COVID-19 Vaccination in Children and Youth

The town hall for parents and guardians of kids five to 11 is now available to watch online.

Health Canada has authorized the use of COVID-19 vaccine in children five to 11 years old. Appointments are now available for five to 11 year olds at Public Health clinics. Book an appointment. Public Health COVID-19 vaccine clinics also accept walk-ins for children five to 11 years of age.

Read the frequently asked questions below for more information on COVID-19 vaccination in children and youth.

Why it's important to get vaccinated.

In Niagara, we've had many COVID-19 cases in children and youth. However, it's largely the younger age groups that have recently been getting sick. This has impacted dozens of local daycares, early childhood education centres, elementary and secondary schools, and families.

We know the vaccine has been effective in protecting adolescents and young adults from COVID-19. This has been shown in the clinical trials of the vaccine, and through administering the vaccine in the general population. Check out some of the research from the Center for Disease Control and Public Health Ontario. Similarly, for five to 11 year olds, the clinical trials showed the vaccines provide a robust immune response.

Children and youth getting vaccinated will help reduce their risk of developing COVID-19, or make the symptoms milder if they do get it. Vaccination also helps lower the risk of transmitting the virus to others. This will help protect all family members, as well as all members within a school community, from COVID-19.

It's really important to make sure you understand as much as you can about COVID-19 infection in children so you can make an informed choice about vaccinating them. If you choose to wait, you need to know that without the vaccine, your child may be at risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

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Frequently asked questions

Risks of COVID-19 infection in children

General information

  • What vaccine is available for children five to 11 years of age?

    The Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is the first COVID-19 vaccine authorized in Canada for use in children five to 11 years of age. This vaccine is designed specifically for the paediatric population. It is a lower dose (one-third the amount) compared to the adolescent/adult Pfizer vaccine for those 12 years of age and older.

  • My child will be 11 years of age at their first dose appointment, but will be 12 years of age by the time of their second dose. Which vaccine will they get?

    The paediatric version of the vaccine will always be used for children five to 11 years of age at the time of vaccination. If a child is 12 years of age by the time of their second dose, their second dose will be the adolescent / adult version of the vaccine.

    Dosing is based on how an individual's immune system responds to the vaccine. For example, a small five year old and a large five year old have immune systems that respond to the vaccine in a similar way. The clinical trials show immune systems of children aged five to 11 respond similarly to the COVID-19 vaccine.

    It is both safe and effective for children to receive the paediatric version of the vaccine for their first dose and the adult/adolescent version for their second dose.

    Parents/guardians of children turning 12 soon should not delay getting their child vaccinated. Both the paediatric and adult/adolescent versions of the vaccine are safe and effective. Getting your child vaccinated as soon as they are eligible gives them the best protection against COVID-19.

  • Will I have to book my second dose appointment for my five to 11 year old child?

    Individuals who use the COVID-19 vaccination portal can book their child's second dose appointment after they have received their first dose, at an interval of eight weeks. Individuals whose child receives their vaccine at a pharmacy should discuss with the pharmacy location about how they are booking second doses. Primary care providers will work with parents and caregivers whose children they vaccinate with a paediatric COVID-19 vaccine to book a second dose appointment. Clinics are added to the booking portal two weeks in advance.

  • How does the COVID-19 vaccine fit in with scheduling other vaccines?

    Children five to 11 years of age should receive the COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before or after another vaccine. This is a precaution to help to determine if a side effect that may arise is due to the COVID-19 vaccine or another vaccine. However, there may be circumstances when a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and another vaccine need to be given at the same time. This would be determined by your health care provider.

    For those 12 years of age and older, the COVID-19 vaccines may be given at the same time as, or any time before or after, other vaccines.

  • What is the current information on COVID-19 vaccination in children under five years of age?

    Clinical trials are underway for infants and children under five years of age.

  • If children under five can't get vaccinated for COVID-19, how can we protect them?

    Vaccines add an extra layer of protection. It's important that all family members who are able to get vaccinated get their vaccine. This is one way to help protect children that are too young to get vaccinated.

    While being fully vaccinated will make it far less likely that you will get COVID-19 and pass it on to your children, breakthrough infections can happen.

    For now, it's very important that we continue to follow public health measures to keep each other safe.

Vaccine safety

Consent

  • How can a parent or legal guardian give consent for their child?

    Consent for vaccination for children five to 11 years of age needs to be provided by a parent or legal guardian.

    It's preferred that children get their vaccine with a parent or legal guardian present at the clinic.

    If necessary, children can go with an alternative caregiver to get vaccinated. A parent or legal guardian must be available by phone to provide verbal consent and review health history.

    When COVID-19 vaccination clinics are being held at schools, they will take place outside of school hours. This is to ensure that parents or legal guardians can be with their children to provide consent.

    For those 12 and older, COVID-19 vaccines are only provided if informed consent is received from the person to be vaccinated and as long as they have the capacity to make this decision. This means that they understand:

    • What vaccination involves
    • Why it's being recommended
    • The risks and benefits of accepting or refusing to be vaccinated

    COVID-19 vaccination is voluntary for anyone eligible in Ontario. In Ontario, the Health Care Consent Act sets out certain rules on when consent is needed for treatment and how it must be obtained. Parents and guardians are encouraged to discuss vaccination with their child before attending a clinic.

    Even if an individual is able to provide informed consent, we encourage them to talk about their decision with their parent / guardian or health care provider.

    The health care provider and family must respect an individual's decision about vaccination.

    If the individual is incapable of consenting to receiving the vaccine, they would need consent from their substitute decision-maker, such as their parent or legal guardian

  • Is there anything I can read in advance so I can be ready to provide consent at the clinic?

    We encourage you to check out the Ministry of Health documents on the Before and After your COVID-19 Vaccine page.

The CARD system

Preparing your child for their vaccine

What to expect at the clinic

  • What will the clinic feel like?

    We strive to make our clinics calm and positive for children and their families by:

    • Offering booked appointments to avoid waiting
    • Allowing more time for each child in order to talk through any questions and get comfortable
    • Additional space so parents and siblings can be together
    • Putting children and youth who may be anxious or nervous at ease by asking them what makes them comfortable and helps them relax
    • Using distractions to keep children busy while they are getting vaccinated, like small, colourful toys or tablets to watch videos
    • While they wait 15 minutes after getting vaccinated, children can get their picture taken in a "I stuck it to COVID" selfie frame, read a book or colour a picture that they'll be given
    • When they leave, children will be offered a piece of peanut-free candy
  • What if someone feels faint at the clinic?

    Faints or near faints can be common among youth immediately after getting a vaccine. Reducing your anxiety can help prevent this.

    You will remain in our recovery area for a minimum of 15 minutes after your vaccine. If you feel faint, it's important not to stand up. Alert our clinic staff to help you.

  • Will children and youth receive proof that they are vaccinated?

    Yes. Vaccine certificates with QR codes will be available for children and youth on the COVID-19 vaccination portal as a record of their vaccination.

    At this time, there are no requirements for children aged five to 11 to show proof of vaccination in Ontario. There may be different requirements in other jurisdictions. Learn more about proof of vaccination for youth 12 years of age and older.

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