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Children and COVID-19 Vaccination

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

Last updated: April 9, 2024

Information available in: ASL

COVID-19 vaccines are authorized by Health Canada for children. A spring COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for children who have never been vaccinated and recommended for children who are at higher risk of getting seriously sick from COVID-19 .

Your child can get the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other childhood vaccines. Staying up to date on your child’s immunizations helps protect them from severe illness.
Register your child for vaccine appointments

On this page
Vaccines are free and your child does not need a BC Care Card to get vaccinated.

To get COVID-19 and influenza vaccines, make sure your child is registered with the Get Vaccinated system. Once registered, you will receive an invitation to book an appointment.

  •, available in 12 different languages
  • By phone: Call 1-833-838-2323 (toll-free), available in 140 different languages.
  • In-person: At all Service BC offices. You will need to have a Personal Health Number. Find a Service BC office.
If your child does not have a Personal Health Number, you need to register by phone by calling 1-833-838-2323. A Personal Health Number will be created for you. 

Vaccine doses

Getting a spring vaccine is recommended for children and youth at increased risk of COVID-19 infection or severe disease, including: 

  • Anyone 6 months of age and older who has not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine that protects against the XBB.1.5 variant
  • Children and youth with underlying medical conditions that place them at higher risk of severe COVID-19. This includes children and youth who are moderately to severely immunosuppressed. 
Some children need additional doses depending on their age, medical conditions, vaccination history and the vaccine available.

Preparing your child for their vaccine appointment

Inform your child
In general, children should be informed about the vaccine close to the actual day of the vaccine. Toddlers and pre-school age children should be informed about the vaccine only shortly before the clinic visit or appointment. For school-age children, one day before may be appropriate. You may use Jesse the bear’s vaccine story and the superhero colouring pages below.

Answer questions
It is important that they understand what will happen at the appointment and feel comfortable. 
  • 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.
To help your child find their preferred way to prepare for the vaccine, you can use the CARD system - Comfort, Ask, Relax, Distract.

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.

ImmunizeBC has resources and strategies: Have a positive vaccine experience

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.


  • You can breastfeed/chestfeed your baby before, during, and after the immunization. Research shows that this is safe and comforts and distracts your baby. Your milk also contains natural calming substances.
  • For 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 BCDo 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 support your child.

For more information

There are some common side effects such as pain, and redness at the injection site. These will pass quickly.  

Your child might have some side effects after vaccines such as headache, muscle aches, fever or chills, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, and swollen lymph nodes under the armpit.

The most commonly reported symptoms specific to infants 6 months to 36 months include:
  • irritability/crying
  • pain
  • sleepiness
  • loss of appetite
Serious side effects 
Serious side effects are very rare, but if you notice any concerning 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 COVID-19 mRNA vaccines. These were most often seen:
  • after a second dose of the vaccine when the time between doses was less than 8 weeks
  • in males 12-29 years of age
  • with a higher dose of the Moderna vaccine
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 feeling of fast beating, fluttering, or pounding heart.
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.


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
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.

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.


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

Colouring pages and parent resources

Use Jesse the bear’s vaccine story and the superhero colouring pages to talk to your child about their vaccination appointment.

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!

Frequently asked questions

Yes. While the majority of children who get COVID-19 have a mild 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. Children with COVID-19 are also able to pass it on to other people in their families and communities.

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

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.

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.

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


To check if your child is up-to-date with their vaccines, refer to ImmunizeBC's children's immunizations schedules. Arrange with your healthcare provider to have any vaccinations that may have been missed 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.”

Translated content

American Sign Language

SOURCE: Children and COVID-19 Vaccination ( )
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