Youth & COVID-19 vaccines

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The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have been approved for youth 12-17 years of age, and this is an exciting step for fighting the pandemic. Further clinical trials in babies and children under 12 are ongoing. The vaccine is not yet available to younger children. BC is currently offering the mRNA vaccines to young people age 12 and older. If you qualify and have questions about getting your vaccine, or if you’re a parent with questions for your child, then you’re in the right place! This page covers what you need to know about getting the COVID-19 vaccine and a few of the most common questions we’ve received from kids about the COVID-19 vaccines. Find more info here.

Why should I get the COVID-19 vaccine? Don’t younger people get a milder case of COVID?

There are a lot of reasons why you should get the COVID-19 vaccine. Some reasons are personal, some reasons are for people close to you, and some are for your community, but all of them are for one core goal: beating COVID-19 and getting ourselves out of this pandemic.

So, why should you get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Because vaccines save lives!
Vaccines save millions of lives every year, making them one of the most important medical interventions in history. Did you know that vaccines have saved more lives in Canada than any other medical intervention in the past 50 years? The COVID vaccines are no different, and they have been proven to provide strong protection for vaccinated people.
Because vaccines protect our family, friends, and those around us!
COVID-19 does not hit most younger people as hard, but COVID-19 affects some people very seriously (like your grandparents or a friend who has a problem with their immune system). Immunization is so important because once you get transmission in young people, you can get spillover into older people and Elders who are more likely to have severe illness and end up in hospital. You may know someone who is at risk, your friend may have a family member who is at risk, or you could pass an at-risk person next time you’re at the grocery store. It’s impossible to know how our connections cross with people who are vulnerable to COVID-19, which is why it’s so important to limit the spread of the virus by getting vaccinated. This pandemic affects all of us, and the only way out of this pandemic is if we take actions that protect all of us too. Dr. Bonnie Henry says young people are an important age group in terms of protecting our communities. Getting vaccinated is what we need to do to get back to normal activities of life, like going to school in person, playing team sports, traveling, and spending time with friends!
Because you can be part of an epic moment in history!
The COVID-19 vaccines were developed more quickly than any previously approved vaccine in the world – not by compromising safety or accepting a mediocre vaccine as some people have worried about, but by worldwide cooperation from the international scientific community and taking advantage of recent scientific advances. You have read so much about the dangers of this deadly virus, and all of our lives have been hugely impacted! Here is a chance to beat COVID and get us through this really challenging time! Vaccination is our ticket to being able to move ahead and make a better history.
Because the vaccines are safe!
COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Canada has had strong in-depth vaccine safety measures in place for decades, and they are there to protect Canadians. The COVID-19 vaccines have gone through the same testing and approval process as other vaccines approved in Canada. COVID-19 is a deadly virus, and getting the disease is way more dangerous than taking any of the safe vaccines that have been approved in Canada.

Read more about COVID-19 Vaccine Safety for Youth.

How do I get the vaccine?

Go to the Government of BC website to find out how to register and who you can get vaccinated with. You can get vaccinated by yourself, with your parents, or with a trusted adult. Click here to find out more information about how to register.

What can I expect at the clinic?

Knowing what to expect at the clinic can help you feel more prepared to get a vaccine.

  • The BCCDC's Getting a vaccine page lets you know what happens at the clinic when you get the vaccine and what to do after.
  • Are you nervous about getting needles? Check out the CARD system to have a more positive vaccination experience. Make sure you tell your healthcare provider if you are nervous or have ever fainted after having a vaccine.
  • Remember it's okay to ask questions. Your healthcare provider wants to answer your questions and for you to feel comfortable.
  • If you are a parent and reading this, you can check out our page on how to prepare your child for a positive vaccination experience.

Do I need my parent’s permission to get the vaccine?

