Ages 12 to 17
Children aged 12-17 will be offered two doses of 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 and the vaccines are safe and effective at preventing severe illness for this age group.
Children aged 12-17 are also eligible for a booster dose at least 6 months after their initial series.
It is extra important to get a booster dose if you have a weakened immune system because of a medical condition or treatment. Learn more about booster doses for young people ages 12 to 17.
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.
Here are five things you need to know about the vaccines:
- Vaccines greatly reduce the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19
- Each vaccine goes through a rigorous testing and approval process
- The ingredients have been researched for over two decades
- Vaccines teach your body how to launch its own immune response
- Side effects are completely normal after receiving a vaccine.
Learn more about Vaccine Safety for Youth.
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.
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.
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, 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.