COVID-19 vaccine information for children ages 5 to 11

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Looking for information specific to children ages 6 mos to 4 yrs? Visit our COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 6 mos to 4 yrs page

Looking for information specific to youth ages 12 to 17? Visit our COVID-19 vaccines for youth ages 12 to 17 page

Looking for general information on COVID-19 vaccines? Visit our COVID-19 vaccines page

Key points 
  • COVID-19 vaccines are safe and provide good protection against severe illness and hospitalization due to COVID-19. 

  • The Pfizer vaccine is approved for use in children 5 to 11 years of age, and the Moderna vaccine is approved for children 6 to 11 years of age.

  • These vaccines are specially made for children and are a smaller dose.

  • Side effects of COVID-19 vaccines are usually mild. Serious side effects are very rare. 

  • It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get COVID-19.

  • The Pfizer vaccine is the preferred vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. This is because more data is available from the real-world use of this vaccine. 

  • You can register your child to get vaccinated with the Get Vaccinated system.


Why should my child get vaccinated? 

Vaccination helps keep children safe and is the best way to protect children from severe illness and hospitalization due to COVID-19.  
While most children who get COVID-19 have a minor illness, some children (including previously healthy children) can get very sick. The chance of getting very sick is higher for children who are not fully vaccinated or have certain medical conditions. 
Children who get COVID-19:
  • Can get a severe lung infection and heart issues like myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle).
  • Are at risk of developing a serious but rare condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). MIS-C is caused by an exaggerated immune response, leading to severe widespread inflammation. It can happen several weeks after infection and usually requires hospitalization. Most children in Canada who have had this condition have fully recovered with treatment.
  • May feel sick for weeks or months after the initial illness. This is called Post-COVID-19 condition or "long COVID". 

Vaccinating children can also help protect others, including family members and those most at risk. Vaccination can also make it less likely that children will miss out on important activities, like school, sports, and social events.


Making the vaccine decision 

As millions of children ages 5 to 11 get vaccinated, there is a lot more known about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in this age group.
As a parent or guardian, you want what's best for your child. The handout below from BC Children's Hospital and the BCCDC can help you make the best decision for your family. If you would like more information or have questions, speak with your health care provider. 
Image of brochure
View the handout in English.
This handout is also available in the following languages: ASL | Simplified Chinese | Traditional Chinese | French | Hindi | Japanese | Korean | Punjabi | Spanish | Tagalog | TigrinyaVietnamese
Read what BC Children's Hospital pediatricians say about COVID-19 vaccination and children


How many vaccine doses does my child need?

Most children aged 5 to 11 should get two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine about 8 weeks apart for their primary (initial) series. Children in this age group who are moderately to severely immunosuppressed should receive a 3-dose primary series. Learn more about who is eligible to receive a third dose.

A booster dose is recommended for everyone 5 years and older at least 6 months after the primary (initial) series. Learn more about booster doses


Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for children?

Millions of children have safely received the COVID-19 vaccine in Canada and around the world.  Ongoing vaccine safety monitoring shows that the vaccine is safe for children and that serious side effects continue to be very rare.


What are the side effects of COVID-19 vaccines? 

Side effects are normal and are the result of the immune system responding to the vaccine. Some people have no side effects following COVID-19 vaccination, while others may have some type of side effect. Side effects are most often mild and last 1-3 days. Serious side effects are extremely rare.  
Common vaccine side effects may include:
  • Pain, redness, swelling, and itchiness where the vaccine was given.
  • More general symptoms, such as tiredness, headache, fever, chills, muscle or joint soreness, swollen lymph nodes under the armpit, nausea, and vomiting. 

Very rarely people have experienced myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining around the heart) following vaccination with a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine. 

  • The risk of myocarditis or pericarditis following mRNA vaccination is rare. Typically, this condition has been mild to moderate and people have recovered with or without treatment.
  • The rate of cases in younger children is much lower than in older children and adults. In the US, this occurred at a rate of about 2.7 cases per 1,000,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine in males 5-11 years of age.
  • The risk of myocarditis is much greater following COVID-19 infection than following vaccination.
  • Learn more about myocarditis and weighing the risks in this article from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

A severe allergic reaction (called anaphylaxis) can happen after any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines, but this is rare and happens in about one in a million people. Should this reaction occur, health care providers are prepared to treat it.

The safety of COVID-19 vaccines continues to be monitored. 

There is a very strict process to test and approve vaccines in Canada. Health Canada only approves a vaccine if the data from clinical trials show the vaccine is safe and effective and that the vaccine's benefits outweigh any risks. After a vaccine is approved for use, its safety is continuously monitored. 

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine safety and side effects. 


Have a positive vaccination experience 

Vaccines can cause some pain, stress, and anxiety for people of all ages.  Fortunately, there are many strategies that can be used before and during the vaccination appointment that can help make the vaccination experience better. 


Colouring pages: COVID-19 vaccine superhero

Jesse is going to get a COVID-19 vaccine and is a little nervous. Jesse brought a favourite toy and used belly breathing to feel calm. There was a tiny pinch on the arm, and it was over. That was easy! Jesse is now a COVID-19 vaccine superhero!

Print Jesse's story as a colouring page:


Read Jesse's story in colour!


Print and colour your own COVID-19 vaccine hero badge!



Date last reviewed: 
Thursday, Sep 29, 2022