Children ages 5-11

COVID-19 vaccination for children 5 to 11 years old has been approved

Updated: Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Health Canada has authorized a Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine made for children aged 5 to 11. Learn more about Health Canada's approval of vaccines for youth ages 5-11.

COVID-19 vaccination for ages 5-11

Vaccines are the most effective tool we have to protect ourselves and our loved ones from COVID-19. Vaccines protect us by helping our body build immunity and decreasing our chance of spreading it to others. We have seen the positive effects vaccination has had against COVID-19 in the fight against this pandemic.

The pediatric Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for youth aged 5 (or turning 5 in 2021) to 11 in Canada. It is safe and effective for this age group. It’s important for your child to get fully vaccinated to get the best protection against COVID-19. It is recommended that children 5-11 receive two doses, 8 weeks apart for optimal and longest lasting protection.

Booking your appointment

Appointments are now available for children ages 5 to 11 at HPPH clinics. Visit our Vaccine Booking page to book an appointment. Many of our clinics will be child-friendly starting November 30; please look for clinic dates that say "5-11 friendly". 

While anyone eligible for vaccine can book into any clinic, we encourage people to book into the clinic most appropriate for them. We also recommend parents/caregivers bring something along to help their child relax during their appointment, such as headphones and music, a toy, or a fidget.

Preparing your child to get vaccinated

Being nervous about needles is common. If your child is anxious about receiving a needle, or they have fainted or become dizzy with immunizations before, please let the vaccinator at the clinic know. We want everyone to feel comfortable and safe.

Talking to your children about vaccinations can help to reduce anxiety they may have about getting needles. 

You can use the CARD (Comfort, Ask, Relax, Distract) System [PDF] to come up with ideas and a plan to help relax before and during a vaccination. Talking about vaccines with your child now can help prepare them for when a COVID-19 vaccine is available to them.

  • Comfort | find ways to be comfortable
    • Validate your child's worries. Talk with them about ways to relax and feel comfortable.
    • Explain what is happening when you're at the clinic. 
  • Ask | ask questions to be prepared
    • Answer any questions your child might have; the vaccinator can help with this.
  • Relax | keep yourself calm
    • Model relaxation for your child by talking in a calm tone.
    • Take some deep breaths with your child.
    • Talk about ways to relax before your appointment.
  • Distract | shift your attention
    • Distraction can help with reducing pain and anxiety when receiving a needle.
    • The most effective distraction requires thinking and doing (some distraction tools are available at our clinics and may be used by our vaccinators).
    • Calm slow steady talking from one person can be helpful.

See the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 Vaccine Information Sheet for Children (age 5-11) for more information and make sure all of your questions have been answered by a health care provider before your child gets the vaccine.

What to bring to your appointment
  • Bring your child's health card with you, if you have one, or another piece of identification.
  • Wear a clean mask and a short sleeve shirt.
  • Think about what helps you, or your child, to relax and bring it! (For example, headphones and relaxing music, a fidget, or a toy.) Check our the CARDs tips above to help you prepare.
  • Show up on time, rather than coming early.
  • Bring something to keep your child busy and distracted while you wait your 15 minutes (for example, videos, a toy, or a colouring sheet). Note: we will have some activity sheets available at the clinic.
  • Fill out the consent form and bring it with you. There will be forms available at the clinic you can fill out when you arrive too.

Before receiving the vaccine, tell your child's vaccinator

Before your child receives the COVID-19 vaccine, tell the vaccinator at the clinic if your child:

  • Is currently feeling sick or have signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Has any allergies or had an allergic reaction to a previous COVID-19 vaccine dose or another vaccine.
  • Is immunosuppressed due to disease or treatment or has been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition.
  • Has ever fainted or became dizzy after getting a vaccine or a medical procedure, or has a fear of needles.
  • Has a bleeding disorder or are taking medication that could affect blood clotting. 

After vaccination

Serious allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) to the vaccine are rare and can be treated. Your child will be monitored in the clinic after receiving their vaccination. Get medical help if your child has trouble breathing or develops hives or swelling in their face or throat, chest pain, shortness of breath and/or palpitations (racing heart), or feelings of an abnormal heart rhythm.

Just like adults, youth may experience temporary side effects. The side effects after receiving a vaccination are different for every person, and most are mild. Common side effects are sore arm, tiredness, headache, achy muscles or joints, and fever and chills. These side effects generally clear up within 1 to 3 days.

If your child has a high fever (over 40°C or 104°F) or side effects that are worrying you or do not seem to be going away after a few days, contact your child's health care provider or seek medical attention. Go to the nearest emergency department or call 911 if they have serious drowsiness, seizures/convulsions, hives, swelling of the face, throat or mouth, trouble breathing or other serious symptoms. 

Frequently asked questions

Why should youth get vaccinated?

Vaccines are the best protection we have against COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccination protects us and our kids from severe illness, by helping our body build immunity.

Most young people who contract COVID-19 have mild symptoms or none at all. However, some children with COVID-19 can get very sick, and others may experience more serious, longer-lasting symptoms that effect their health. We are still learning about this, what is being referred to as "long-COVID."

