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Children and COVID-19 Vaccination

Information on COVID-19 vaccination for children and young people ages 5 to 17.

COVID-19 vaccination is now authorized by Health Canada for children five and older. Getting young people vaccinated helps protect them and the people around them. Everyone eligible should get all recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Even though severe illnesses from COVID-19 in children are not common, they can occur.  Vaccinating children helps keep them safe, and helps them keep people in their family and community – especially older adults, younger children and infants, and those with illnesses - safe as well.

 

Like other diseases for which we have vaccines, such as measles, mumps and rubella, when everyone who can get vaccinated does, then the people who cannot get vaccinated are indirectly protected. Vaccinating your child with all recommended vaccines is very important. HealthLink BC provides further information about the importance of childhood vaccination.


Read what BC Children’s Hospital pediatricians have to say about vaccination.


Learn more about the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination in children from ImmunizeBC.

Ages 5 to 11

Any child between five and 11 years old can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccines will be available soon. If your child is four years old, you will only be able to get them vaccinated after their fifth birthday. 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.
Preparing your child for vaccine appointment

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.

You should encourage your child to ask any questions they may have about the vaccine. It’s important that they understand what will happen at the appointment and feel comfortable.

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.

You can also use the CARD system - Comfort, Ask, Relax, Distract to help your child find their preferred way to prepare for the vaccine.

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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. 

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!


Read or print Jesse's story in colour



Colour in your own COVID-19 vaccine hero badge like Jesse's




Steps for vaccine approval

As with any other vaccine, COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5-11 have to go through a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence before being approved in Canada. This ensures all approved vaccines are safe and effective.

Data from clinical trials and studies in children should show that:

  • The vaccine is safe.
  • The vaccine works.
    • It produces a strong immune response.
    • It prevents severe outcomes.
Over two decades of research and scientific expertise have gone into the COVID-19 vaccines before any clinical trial was initiated.

Health Canada approves the vaccine for use in Canada if:

  • Data shows the benefits outweigh any risks
  • It is safe and effective
  • The product is high quality
  • The manufacturing facilities meet standards
 

NACI is an independent group of experts that provide guidance on the use of approved vaccines. They consider:

  • Safety and efficacy data from clinical trials and real-world use

  • The impact of COVID-19 in children

  • The benefits of immunization in children

  • Ethical issues (e.g. equity, feasibility, acceptability)

 

Governments and health authorities consider:

  • Health Canada approval
  • NACI recommendations
  • Vaccine supply and logistics
  • Local COVID-19 disease patterns and cases
 

Large amounts of evidence on safety and efficacy continue to be reviewed and tracked as children in B.C., Canada, and the rest of the world get vaccinated.

 
This evidence ensures that decision-making is informed by data.

 

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.

Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccination for five to 11 years old

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Open this document with FAQs and information about COVID-19 vaccination for 5 to 11-year-olds.

Yes. Currently, the Delta variant is the most common COVID-19 variant in BC. The Delta variant is passed from person to person more easily than previous variants. We also know that it infects children more than other variants that we’ve seen in the province.


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.

Currently, only the Pfizer vaccine is available for use in children aged 5-11. This is the same as the Pfizer vaccine adults and older children get but in 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.

Visit ImmunizeBC 

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. Clinical trials showed these vaccines are safe and effective for this age group.

Vaccine safety for youth

Over two million youth in Canada and over 250,000 youth in B.C. aged 12-17 have already received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccinated youth are much less likely to get sick from COVID-19 or be hospitalized.

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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.

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

Vaccine considerations for children are similar to adults. The vaccine can be given to children who take medications regularly, including youth with conditions that make them clinically extremely vulnerable.

 

Most people with a history of allergies are still able to receive the COVID-19 vaccines. Youth who have a history of a severe allergy (anaphylaxis) to any of the vaccine ingredients should consult with an allergist. Vaccination should be delayed for 90 days following MIS-C (the rare multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children).


 

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.


Pfizer-BioNTech's Comirnaty and Moderna's SpikeVax COVID-19 vaccines are available to young people age 12 and older in B.C.

 

The vaccines have been approved by Health Canada and recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

 

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccination information for young people aged 12 to 17.


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.


Symptoms such as hives, swelling of the face, tongue or throat, or difficulty breathing are signs of a severe allergic reaction and you should seek medical attention or call 9-1-1 right away. Severe allergic reactions are rare and respond well to treatment.


The rare but serious blood clotting events associated with the viral vector-based COVID-19 vaccines (including AstraZeneca, COVISHIELD and Janssen) do not occur with the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna).


Young people will need to continue to follow public health recommendations after they are vaccinated, like respecting personal space, wearing a mask, and cleaning their hands.

 

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.

 


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