Skip to main content

Children and COVID-19 Vaccination

Information on COVID-19 vaccination for children and young people.

Last updated: September 16, 2022

Information available in: ASL


COVID-19 vaccines are authorized by Health Canada for children. Getting all the recommended doses helps protect children against severe illness from COVID-19.

Register your child for vaccine appointments

Even though severe illnesses from COVID-19 in children are not common, they can occur.  Vaccinating children helps keep them safe by preventing severe illness.


Even if they already had COVID-19, the vaccine can provide a stronger and longer lasting immune response. 


Vaccines can make it less likely that children will miss out on important activities, like school, sports and social events.

 

Vaccinating your child with all recommended vaccines is very important. 


Learn more


Under 5

Children between 6 months and 4 years of age can now get vaccinated against COVID-19. The vaccines are free and your child does not need a BC care card in order to get these vaccines.

What parents need to know

Vaccinesunder11_infosheet.PNGGetting children vaccinated against COVID-19 protects them from serious illness if they are infected by COVID-19.

Read our handout for parents

Translated Content: ASLArabic | Simplified Chinese | Traditional Chinese | Farsi | French | Korean | Russian | Spanish | Punjabi | Vietnamese

Dosage

Infants and young children only need a small dose of vaccine to develop a similar level of protection against serious illness as adults.

Moderna Spikevax
Children under 5 will receive a two-dose primary series of 25 micrograms each of Moderna Spikevax, which is a quarter of the dosage for adults.

Consent

Consent is required for children to get a COVID-19 vaccine and can be provided by one of the following at the appointment: 
  • Parent, legal guardian or foster parent
  • Custodial caregiver like a grandparent or relative
See bc.gov for more information on consent.

Preparing your child for vaccine appointment

Toddlers and pre-school age children should be informed about the vaccine only shortly before the clinic visit or appointment.


Some people find that numbing creams or patches help. You can buy these without a prescription at most pharmacies. These can be applied an hour before the vaccine appointment.  The pharmacist will be able to show you how to apply them.


 

Do not focus your child’s attention on the needle with comments like “It’ll be over soon, and you’ll be okay.” Research shows that reassurance and apologies offered before the immunization are associated with increased stress in the child. 

Instead, try distracting them with toys or talking, or have them pretend to blow bubbles which can slow their breathing and help them stay calm. Research shows that the part of the brain that processes pain is less active when children are distracted.

Cuddle your baby or child firmly in your lap in a seated position to calm your child and keep their legs and arms still so the vaccine can be given safely. Sitting in an upright position helps children feel safe and in control. The staff at the clinic can help you hold your child in the best position.

Babies

  • Breastfed babies: You can breastfeed your baby before, during, and after the immunization. Research shows that this is safe and comforts and distracts your baby. Breast milk also contains natural calming substances.
  • Formula fed babies: A small amount of sucrose solution can be given immediately before the immunization for babies up to 12 months of age. Research shows that, given 1-2 minutes before an immunization, this solution can reduce pain. Find information on preparing this at Healthlink.ca. Do not use sugar at home to calm upset or crying babies.
Healthcare providers at immunization clinics are trained to work with children and can help you work with your child to support them.

For more information on immunizations visit Immunize BC at https://immunizebc.ca/.

For more information on supporting your child during vaccination visit HealthlinkBC 

 

There are some common side effects such as pain, and redness at the injection site. These will pass quickly.  The most commonly reported symptoms specific to infants 6 months to 36 months include:

  • irritability/crying
  • pain
  • sleepiness
  • loss of appetite
Serious side effects are very rare, but if you notice any health or behaviour changes contact 811 or your healthcare provider.

Rare cases of inflammation of the heart (myocarditis and pericarditis) have been reported after getting the COVID19 mRNA vaccines. This is more common in males 12-29 years, and seen only very rarely in children 5-11 yrs of age (2.7 cases per million doses). 


Most cases were mild and were treated with rest and their symptoms improved quickly. Rates of this type of inflammation following COVID-19 mRNA vaccination are unknown in children less than 5 years at this time, but expected to be very rare and even lower than in the over 5 year age group. 

 The risk of myocarditis is much greater in young children  who get a COVID-19 infection than the risk following the vaccination.

Symptoms to look out for:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling of a rapid or abnormal heart rhythm
If your child experiences these symptoms seek medical attention right away. Inform the health care provider that your child received a COVID-19 vaccine recently.


 
 

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. While the majority of children who get COVID-19 have a minor illness, a small number of them can get very sick. Additionally, some children may continue to have health issues for long periods of time after the initial illness. Infected children are also able to pass on COVID-19 to other people in their families and communities.


