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 approved the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine for use in children 5 to 11 years of age. So far, it's the only vaccine approved for use in this age group in Canada.

Health Canada completed a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence. They concluded that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks in children 5 to 11 years of age.

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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 have 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 are also 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.

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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 risk of severe outcomes because of an underlying medical condition, ask a health care provider.

Exposure to COVID-19

Right now, children under 12 years of age have the highest rate of COVID-19 across all age groups in Canada. This is in part because this age group hasn't had access to vaccinations until recently.

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 from the currently circulating Delta variant remains low and the Omicron variant is being assessed.

The more in-person activities your child takes part in, the more likely they are to be exposed to COVID-19. This includes school and other extra-curricular activities.

If someone becomes infected with COVID-19, they'll need to isolate at home. For children, that will mean they won't be able to take part in some activities, such as going to school or extra-curricular activities during this time.

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At-risk people in your household

Because vaccinated children are less likely to be infected, they'll be less likely to spread infection to others. Vaccination of children may help:

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

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Protection from COVID-19

Clinical trial data showed a good immune response in children 5 to 11 years of age. This is similar to young adults 16 to 25 years of age. In the clinical trial, the effectiveness of the vaccine to prevent symptoms in children aged 5 to 11 was 90.7%.

Children who previously had COVID-19 may have some protection, but this protection from future infections will be much better if they're also vaccinated.

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Awareness of rare side effects

In clinical trials of children 5 to 11 years of age, no safety concerns were found for the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine. However, it's possible that rare side effects may not be detected in a clinical trial.

As with all vaccines, more information from widespread use is needed to determine if there are any rare side effects.

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Vaccine safety in Canada

We continue to closely monitor the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines in Canada and around the world.

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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