COVID-19: Making vaccination decisions for children 5 to 11 years of age

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Supporting vaccine decisions

As a parent or guardian, you want what's best for your child. It's normal to ask questions about COVID-19 vaccines before making a decision.

If you need more information or have questions, consult a health care provider. You can also find information on trusted websites like Canada.ca or your local public health authority's website.

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Vaccines for children 5 to 11 years of age

Health Canada has approved the following COVID-19 vaccines for children:

The Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty pediatric vaccine is one third of the dose used for people 12 years of age and older. The Moderna Spikevax pediatric vaccine is half of the dose used in the primary series for people 12 years of age and older.

The National Advisory Council on Immunization strongly recommends that children in the approved age groups:

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.

The Moderna Spikevax vaccine may be offered to children 6 to 11 years of age as an alternative.

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Considerations for vaccination

As parents and guardians, consider the following when you're thinking about vaccinations for your child.

Impact of your child getting COVID-19

Children who get COVID-19 usually have no symptoms or only mild symptoms. Although they're less likely than adults to get very sick, some do experience serious outcomes. These can include hospitalization or, in rare cases, death.

There's also a risk of developing multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) after COVID-19 infection. MIS-C is a rare but serious condition that can occur weeks after infection.

Children may be at risk of post-COVID-19 condition (also called long COVID). Although the evidence is limited, it appears children may be at lower risk than adults of developing this condition.

Getting children in your care vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine will increase their protection against the disease.

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Current health of your child

Your child's risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 may be increased if they have certain underlying medical conditions. These include:

If you don't know if your child is at increased risk of severe outcomes because of an underlying medical condition, ask a health care provider.

Exposure to COVID-19

COVID-19 variants of concern that are more contagious pose a particular risk for those who are unvaccinated. This is especially the case when the unvaccinated people get together in larger groups, such as children in schools or childcare centres. However, the risk of severe disease in children remains low.

If someone becomes infected with COVID-19, they should isolate at home to prevent spreading infection to others. For children, that will mean they won't be able to take part in in-person events during this time, such as going to school or extra-curricular activities.

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At-risk people in your household

Vaccinated people are less likely to be infected and less likely to pass infection on to others. Vaccination of children may help prevent infection from spreading in households. This protection may decrease over time and isn't as effective for Omicron as with other variants.

We'll learn more over time about how well the vaccines work to prevent transmission.

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Protection from COVID-19

Clinical trial data showed the pediatric mRNA vaccines provide a good immune response in children. This is similar to the immune response seen in young adults.

Children who have already had COVID-19 should still get vaccinated to protect themselves from getting infected again. While infection alone provides some immunity, vaccination after infection helps improve the immune response, including making it last longer.

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Vaccine safety in Canada

Millions of children have safely received the pediatric Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine in Canada and around the world. Serious side effects continue to be very rare.

The Moderna Spikevax vaccine was more recently approved for use in children. In clinical trials no safety issues were detected. Data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be monitored as they’re more widely used.

Monitoring is 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.

In addition to the routine safety monitoring system for vaccines, Canada has a safety surveillance system specifically for tracking serious side effects of children's vaccinations. The Canadian Immunization Monitoring Program, or IMPACT, has monitored childhood immunizations for more than 20 years. IMPACT operates in 12 children's hospitals in Canada and is now collecting data about COVID-19 vaccines in children 5 to 11 years old.

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