COVID-19 vaccines for children and youth

Everything you need to know about covid 19 vaccines for children and youth, including vaccine safety and efficacy, when they can get vaccinated, and what to expect at the appointment.

Last updated: November 24, 2021

Still waiting for your second dose?

You can book your second dose today. If you already have a second dose appointment booked, you may be able to move it sooner.

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Why you should get vaccinated

Vaccines are safe, effective, and the best way to stay protected from covid 19 and the highly contagious Delta variant. They are an important tool to help to stop the spread of the virus and further support a safer school environment.

covid 19 vaccines do not cause a coronavirus infection. They help build up immunity to the virus, so that your body will fight it off more easily. This can reduce the risk of developing covid 19 or make the symptoms milder if you do get it, as well as lower the risk of transmitting the virus to others.

Health Canada has approved the use of a paediatric Pfizer vaccine for children aged five to 11, in addition to the previously approved Pfizer vaccine used for individuals aged 12 and older.

In Ontario, children turning five in 2021 can also be vaccinated. Health Canada has determined that these vaccines:

  • are safe, effective, and manufactured to the highest quality
  • show a strong immune response and prepare your immune system to fight against covid 19

In clinical trials, the vaccines showed robust immune response in children and youth.

covid 19 vaccination is voluntary for anyone eligible in Ontario. Learn more about:

Booking an appointment

Children and youth can get their vaccine:

  • by booking through the COVID-19 vaccination portal
  • by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY for people who are deaf, hearing-impaired, or speech-impaired: 1-866-797-0007)
  • directly through public health units that use their own booking systems
  • through Indigenous-led vaccination clinics
  • at participating pharmacies
  • through select primary care providers
  • at walk-in vaccination clinics
  • select clinics at or near schools offered locally by public health units

If a child or youth does not have an Ontario health card

If your child does not have a health card, they can use another form of government-issued identification such as a passport or birth certificate. If they don’t have one of these, you need to complete the following two steps:

  1. Speak to your school, medical provider, or faith leader about providing a letter confirming the child or youth’s:
    • name
    • date of birth
    • address
  2. Then, contact your local public health unit to verify your child’s identity and get a unique COVID ID (this is a unique number that you can use to book your appointment):
    • If your public health unit is using its own booking system, they can help book an appointment for you.
    • If your public health unit is using the provincial booking system, you must call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900 to book it yourself (TTY for people who are deaf, hearing-impaired, or speech-impaired: 1-866-797-0007).

If you’ve already had covid 19

If you or your child had covid 19, you should still get the vaccine. It will help protect you from getting sick again and from the more contagious Delta variants.

If you are recovering from covid 19, you should wait to get the vaccine until you:

  • have no symptoms
  • are no longer in self-isolation

If your child is not up-to-date on other vaccines

Children and youth who are not up-to-date on other vaccines can still receive a covid 19 vaccine.

If you or your child are behind on immunizations, we encourage you to contact your health care provider to get up-to-date.

Children between five and 11 years of age may be recommended to wait 14 days before or after the administration of another vaccine before getting their covid 19 vaccine. Speak with your health care provider if you have questions.

Learn more about vaccines for children.

Getting the vaccine

What to bring to your appointment

For your appointment, you should bring:

  • your booking confirmation code or email
  • your Ontario health card, if you have one
  • a letter from your school, medical provider or faith leader, if you don’t have an Ontario health card
  • your immunization record, if available, to keep track of your covid 19 vaccine
  • an allergy form, if you have a suspected allergy to the Pfizer vaccine or any of its ingredients or have had a previous allergic reaction to a vaccine
  • a mask
  • a support person, if needed (for example, an interpreter or someone to help you during the vaccination)

Anyone getting the covid 19 vaccine, including children and youth, must provide informed consent. Informed consent means that you understand:

  • what the vaccine involves (for example, how it is given and what possible side effects there may be)
  • why it is recommended
  • the risks and benefits of getting or not getting it

If you are a child or youth interested in getting the covid 19 vaccine, you may want to talk to a parent, guardian or adult that you trust before getting the vaccine.

If an individual is unable to provide informed consent to receive the vaccine, they will need consent from someone who can make a decision on their behalf, such as a parent or legal guardian. Speak with your vaccine provider if you have any questions.

Parents or substitute decision makers of children aged 5 to 11 will, for the most part, have to provide consent on behalf of the child at the time of the appointment before their children can receive a vaccine.

After vaccination

Possible side effects

Like any medication, vaccines can cause mild side effects and reactions that can last a few hours or a couple of days after vaccination.

Common side effects may include:

  • redness, soreness or swelling on the arm where you got the needle
  • tiredness
  • headache
  • muscle and joint pain
  • chills
  • mild fever

Serious allergic reactions to the covid 19 vaccine are very rare and can be treated. To be safe, everyone who gets vaccinated is monitored for at least 15 minutes in case an allergic reaction occurs.

If you think you or your child might be having a severe allergic reaction after leaving the vaccination site, call 911. Signs of an allergic reaction could include having trouble breathing, developing hives or swelling in the face and throat.

Building immunity

It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination.

This means that it is possible to become infected with the virus that causes covid 19 just before or just after vaccination because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.

Keep following public health measures

Even once you are fully vaccinated, you should continue to follow public health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 and stay safe. This includes:

  • Stay at home if you have symptoms, even if they are mild
  • Wear a mask where it is required (indoor public spaces; for example, inside stores, event spaces and entertainment facilities)
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly
  • Cover your cough
  • Follow guidance on how to celebrate holidays and festive events safely
  • Get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or if you have been identified as a high-risk close contact of a covid 19 case by public health

Still have questions about covid 19 vaccines for children and youth?

It’s okay to still have questions about the vaccine. If you do, the following resources are available to help answer them:

  • You can contact the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre to speak to an experienced agent or health specialist at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY for people who are deaf, hearing-impaired or speech-impaired: 1-866-797-0007), available in more than 300 languages, seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • You can contact the SickKids COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service to book a confidential phone appointment with a SickKids paediatric Registered Nurse through www.sickkids.ca/vaccineconsult, or call 1-888-304-6558.
  • You can download our fact sheet, The safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines for youth (PDF), to learn more about covid 19 vaccines for children and youth.

Community resources

Fact sheets in other languages (PDFs)