Children ages 6 months - 11 years

COVID-19 vaccination for children 6 months to under 5 years 

On September 9, 2022, Health Canada approved the use of the paediatric Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine for children 6 months to under 5 years of age. Three doses are required for a primary series in this age group with this vaccine product.

On July 14, 2022, Health Canada approved the use of the paediatric Moderna Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 6 months to under 5 years. Two doses are required for a primary series with this vaccine product.

Vaccines that have been approved by Health Canada have all received a thorough and independent scientific review of the research, and have been determined safe and effective for this age group. Learn more about Health Canada's approval of vaccines for children ages 6 months to under 5 years.

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 the virus to others. We have seen the positive effects of COVID-19 vaccination in the fight against this pandemic.

Not all children have only mild symptoms when they contract COVID-19. Being vaccinated can help improve the immune response to COVID-19 infection and lower the chances of severe illness, hospitalization, and post COVID-19 symptoms if your child does become infected with COVID-19. Vaccination is the best and safest way to give an extra layer of protection for all children, including those aged 6 months to under 5 years.

For optimal and longest lasting protection, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends that children ages 6 months to under 5 years receive their doses at least 8 weeks apart. For more information, please speak to your health care provider or call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900.

COVID-19 vaccination for ages 5-11

Health Canada has approved the paediatric Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) and the paediatric Moderna (Spikevax) COVID-19 vaccines for use in children ages 6 months and older. Vaccines that have been approved by Health Canada have all received a thorough and independent scientific review of the research, and have been determined safe and effective.

It is recommended that children and youth ages 5 and older receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. With informed consent, including awareness of the possible elevated risk of myocarditis/pericarditis, children ages five and older may receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

To complete their primary series, children ages 5 to 11 should receive their doses 8 weeks apart for optimal and longest lasting protection. As per NACI guidance, a longer interval between doses appears to provide optimal protection and may reduce the risk of myocarditis/pericarditis after the second dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. However, the authorized interval (e.g. greater than 21 days) may still be used with informed parental consent. 

As of September 1, 2022, children ages 5 to 11 are eligible to receive a booster dose of the paediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a recommended interval of 6 months after their primary series. Parents may choose to have their child receive their booster as early as 3 months with informed consent. 

It is important for children to stay up to date on their vaccinations, including booster doses, to have the best protection against COVID-19. 

Read the joint letter from Huron Perth Primary Care Providers (December 2021) for more information and answers to common questions about vaccinations for kids five to 11 years old. 

For more information about COVID-19 vaccination for children: 

Booking your appointment

Appointments are available at HPPH community vaccination clinics for anyone six months of age and older. 

Visit our Get a vaccination page to book an appointment.

Preparing your child to get vaccinated

For information on HPPH COVID-19 vaccine clinics, how to prepare, and what to expect when you arrive at a clinic, see our Preparing for your appointment page.

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. 

The CARD System

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. 

  • 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 are 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.

To access the CARD system resources in French, visit the AboutKidsHealth webpage.

For more resources and strategies specific to children under three years of age, see: Needle Pain and Anxiety Management for Vaccination Under 5.

See the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 vaccines for children and youth web page 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

Please do not come to the clinic if you or your child have COVID-19 symptoms, are waiting for COVID-19 test results, or are feeling unwell. Please reschedule your appointment to a later date.

  • Bring your child's health card with you, if you have one, or another piece of identification.
  • Wear a clean mask (individuals ages 2 and older) and a short sleeve shirt.
  • Think about what helps you, or your child, to relax and bring it! (e.g. headphones and relaxing music, a fidget, or a toy.) Check out 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 (e.g. videos, a toy, or a colouring sheet). Note: we will have some activity sheets available at the clinic.
  • Fill out the COVID-19 Client Information Sheet (consent form) and bring it with you. There will be forms available at the clinic you can fill out when you arrive too. 
    • Please ensure that consent forms are signed by a parent/legal guardian. The person accompanying your child to their appointment must also be able to answer the pre-screening questions on the last page of the consent form.

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:

  • 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. 

Please do not come to the clinic if your child has any symptoms of COVID-19 or is currently feeling sick.

After vaccination

The side effects after receiving a vaccination are different for every person, and most are mild. Side effects may after getting the COVID-19 vaccine may include: pain, swelling or redness at the injection site, tiredness, muscle soreness, mild fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, joint pain, or headache. These side effects are normal signs that the body is building protection, and generally go away after 1 to 3 days.

Serious allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) to the vaccine are rare and can be treated.

Your child will be monitored at the clinic for 15 minutes after receiving their vaccination. Get medical help immediately if your child has serious drowsiness, seizures/convulsions, trouble breathing, or develops hives or swelling in their face or throat, chest pain, shortness of breath and/or palpitations (pounding or racing heart), or feelings of an abnormal heart rhythm.

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 right away. 

