ABOUT THE VACCINE
To get your child vaccinated against COVID-19, you must register them with the provincial Get Vaccinated system. You will receive a booking invitation when it's time to book your child’s dose.
Benefits of COVID-19 vaccination in children and youth
- Vaccination protects against severe illness and hospitalization from COVID-19. There's no way to tell in advance how a child will be affected by COVID-19.
- Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer, more reliable way to build protection than getting sick with COVID-19.
- COVID-19 vaccines can offer added protection to children who have had COVID-19.
- Vaccination can make it less likely that children will miss out on activities like daycare, school, sports, and social events.
- Vaccinating children can help protect others, including family members and those most at risk.
BC Children's Hospital
Vaccines for children and youth
- Children 6 months to 4 years of age
- Health Canada has approved the Moderna mRNA vaccine for children 6 months to 5 years of age and the Pfizer mRNA vaccine for children 6 months to 4 years of age.
- The Moderna vaccine is given as a 2-dose primary (initial) series to children 6 months to 5 years of age and a 3-dose primary series to those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised.
- The Pfizer vaccine is given as a 3-dose primary series to children 6 months to 4 years of age and a 4-dose primary series to those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised.
The Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines for young children use a smaller dosage of the same vaccine used for youth and adults:
- Moderna is a 25 microgram dose, which is a quarter of the dosage for adults
- Pfizer is a 3 microgram dose, which is a tenth of the dosage for adults
- In BC, children 6 months to 4 years of age are routinely offered the Moderna vaccine. This is because the Moderna vaccine requires one less dose to complete the primary series than the Pfizer vaccine, which means children will be protected sooner.
- The Pfizer vaccine will not be routinely available at vaccine clinics. If a parent or guardian would like their child to receive the Pfizer vaccine, they can contact the provincial call centre at 1-833-838-2323 to request it.
- Scientists are still determining if children 6 months to 4 years of age will need a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Children 5 to 11 years of age
- Children 5 to 11 years of age should get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine for their primary series.
- Most children aged 5 to 11 need two doses of the vaccine about 8 weeks apart for their primary series. Children in this age group who are moderately to severely immunocompromised should receive a 3-dose primary series.
- A booster dose is recommended for everyone 5 years and older at least 6 months after the primary series. Children 5 - 11 will be offered the Pfizer bivalent (10 mcg) vaccine for their booster. This vaccine is one-third the dose of that given to people 2 years of age and older. Learn more about booster doses.
- Youth 12 to 17 years of age
The Novavax vaccine was approved for youth 12- 17 years of age in January 2023 for the primary series only. To get Novavax, a youth would need to register with the Get Vaccinated system and then call 1-833-838-2323 and tell the agent that they prefer to receive the Novavax vaccine. The mRNA vaccines are recommended for most people because they provide the best protection against COVID-19.
- Youth 12 to 17 years of age should get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine for their primary series.
- Most youth aged 12 to 17 need two doses of the vaccine for their primary series. Some youth who are moderately to severely immunocompromised should receive a 3-dose primary series.
- A booster dose is recommended for all youth. Everyone 5 and older can get a bivalent vaccine for their COVID-19 booster. The bivalent mRNA vaccine is the most updated vaccine that also targets the Omicron variant. Bivalent vaccines are expected to provide the best protection against COVID-19 and its variants. If you have not yet received a bivalent booster and you are 12 years of age or older, you can get one 6 months after your last dose. Learn more about booster doses.
Vaccination after COVID-19
COVID-19 vaccine safety and monitoring
COVID-19 vaccination is safe for children and youth. The vaccines were shown to be safe for children and youth in clinical trials. Since approval, millions of children in Canada and around the world have safely received COVID-19 vaccines, and ongoing safety monitoring continues to show that these vaccines are safe for this age group.
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. Once a vaccine is approved for use, its safety is continuously monitored.
Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine safety:
Some children and youth have side effects after getting their COVID-19 vaccine, while others have no side effects. Even if your child doesn’t experience any side effects, their body is building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. Side effects of COVID-19 vaccines are most often mild and generally last 1-2 days. Serious side effects are very rare.
Possible side effects after COVID-19 mRNA vaccines:
Possible side effects may include:
- Soreness, redness, swelling, and itchiness where the vaccine was given. For some people, these reactions may show up 8 or more days after getting the vaccine.
- Tiredness and headache.
- Fever and chills.
- Muscle or joint soreness.
- Swollen lymph nodes under the armpit.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Babies and young children may be irritable, more sleepy than normal, and have a decreased appetite.
Rare cases of inflammation of the heart (myocarditis and pericarditis) have been reported after getting the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.
- In Canada, this has occurred at a rate of about 1.7 cases per 100,000 doses of Moderna vaccine and 1.1 cases per 100,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for older children and adults.
- Cases are seen more often after the second dose and in males 12-29 years of age. The rate of cases in males 18-29 years of age after the second dose is about 5 times higher with the Moderna vaccine compared to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
- The rate of cases in younger children is much lower. 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.
- Rates for children 6 months to less than 5 years of age are unknown at this time. It is expected that cases will be very rare and rates will be lower than the rates for those older than 5 years of age.
The known risks of COVID-19 illness outweigh the potential risk of having a serious side effect following vaccination, including the possible risk of myocarditis or pericarditis.
Read this article from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Possible side effects after protein subunit vaccines (Novavax)
- Tenderness, soreness, redness, and swelling where the vaccine was given.
- Tiredness and headache.
- Muscle or joint soreness.
- Nausea and vomiting.
Anaphylaxis after vaccines
Reporting adverse events
What is an adverse event?
An adverse event following immunization (also known as an AEFI) is any untoward medical occurrence after a vaccine has been given that may or may not have been caused by the vaccine.
COVID-19 vaccination aftercare
ABOUT THE DISEASE
What is COVID-19?
- COVID-19 is an infection of the airways and lungs caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
- Symptoms of COVID-19 can include cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, tiredness, and loss of smell or taste.
- While some people with COVID-19 may have no symptoms or only mild symptoms, others can require hospitalization and may die.
- Serious illness is more common in those who are older and those with certain chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or lung disease.
- For some people, symptoms of COVID-19 can last for weeks or longer.
- The long-term effects of COVID-19 on a person’s health are unknown.
Risks of COVID-19 in children and youth
- Require hospitalization for complications, such as difficulty breathing.
- Get a severe lung infection and heart issues like myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle).
- Get a rare but serious complication 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 condition or "long COVID.”
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!