You can find more information about BC COVID-19 cases in children through our data summaries on the BC COVID-19 Data page.

The vaccine is the same as the vaccine for adults and children 12-17, but children under 11 get a smaller dose. 


Younger children get a smaller dose because that is the dose that has been found to provide excellent protection in that age group. Smaller doses are frequent for many vaccines and medications.


The dose is not based on the size or weight of the child, but by age- a 12-year-old child who is small for their age is not eligible for the smaller dose. Some children may get different doses in their series depending on their age. 


For example, an 11-year-old with a birthday in early 2022 would get a child dose for their first vaccine and an adult dose for their second vaccine.


For younger children - You can explain that the vaccine can help make sure they don’t get sick from COVID-19. It helps their body to quickly fight off the virus that causes COVID-19. 


The vaccine is so powerful that when they get it they help to protect the people around them including their family and friends because if they don’t get sick they can’t pass it on.


For older children - Kids Boost Immunity has videos that explain how vaccines work. You can remind them that getting this vaccine will help protect them and let them keep other people safe.

There are simple breathing techniques that young children can learn that help them to keep calm. Have young children practice breathing exercises by asking them to breathe like they are blowing bubbles or blowing out candles. Anxiety Canada has more information on how to practice this.

A team from BC Children’s Hospital has developed a game that helps children practice belly breathing which is able to help children manage anxiety and their response to pain. 

If your child has a history of fainting at the sight of needles you can practice this tension technique to reduce the chance of this happening.


Yes. The COVID-19 vaccine can be given at the same time as other childhood vaccinations, including the flu vaccine.

 

All of these support techniques apply to other childhood vaccinations. If you are not sure if your child is up-to-date with their vaccines check children's immunizations schedules and arrange with your healthcare provider to have any vaccinations that may have been missed to be given as soon as possible.

Talking about misinformation will be different for each child, depending on their age and maturity. 

Here are 3 Es that can help guide a conversation:

Explore - “I’m wondering where you learned that. Tell me more.”

Educate - “Even if your friend or someone famous said it, that doesn’t mean it’s true.”

Engage - “I’d love to see where that came from…let’s look together.”


Visit ImmunizeBC 

Translated Content

American Sign Language
Ages 5 to 11

Any child between five and 11 years old can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccines are free and your children do not need BC Care Cards to receive them.

  • Parents can register their child in the Get Vaccinated system to be notified of when your child can get vaccinated.

What parents need to know

Millions of children ages 5 to 11 have been vaccinated and there is a lot known about vaccine safety and effectiveness.

The handout below can help parents make the best decision for their family and learn about the benefits and risks of vaccination.

COVID19_Children_Brochure_Eng.PNG


View the handout in English.






Translations available in: ASL | Arabic | Simplified Chinese | Traditional Chinese | Farsi | French | Hindi | Japanese | Korean | Punjabi | Spanish | Tagalog | Tigrinya | Vietnamese

Social media resources 

For the latest data on COVID-19 in children, visit our COVID-19 Data page.

To learn more about how the vaccines are developed and approved, visit our Vaccines Approval and Development page.

Preparing your child for vaccine appointment

Inform your child

  • In general, children should be informed about the vaccine close to the actual day of the vaccine. For school-age children, one day before may be appropriate.

  • It’s important that they understand what will happen at the appointment and feel comfortable. 

  • You may use Jesse the bear’s vaccine story and the superhero colouring pages below.

Answer questions

  • You should encourage your child to ask any questions they may have about the vaccine. 

  • It may be several years since they last had a vaccine and they may not remember it. If you have already had your COVID-19 vaccine you can share your own experience with them. Be honest.

  • They may feel a pinch or poke with the needle, but it will be very quick.

  • Their arm may feel heavy or sore for a few hours, but the feeling will go away.

Prepare for nerves

To help your child find their preferred way to prepare for the vaccine, you can use the CARD system - Comfort, Ask, Relax, Distract.CARDSystem.PNG

HealthLinkBC has more information on preparing your child for the vaccine.


Do not focus your child’s attention on the needle with comments like “It’ll be over soon, and you’ll be okay.” Research shows that reassurance and apologies offered before the immunization are associated with increased stress in the child. 


Instead, use other strategies such as distraction with puzzles or talking, and breathing techniques.


Healthcare providers at immunization clinics are trained to work with children and can help you work with your child to support them.


 

There are some common side effects such as pain, and redness at the injection site. These will pass quickly.  Headache, muscle aches and fever or chills are quite a bit less common compared to adolescents who received the adult vaccine. Serious side effects are very rare, but if you notice any health or behaviour changes contact 811 or your healthcare provider.