Children can also spread COVID-19 to others, even if they have no symptoms or mild symptoms. By vaccinating youth, we can help protect their health as well as the health of other people who may be vulnerable to severe illness. The more people who are vaccinated in our community, the better chance we have to reduce spread and keep our schools, daycares, businesses, and recreational activities open.

We have seen an increase in cases among this age group over the past three months, and vaccination can help prevent further spread of COVID-19 in our community. 

How are vaccines approved?

The vaccine has been approved by Health Canada, which means that they have determined that this vaccine is safe, effective and manufactured to the highest quality.

Health Canada only authorizes the use of a vaccine if the independent and thorough scientific review of all the data show that the benefits of the vaccine outweighed any of the potential risks. Learn more about Health Canada's Vaccines for children: COVID-19.

What are the vaccine ingredients?
  • The vaccine contains fats, salts, sugars and buffers.
  • The vaccine is safe, even if you have food, drug or environmental allergies
  • Talk to your healthcare provider or allergist first if your child is allergic to polyethylene glycol (PEG).
What are the side effects?
Just like adults, youth may experience temporary side effects. The side effects after receiving a vaccination are different for every person, and most are mild. Common side effects are sore arm, tiredness, headache, achy muscles or joints, and fever and chills. These side effects generally clear up within 1 to 3 days. They are also a positive sign that the vaccine is beginning to work.
Are there potential long-term effects?
  • At this time, there is no data that shows any negative long-term effects from the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Using an mRNA vaccine is not new vaccine technology. Scientists have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades, including for flu, Zika, rabies, cytomegalovirus (CMV), and cancer treatments. Decades of studying mRNA have shown no long-term side effects.
  • Any vaccine side effects tend to happen in the first 6 weeks, and regulators in many countries required at least eight weeks of safety data. The vaccines for adults have now been in use for many months with billions of doses administered around the world.
  • The mRNA in the COVID-19 vaccine is broken down by the body in 2 to 3 days.
    • The spike protein may stay in the body for up to 2 to 3 weeks.
  • The mRNA in the COVID-19 vaccine gets broken down very quickly after it is injected and cannot access your child's genetics. The COVID-19 vaccines do not affect puberty, the ability to have children, or your child's hormones as it is not involved in these body systems.
How many doses does my child need? How far apart are the doses?
Similar to individuals 12 and older, children ages 5-11 will need two doses. Children ages 5-11 should receive a second dose at 8 weeks apart for optimal and longest lasting protection.
Can my child receive another vaccine, like the flu shot, around the same time?
  • If possible, children ages 5-11 shouldn’t receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine within 14 days of other vaccines, such as the flu vaccine.
  • This is a precaution to monitor any side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine or another vaccine.
  • In some cases, your child’s health care provider may recommend a vaccine that’s needed urgently. This may happen even if your child has received the COVID-19 vaccine in the past 2 weeks.
  • Adults and youth aged 12 to 17 may receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time or any time before or after, other vaccines.
What is Myocarditis/Pericarditis?
Health Canada recently released a statement after reviewing international reports of rare cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the sac in which the heart sits inside of the chest) following vaccination with COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.

Cases have been mild, happening more commonly after the second dose of vaccine, and more often in male adolescents and young adults. Symptoms have been reported to start a few days after vaccination.

The association of myocarditis and pericarditis with mRNA vaccination and a mechanism for inflammation remain under investigation. The WHO and PHAC continue to recommend that COVID-19 vaccine be offered as the benefits outweigh the risks. This situation is being monitored closely in Canada and internationally. mRNA COVID-19 vaccines continue to be recommended in Canada and other countries when mRNA vaccines are being used.

No cases of myocarditis or pericarditis were seen post-immunization for ages 5-11 in initial studies

Adverse effects following immunization are closely monitored for all vaccines.

Will the vaccine affect my child's future fertility?

No. In response to the online rumours suggesting that COVID-19 vaccination may affect future fertility, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) released a statement:

There is absolutely no evidence, and no theoretic reason to suspect that the COVID-19 vaccine could impair male or female fertility. These rumours are unfounded and harmful. The widespread social media concern stems from misinformation about the similarities between syncytin-1 (used for placental implantation) and the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. While the two proteins have several similar amino acids, they remain vastly different. The antibodies produced against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein would not have cross-reactivity with syncitin-1.

The COVID-19 vaccines do not affect puberty, the ability to have children, or your child's hormones as it is not involved in these body systems.

I still have questions about the vaccines

Talk to your doctor or nurse practitioner about any questions you might have. The following service is also available:

  • The SickKids COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service is a by-appointment phone service that provides a safe, judgement-free space to have an open conversation about the COVID-19 vaccine for children and youth. It is available in multiple languages, using over-the-phone language interpretation.

Vaccine safety information

Max the VaxThe Max the Vax Campaign has been created to provide caregivers, and the children they look after, reliable information to make educated decisions about being vaccinated against COVID-19. It has been developed by a team of Canadian physicians, scientists and health care providers to share trusted, evidence-based content about COVID-19 and vaccines.

Max Facts for Caregivers: learn about the COVID-19 Vaccine for 5 to 11 year olds [PDF]

Max Facts for Youth: learn about the COVID-19 vaccine for 5 to 11 year olds [PDF]