COVID-19 vaccine for children
Details about vaccine safety for children 5 to 17 years old 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.
The Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech) and the Spikevax (Moderna) vaccines have been authorized for use in children. The Ministry of Health recommends that individuals between the ages of 5 and 29 receive the Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech) 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 between vaccines and age groups 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 more information on getting the vaccine for details about consent.
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.
Uncommon vaccine side effects
Current evidence shows some rare side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. 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. In Ontario, it’s recommended that individuals between the ages of 5 and 29 receive the Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccine.
If your child has previously been diagnosed with myocarditis, talk to your child’s doctor about them receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. You will need to get a letter from your child’s health care provider indicating that you have discussed the risks and benefits of getting vaccinated, and that vaccination is recommended. You or your child must show a copy of this letter before they get vaccinated.
Learn more about monitoring for vaccine side effects.
Walk-in or book an appointment
Children can get the COVID-19 vaccine at clinics, pharmacies, and doctor’s offices. Find location details and how to book an appointment.
To receive the vaccine your child must be born in 2016 or earlier and not have any COVID-like symptoms.
Children 5 to 11 years old must be at least 5 years old at the time of their appointment. Make sure they have not received another vaccine (such as a flu shot) less than 14 days before their COVID-19 vaccine.
Most children can safely get the vaccine unless they have allergies to specific components of the vaccine.
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.
Refer to more information about precautions for specific individuals.
In Ontario, the recommended time between the first and second dose of the vaccine is at least 8 weeks. Children 12 to 17 years of age can get a booster dose if it has been at least 6 months since the second dose. Refer to more information about vaccine doses and eligibility.
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.
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 able to be 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:
- Tips for parents with children ages 5 to 11
- What to expect when you get your vaccine (for children 12 years or older)
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.
Tour our clinics for children
We’ve created a kid-friendly experience at our Peel Public Health vaccine clinics.
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.
Refer to more information on what to expect before, during and after your appointment.
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:
COVID-19 vaccine information for children and youth
Information from the Ontario government, including why you should get the vaccine, how to book an appointment, and what to do after vaccination. The also includes community resources, and translated fact sheets.
AboutKidsHealth – COVID-19 Learning Hub
Information on COVID-19 vaccines including vaccine safety and effectiveness and coping with pain and fear around 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.