designed for monitoring pediatric vaccinations. The Immunization Monitoring Program ACTive (IMPACT) is a pediatric, hospital-based network administered by the Canadian Paediatric Society. It has been used to monitor childhood immunizations, such as measles, mumps and rubella, for more than 20 years.

In addition, monitoring is also done by:

These organizations continue to monitor the COVID-19 vaccines for safety as they become more widely used in Canada and around the world.

Learn more about:

Have a positive vaccination experience

Children and youth may have concerns about vaccination. Knowing what to expect can help ease worries and make vaccination a positive experience for your family.

Learn more about:

Have a family discussion about vaccination

Talk to children and youth about the importance of getting vaccinated.

  • Tell them about vaccination using age-appropriate language.
  • Tell them what will happen and how it will feel.
  • Communicate using neutral language.
    • Try using words such as 'pressure' or 'poke' to describe how it might feel.
    • Avoid misleading information like 'it won't hurt.'
  • Answer their questions and tell them what you'll do to help make it a better experience.
  • Teach them about false information, and make sure they know to:
    • ask questions if they aren't sure
    • verify information before sharing it with others

Learn more about:

At the vaccination appointment

For the vaccination appointment, pick coping strategies based on each child’s needs and preferences. Try:

  • distraction (such as toys, games, music, talking or watching videos)
  • relaxation techniques (such as deep belly breathing)
  • medication to numb the skin (topical anesthetic)
    • this medication dulls the sensation from the needle, and you can get it from the pharmacy without a prescription
    • medication should be applied 30 to 60 minutes before the appointment, so plan ahead

If your child is very afraid of needles, talk to your health care provider about it. They might suggest treatment with an expert such as a psychologist. Treating needle fear can help children to accept vaccination and other needle procedures.

Learn more about:

Vaccines approved for children and youth

Children (5 to 11 years old)

Health Canada has approved the:

The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for children use a smaller dose than for those who are 12 years of age and older. This is because, in clinical trials, lower doses provided children with very good protection against COVID-19. How long protection lasts in children and youth is still being evaluated.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that:

Children who are moderately to severely immunocompromised should receive 3 doses. The recommended interval is 4 to 8 weeks between each dose. Children who turn 12 before their second dose should receive an adult dose for their second dose.

The Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine is preferred for children 5 to 11 years old. This is because more data is available from the real-world use of this vaccine. Millions of children have safely received this vaccine in Canada and around the world.

Learn more about:

Youth (12 to 17 years old)

Health Canada has approved the following mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for youth 12 years of age and older:

It’s recommended that youth 12 to 17 years old receive 2 doses of an mRNA vaccine. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that the second dose be given 8 weeks after the first dose.

Youth that are moderately to severely immunocompromised should receive 3 doses as part of their primary series. The recommended interval is 4 to 8 weeks between each dose.

Some youth may be at higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 infection. In such cases, youth may receive a booster dose of an mRNA vaccine 6 months after completing their primary series.

The Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine is preferred for youth 12 to 29 years old for both the primary series and booster dose. This is to further minimize the rare risk of myocarditis following vaccination in this age group.

Adults and youth may receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time, or any time before or after, other vaccines.

Learn more about:

Protect unvaccinated children

Unvaccinated people are more likely to get sick from COVID-19 compared to those who are vaccinated. Vaccinating those who interact with children, including caregivers, will help to protect children.

Regardless of your vaccination status, continue to:

It's important to respect choices made by caregivers. We'll continue to provide updates as more data emerges to help caregivers make an informed decision about COVID-19 vaccination.

Learn more about:

Related links

Did you find what you were looking for?

What was wrong?

You will not receive a reply. Telephone numbers and email addresses will be removed.
Maximum 300 characters

Thank you for your feedback

Date modified: