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: January 13, 2022

All children aged five to 11 are now eligible to receive the paediatric covid 19 vaccine. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends an interval of eight weeks between first and second dose to provide the strongest possible protection against covid 19.

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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 variants. 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.

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

Children aged five to 11 do not require an Ontario health card to book their vaccination appointment through the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre (PVCC) at 1-833-943-3900  (TTY for people who are deaf, hearing-impaired, or speech-impaired: 1-866-797-0007). Identification can be shown at their appointment. 

  • Identification that can be used includes:
    • birth certificate
    • passport
    • piece of registered mail
    • student card
    • library card
    • club or organization ID cards
    • government issued identification from other jurisdictions including: foreign passports, or other provincial or territorial health cards
    • a letter from your school, medical provider or faith leader including name, date of birth and address
  • You may bring more than one identity document to support your identity.

If your public health unit is using its own booking system, you can contact them directly. You will be asked for another form of identification document (ID) or combination of IDs. Once the public health unit has confirmed your identity, they will help book your appointment.

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 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

Children aged five to 11 will receive the paediatric Pfizer covid 19 vaccine, and youth aged 12 to 17 will receive the Pfizer covid 19 vaccine.

To provide the strongest possible protection, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends waiting eight weeks between the first and second dose. This is based on evidence in adults that suggest longer intervals between doses results in a stronger immune response and higher vaccine effectiveness that is expected to last longer. This interval may be associated with a lower risk of myocarditis and/or pericarditis.

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:

  • staying at home if you have symptoms, even if they are mild
  • wearing a mask where it is required (indoor public spaces; for example, inside stores, event spaces and entertainment facilities). You may also consider wearing a medical mask if you are immunocompromised or are at higher risk of severe disease.
  • washing your hands thoroughly and regularly
  • covering your cough
  • following guidance on how to celebrate holidays and festive events safely
  • opening windows for air flow, if possible when gathering inside
  • getting 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 Registered Nurse through, or call 1-888-304-6558. Learn more from SickKids about covid 19 vaccines for children and youth.
  • You can download our fact sheet, The safety and efficacy of covid 19 vaccines for youth (PDFs), to learn more about covid 19 vaccines for children and youth.

Community resources

Fact sheets in other languages (PDFs)