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COVID-19 vaccine for children

Details about vaccine safety for children 5 to 17 years old, where to get the vaccine, and information to help your child prepare.

Why it’s important for children to get vaccinated

Children usually experience milder COVID-19 symptoms compared to adults.

However, there is a small percentage of children that develop long-lasting effects (such as prolonged cough, fatigue) or severe symptoms requiring hospitalization.

In rare cases, children can develop multi-system inflammatory syndrome which can include complications such as cardiac abnormalities, kidney injury and neurological complications.

Children can spread the virus to others even if they don’t feel sick.

Webinar: COVID-19 vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old

Peel Public Health hosted a webinar for parents and the school community on the COVID-19 vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old. The webinar was held on December 7. The speakers covered topics including vaccine safety, consent and more.

If you missed the webinar, access the recording.

Other information

Most children can safely get the vaccine unless they have allergies to specific components of the vaccine.

The Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech) vaccine authorized for use in children 5 to 11 years old is different than the vaccine authorized for use in individuals 12 years or older. Differences include:

  • The vaccine authorized for use in children 5 to 11 years old contains polyethylene glycol (PEG) and tromethamine. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned that your children may be allergic to these components.
  • Children 5 to 11 years old will receive a smaller dose of the vaccine (10 mcg) compared to individuals 12 years or older (30 mcg).
  • Children 5 to 11 years old should not get other vaccines (such as a flu shot) sooner than 14 days before or after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. This helps to better understand any side effects that may occur.
  • A parent or legal guardian is required to consent. Refer to how to get the vaccine for details about consent.

Additional precautions may be required if your child, has a history of serious allergic reactions, symptoms of myocarditis or pericarditis after the first dose of the vaccine, or other conditions such as a bleeding disorder or autoimmune condition. If you have concerns, speak to your child's doctor.

Current evidence shows only rare side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. Like adults, children who are immunocompromised or have certain health conditions may especially benefit from vaccination as they are at increased risk of more severe symptoms or complications from COVID-19. There's no evidence to suggest the vaccine will affect future fertility.

In Canada, there have been rare reports among individuals 12 years or older, of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining around the heart) following vaccination.

Learn more about monitoring for vaccine side effects, including myocarditis and pericarditis.

Currently, there are no mandatory requirements for children to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to attend school in-person. However, if your child is exposed to COVID-19 in their school, and they are not fully vaccinated, they may be temporarily excluded from attending in-person learning.

To receive the vaccine your child must be born in 2016 or earlier and not have any COVID-like symptoms.

In Ontario, the recommended time between the first and second dose of the vaccine is at least 8 weeks.

Children 5 to 11 years old

Appointments can be booked through Ontario's vaccine booking system or by calling 1-833-943-3900 (TTY 1-866-797-0007). Vaccines are also being offered at select pop-up clinics, school vaccine clinics, pharmacies, and doctor's offices. Refer to get the vaccine for location details.

When getting the vaccine

Your child must be 5 years old at the time of their vaccine.

Make sure your child has not received another vaccine (such as a flu shot) less than 14 days before their COVID-19 vaccine.

Tour our clinics for children

We’ve created a kid-friendly experience at our Peel Public Health vaccine clinics.

Children born in 2010 or earlier

First and second doses are offered at different types of clinics, including Peel Public Health vaccine clinics, pop-up clinics, school vaccine clinics, pharmacies, doctor's offices, and walk-in clinics.

Access get the vaccine for booking and location details.

Providing consent for the COVID-19 vaccine

Peel Public Health requires informed consent for anyone receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, consistent with legal allowances in the Health Care Consent Act.

Children 12 years or older can give informed consent provided they understand the treatment, why it is being recommended, and the risks and benefits of accepting or refusing to be vaccinated. Find general information about the vaccine or refer to a resource about the COVID-19 vaccine for children.

Children 5 to 11 years old require consent from a parent or legal guardian. They should come to their appointment with a parent, legal guardian, or substitute decision maker. If a parent or legal guardian is not present at the appointment, or if the child will be accompanied by another individual (other relative or friend) , they will need to bring a signed consent form with them to their appointment.

Before getting the vaccine

Talk to your child about the vaccine and what to expect using clear and simple language. Let them know that the needle might feel like a pinch in the upper arm that only lasts a few seconds. If your child is nervous or anxious about getting a needle, the following videos offer helpful information:

You can also refer to the CARD method, to help them prepare.

See more credible resources to help you and your child get your questions answered.

On the day of the appointment

You will need to bring some form of government issued identification for your child. It must show your child’s full name and date of birth. If your child does not have an Ontario health card (OHIP) you can bring any of the following: a passport (Canadian or international), birth certificate, permanent resident card, refugee status documents, or an interim federal health program certificate.

Your child should wear a shirt with loose or short sleeves and wear a mask to their appointment.

At the appointment, staff can help your child if they are feeling scared by using different methods like distraction, deep breathing, relaxing their arm, and talking them through the experience.

After receiving the vaccine

Let your child know that they may have mild side effects from the vaccine such as some pain and swelling in the arm. AboutKidsHealth provides a full list of possible vaccine side effects.

Everyone must continue to protect themselves and others after receiving the vaccine by continuing to follow all recommended public health measures.

The following resources have been developed for children and their parents or legal guardians to review to help support making an informed decision about vaccination:

Pediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine frequently asked questions
Information from the Ontario government answering frequently asked questions about the vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

COVID-19 vaccine information sheet for children
Information from the Ontario government on the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

AboutKidsHealth – COVID-19 Learning Hub
Information on COVID-19 vaccines including vaccine safety and effectiveness and coping with pain and fear around vaccination.

COVID-19 vaccine information for youth (children 12 years or older)
Information from the Ontario government, including why you should vaccinate, how to book and get your vaccine and what to do after vaccination. The also includes community resources, and translated fact sheets.

Kids Health First
Information from the Children's COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Table answers to common questions about vaccination.

Parent’s guide to blood draw for children with Autism
A helpful guide from Autism Speaks for parents to prepare their child for their clinic appointment. While this guide is about getting blood taken, the information can apply to getting a vaccine.

COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service from SickKids
This by-appointment phone service that offers a safe, judgement-free space to have a conversation about the COVID-19 vaccine for children. It's available in multiple languages, using over-the-phone language interpretation.

Parents, caregivers, legal guardians, and children 12 years or over can book an appointment to talk to a paediatric Registered Nurse if they:

  • Have specific questions or concerns related to the COVID-19 vaccine for children that you cannot find the answer to elsewhere.
  • Have complex medical histories or medical conditions (chronic illness).
  • Require additional support for their COVID-19 vaccine due to medical complexity, developmental disorder or mobility, communication, behavioural or other specialized needs, including significant needle phobia.