Frequently asked questions

Why should children 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 affect 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 children, we can help protect their health as well as the health of other people who may be vulnerable to severe illness (e.g., grandparents, babies, or people with immunocompromising health conditions). The more people who are vaccinated in our community, the better chance we have of limiting transmission and decreasing disruptions to school, childcare, work, and activities.

How are vaccines approved?

Health Canada has approved COVID-19 vaccines for use in children 6 months to 11 years of age (paediatric Moderna Spikevax vaccine and paediatric Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine). Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada collaborate with NACI for evidence-based vaccine recommendations, review scientific literature on burden of disease, vaccine characteristics and product monographs. This means that they have determined that these vaccines are safe, effective and manufactured to the highest quality.

See COVID-19 Vaccine Approval Process and Safety for more information.

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 vaccines contain fats, salts, sugars and buffers.
  • The vaccines are 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, children 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 are no data that show 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 children and adults have now been in use for many months with billions of doses administered around the world.
How many doses does my child need? How far apart are the doses?

Children ages six months to under five years receiving the Moderna vaccine will get two doses, and those receiving the Pfizer vaccine will get three doses for their primary series. They should receive their doses at least 8 weeks apart for optimal and longest lasting protection, although a shorter interval may be used with informed parental consent.

Children ages five to 11 years should receive two doses, eight weeks apart, for their primary series, although a shorter interval may be used with informed parental consent. Five to 11 year olds may receive a booster dose at a recommended interval of six months after their primary series, or at a minimum interval of three months.

  • More data have become available that suggest that protection can be improved when the interval between doses is extended beyond the original manufacturer’s recommended interval.
  • As per NACI guidance, there is emerging safety data that suggest that a longer interval between dose one and two may reduce the risk of myocarditis/pericarditis after the second dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
  • These intervals appear to provide optimal protection while simultaneously minimizing the time at risk of infection due to having protection from only one dose.  
Can my child receive another vaccine, like the flu shot, around the same time?
  • Where possible, NACI recommends that children ages 6 months to under 5 years should get their COVID-19 vaccines at least 14 days before or 14 days after other non-COVID-19 vaccines. This is a precautionary measure so that the cause of any potential side effects can be correctly identified.
  • In some cases, your child’s health care provider may recommend a vaccine that is needed urgently. If spacing out vaccines is difficult or will create delays, young children can get COVID-19 vaccines at the same time as other vaccines. In any case, your health care provider can help you plan for when to get what.
  • Children between 5 and 11 years of age may be recommended to wait 14 days before or after administration of another vaccine before getting their COVID-19 vaccine. Speak with your health care provider if you have questions. 

If my child was 4 when they got their first dose and will turn 5 before they complete their primary series, which vaccine will they get? 

  • Your child should receive the same product for all their primary series doses, whether it is Pfizer or Moderna.

  • When children are 5 and older it is recommended they receive Pfizer; however, the Ontario Ministry of Health vaccine guidance advises that the same mRNA COVID-19 vaccine product should be offered for the subsequent dose in a primary series started with a specific mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

  • This means that children who have received a paediatric Moderna (25 mcg) dose and turn 5 prior to completing their primary series are recommended to receive Moderna (25 mcg) to complete their primary series.

Booking your child’s second dose

  • Using the online system to book children in this situation (age 4 turning 5) may be challenging. Please call the Huron Perth Public Health vaccine booking line at 1-833-753-2098 (Monday to Friday, 9:00am-3:30pm) to make your child’s second dose appointment.

My child is 11 years old. Should they wait until they are 12 to get an adult dose of vaccine?

  • Children who receive the 10 micrograms (mcg) paediatric Pfizer vaccine for their first dose and who have turned 12 by the time their second dose is due may receive the 30 mcg (‘larger’/adult dose) Pfizer vaccine that is authorized for individuals ages 12 and older to complete the vaccine series.
  • It is important to remember that vaccine dose is based on age, not weight. Your child will receive the vaccine dose that is currently authorized for their age.
Will the vaccine affect my child's future fertility?

There is no evidence and no theoretic reason to suspect that the COVID-19 vaccine could impair male or female fertility.

In response to online rumours suggesting that COVID-19 vaccination may affect future fertility, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) released the following 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.

I still have questions about the vaccines, who can I talk to?

  • Talk to your child's doctor, paediatrician, or nurse practitioner 
  • Call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre to speak to an agent or health specialist at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY for people who are deaf, hearing-impaired or speech-impaired: 1-866-797-0007), available in more than 300 languages, seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Book a confidential appointment with a registered nurse through the SickKids COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service at www.sickkids.ca/vaccineconsult or 1-888-304-6558 (appointments are available in multiple languages)

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 informed 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 6 month to 11 year olds [PDF]

Max Facts for Youth: learn about the COVID-19 vaccine for 6 month to 11 year olds [PDF]