One very rare side effect that has been seen mostly in males under 40 is myocarditis or inflammation of the heart muscle. Most cases were mild and were treated with rest and their symptoms improved quickly. The risk of myocarditis in children who get COVID-19 is greater than the risk following the vaccination.


Symptoms to look out for:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling of a rapid or abnormal heart rhythm


If your child experiences these symptoms seek medical attention right away. Inform the health care provider that your child received a COVID-19 vaccine recently.


COVID-19 vaccination has no impact on future fertility. There is no biological way for this to occur.




 

Who can provide consent for children to be vaccinated?
  1. Parents/Guardians (including foster parents and prospective adoptive parents): Unless their decision-making rights have been legally revoked or the child has consented as a mature minor.
  2. Other custodial caregivers: For example, a relative who is raising the child. You do not need to bring proof of authority.
Only one parent or legal guardian is required to give consent.
 
The process for collecting consent may be different depending on the immunization clinic you attend.

Colouring pages: COVID-19 vaccine superhero
Jesse is going to get a COVID-19 vaccine and is a little nervous. Jesse brought a favourite toy and used belly breathing to feel calm. There was a tiny pinch on the arm and it was over. “That was easy!” Jesse is now a COVID-19 vaccine superhero!


Having questions about vaccination is normal. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines to help decide if vaccination is the right choice for you or your family. You can also call 8-1-1 or talk to a health care provider if you have questions.


Ages 12 to 17

Children aged 12-17 will be offered an mRNA vaccine, either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna. Health Canada has approved these vaccines for people aged 12 and older. Millions of doses of vaccine have been given to young people worldwide. The vaccines are safe and effective at preventing severe illness for this age group.

People 12 years and older will receive an invite to book a booster dose appointment about 6 months after their second dose. B.C. is also planning a fall booster dose program for people 12 years and older.

Learn more about booster doses for young people ages 12 to 17.

Vaccine safety for youth

Millions of youth aged 12-17 have safely received the vaccine in Canada . Vaccinated youth are much less likely to get sick from COVID-19 or be hospitalized.

Here are five things you need to know about the vaccines:

  1. Vaccines greatly reduce the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19
  2. Each vaccine goes through a rigorous testing and approval process
  3. The ingredients have been researched for over two decades
  4. Vaccines teach your body how to launch its own immune response
  5. Side effects are completely normal after receiving a vaccine.

Learn more about Vaccine Safety for Youth.

Mature minor consent

Parents or guardians and their children are encouraged to review and discuss vaccines and make a decision about immunization together.

Children under the age of 19 who are able to understand the benefits and possible reactions for the vaccine, and the risk of not getting immunized, can legally consent to or refuse immunizations on their own.

MatureMinorConsent.PNG

Learn more about mature minor consent. This document is also available in multiple languages on our Translated Content page.

In rare cases, people have experienced inflammation of the heart following immunization with a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine. Two conditions, called myocarditis and pericarditis, have occurred more often in younger adult and adolescent males and after the second dose.


These events have been reported in B.C. at a rate of 1.5 per 100,000 doses of mRNA vaccine administered, and are seen more often after the second dose, and in males under 40 years of age. Most cases will have symptoms within a few days of vaccine receipt.


Typically, this condition has been mild to moderate. People have recovered with or without treatment.

The exact cause of these events is not known but is thought to be related to the immune response to the spike protein which is also important in immunity against COVID-19 virus.


For more information, visit the Vaccine Safety page.


COVID-19 vaccines can be safely given at the same time or any time before or after any other live or inactivated vaccine. This includes the influenza vaccine.


If you are getting a COVID-19 vaccine you do not need to delay getting an influenza vaccine. 


 It's especially important to protect yourself against respiratory viruses during cold and flu season. If you get any two vaccines at the same time or close together, care providers will usually administer the vaccines in different arms/ limbs.

 

Youth are expected to experience similar side effects as adults, though may experience some of them more often, like headaches, chills and fever. The Vaccination Aftercare handout provides more information about common side effects and how to manage them.


Having questions about vaccination is normal. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines to help decide if vaccination is the right choice for you or your family. You can also call 8-1-1 or talk to a health care provider if you have questions.


Tab Heading
SOURCE: Children and COVID-19 Vaccination ( )
Page printed: . Unofficial document if printed. Please refer to SOURCE for latest information.

Copyright © BC Centre for Disease Control. All Rights Reserved.

    Copyright © 2022 Provincial Health Services Authority.