ABOUT THE VACCINE
- 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.
- Initial vaccine series
Most children and youth need 2 doses to complete their initial vaccine series. The second dose of vaccine should be given 8 weeks after the first dose.Children and youth who are moderately to severely immunocompromised should receive 3 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for their initial series. These children and youth may not develop a strong enough immune response with only two vaccine doses and need a third dose to be better protected against COVID-19.
- Additional doses
An additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for everyone 5 years and older at least 6 months after their initial series. Scientists are still determining if children 6 months to 4 years of age will need an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.People who have had a positive COVID-19 test can wait 6 months for their additional dose. The likelihood of reinfection is low in this time after infection, and the immune response is higher when there is more time between infection and vaccination.Updated COVID-19 vaccines that help protect against the latest variants will be available in the fall. More information on BC’s fall COVID-19 vaccination campaign will be available in the coming months.
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.
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.
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.
ABOUT THE DISEASE
- 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.
- 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!