You can give your own permission to get the COVID-19 vaccine. This is called Mature Minor consent. In BC, there is a law called the Infants' Act, which applies to anyone under 19 years of age. This law says that you can give consent as a mature minor to receive health care (like getting a vaccine). If you can, we generally recommend that you talk to your parent or guardian though. So youth under the age of 19 who are able to understand the benefits and possible reactions for each vaccine, as well as the risk of not getting immunized, can legally consent to or refuse immunizations. This means that a young person may decide for themself whether or not to receive a vaccine. More information on mature minor consent can be found here.


KBI Kids' Questions on COVID-19 vaccines

We  work with a lot of different groups, but Kids Boost Immunity (KBI) is one of our favourites! KBI is a school-based learning platform that donates vaccines to people in need when students answer questions. KBI recently asked their students to submit COVID-19 vaccine questions, and the questions were great! We’ve included a few of the kid-submitted questions, with answers.
What are in the vaccines?

The purpose of a vaccine is to introduce your body to a virus before it meets the virus in real life. Because the virus is dangerous (we only make vaccines against dangerous germs) it is important to have protection (called antibodies) on board and ready to fight. Therefore, a vaccine is made by taking either pieces of a virus, or a weak version of a virus and placing it into a solution that can be injected into a muscle or fat tissue. The solution is made from different chemicals needed to make sure the vaccine is sterile and stable. There are many vaccines - most countries have approved over 50 vaccines! 

What are the side effects of COVID-19 vaccines?

The most common side effects are soreness, redness, swelling and itchiness where the vaccine was given. Other reactions may include tiredness, headache, fever, chills, muscle or joint soreness, swollen lymph nodes under the armpit, nausea and vomiting. These reactions are mild and generally last 1 to 2 days.

What is the difference between the COVID-19 vaccines?

The two mRNA vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) are very similar in that they contain the genetic code which is placed in a lipid nanoparticle as a way to deliver the genetic information. The AstraZeneca vaccine uses another virus (Adenovirus) as a vector or delivery method.

Has there been enough testing for the vaccine?

Yes. Before any vaccine is released for use in Canada it must show that the vaccine works and is safe. This has to be seen in both the clinical trials as well as during the real life use of the vaccine once a vaccine is released into the general population. 

Why are some people unsure about vaccines?

There are many reasons for this, but we’ll focus on the one that you can help fix. It is very easy for all of us (including adults) to believe things that aren’t true. It just takes a few people to spread a rumour to make people feel worried. This is why it’s important to check your sources, and to make sure you get your information from reliable sources!

What happens if the vaccines don't match the variants?

If there is no longer a good match between the virus and the vaccines, the vaccines will work less effectively.

How long will the pandemic last?
Scientists think that we need a large proportion of the entire population to be immune to the virus before we can stop further spread. At this point we don’t know how quickly we can immunize the world’s population before any more changes or mutations occur in the virus which could make it more contagious or make our vaccines less effective. We also don’t know how long immunity lasts either from having the disease, or from getting the vaccine. Until we know all of this information, we won’t be able to make predictions about the future of COVID-19.
What if I am afraid of needles?

Feeling a little worried or anxious when going to get a vaccine is normal, and people of all ages feel the same way. Some people might just feel a little nervous, and others might need to lie down for their vaccination so they feel comfortable. It is different for everyone, but luckily there are plenty of steps you can take to have a calm and more positive experience.

  • Be prepared. Knowing what the vaccination process will be like can help reduce stress or worry too. Visit this BCCDC page to learn about what to do and what to expect before, during and after the appointment.
  • Tell your health care provider. Let your immunizer know if you’re anxious about getting your vaccine or if you have ever fainted after getting a vaccine. They have dealt with anxiety plenty of times before, and they will be happy to talk to you and keep your mind off of the shot.
  • Deep Breathe. Take deep, slow breaths. Breathe in so your belly expands, then breathe out slowly. This helps keep you calm.
  • Distract yourself. Listen to music, watch videos, read, or talk to someone else with you to distract yourself.

If you are nervous about getting needles, you can use the CARD system! Click here to learn more about the CARD system. 


Thoughts from people in BC

Date last reviewed: 
Friday, Aug 27, 2021