COVID-19 vaccines for youth

Everything you need to know about covid 19 vaccines for youth ages 12 to 17, including vaccine safety and efficacy, when they can get vaccinated, and what to expect at the appointment.

Last updated: July 20, 2021

Why you should get vaccinated

Vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to stay protected from covid 19. They are an important tool to help to stop the spread of the virus and allow students and families to safely resume normal activities.

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.

Health Canada has approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for youth ages 12 to 17. This means that they have determined that this vaccine:

  • is safe, effective and manufactured to the highest quality
  • prepares your immune system to fight against covid 19
  • shows a strong antibody response for this age group

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is expected to be up to 95% effective after two doses. In clinical trials the vaccine showed robust antibody response in youth ages 12 to 17.

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

Booking an appointment

Youth can get the vaccine at:

  • mass immunization clinics
  • participating pharmacies offering the Pfizer vaccine
  • pop-up and walk-in clinics, promoted locally within target communities and local public health units

Youth have to be 12 years of age by the date of their appointment.

If your child is 11 but will be 12 when clinics are running, call the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900 or call your public health unit directly if they use their own booking system in order to make an appointment when your child is eligible.

First dose

All youth age 12 to 17 are eligible for their first dose.

Second dose

Starting July 5 at 8:00 a.m., all youth aged 12 to 17 can book an accelerated second dose appointment through the provincial booking system, directly through public health units that use their own booking system, and through participating pharmacies.

If a youth does not have an Ontario health card

Youth (and their families) can still get the vaccine without an Ontario health card. You need to:

  • speak to your school, medical provider or faith leader about providing a letter confirming the youth’s:
    • name
    • date of birth
    • address
  • contact your local public health unit to get a unique COVID ID (this is a number that you can use to book your appointment)
  • call the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900 to book an 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 new covid 19 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

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.

You must wait at least 28 days after you receive the covid 19 to get any other vaccines, unless your doctor or health care provider thinks it's necessary to get one sooner.

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 youth ages 12 to 17, 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 age 12 to 17, 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 (for example, for medical reasons), they will need consent from someone who can make a decision on their behalf, such as a parent or legal guardian.

Download the consent form (PDF)

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

If you think you or your child might be having a severe allergic reaction after leaving the vaccination site, call 911.

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

Until more people have been fully vaccinated, you should continue to follow public health measures to stop the spread of covid 19 and stay safe, even once you are fully vaccinated. This includes:

  • maintaining a physical distance of two metres from people outside of your household
  • wearing a mask
  • practicing proper hand hygiene
  • limiting non-essential travel

Community resources

Fact sheets in other languages (PDFs)