Young people from 5 to 17 years of age are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. They must have reached the age of 5 when the appointment is made.
Health Canada has authorized the Pfizer Messenger RNA vaccine for this age group.
How it will work
Young people from 5 to 17 years of age can be vaccinated at a vaccination clinic with or without an appointment. Depending on age, the student or parent, is responsible for booking the appointment and transport. Note that the vaccination of children and youth is done in vaccination centres or at school (not in pharmacies).
Vaccination at school
Parents of children age 5 to 11 will receive a letter from the school explaining how vaccination at school works.
Interval between doses
An interval of eight weeks or more is recommended between the first and second dose. This interval makes the vaccine more effective, in that it produces a stronger immune response and should last longer. The eight-week interval is also associated with a lower risk of myocarditis or pericarditis for people aged 12 years and older.
For immunosuppressed children aged 5 to 11 years, an interval of four weeks between the two doses is recommended. Since these children have a less effective immune response after the first dose and are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from the illness than children in good health, it is preferable to protect them more quickly.
The pediatric formulation of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine contains 10 µg of messenger RNA. This formulation is offered to children aged 5 to 11 years. Starting at age 12, the regular formulation containing 30 µg of messenger RNA is offered. The pediatric formulation produces an immune response in children aged 5 to 11 years that is just as effective as the immune response produced by the regular dose for people aged 12 years and older. The pediatric formulation causes fewer adverse reactions.
For people aged 12 years and older, only the regular formulation is authorized. A child who has turned 12 when it is time to receive the second dose will receive the regular formulation of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Most reactions are minor and will go away within 48 hours of receiving the vaccine.
People 13 years of age and under need the consent of a parent or legal guardian to be vaccinated.
Adolescents 14 years of age and older can give their own consent for the COVID-19 vaccination.
The Vaccination against COVID-19 for children age 5 to 11 leaflet provides information for informed consent for COVID-19 vaccination.
For information on the composition, efficiency and side effects, and for answers to other questions about the vaccine, see the COVID-19 Messenger RNA Vaccine page.
For information on vaccinating children who have had COVID-19, see Vaccination for people who have had COVID-19.
Reasons for young people to get vaccinated
Even if young people are much less at risk for severe complications if they catch COVID-19 as compared to older people, vaccinating 5-17 year-olds has a number of benefits:
- It will protect young people from rare but serious complications
- Vaccinating young people will restrict the virus from spreading and help control the pandemic by stopping transmission in the youth’s immediate circle.
- Vaccinating young people makes it possible to loosen other hygiene measures that control the spread of the virus and severely impact teaching activities and the overall wellbeing of students.
- Vaccinating young people caps outbreaks and limits classroom closures, which also facilitates student success and retention.
- Vaccinating young people means that sports and extracurricular activities can resume. These activities have a major positive effect on the mental and physical health of children and adolescents.