COVID-19 Vaccine: Information for Parents and Caregivers

Image of an adult and child wearing face coverings and looking at the camera. The child has the sleeve of their T-shirt rolled up to show a band-aid on their arm.

Contact(s)

Francais

You want to do what's best for your child(ren), so we understand deciding to get your child vaccinated against COVID-19 can be a difficult decision. We're here to help you make a decision you and your child are comfortable with.  

Please explore the information and resources below to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine for children and help your family prepare to receive the vaccine.  

Speak With an Expert

You may wish to book an appointment to have a safe, judgement-free conversation over the phone with a pediatric nurse through the SickKids COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service. 

Please use the SickKids COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service if you:
  • Are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to conceive   

Visit the SickKids website for more information and to book your appointment. For assistance, call 437-881-3505 or 1-888-304-6559 (toll free).   

On This Page (click to view):  

About the Vaccine

Why?

Side Effects and Safety

Vaccine Development
Allergies
Fertility
Myocarditis and Pericarditis

Vaccine vs. Infection

Cultural Resources

Preparing Your Child for Vaccination

Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine  

Other information and supports

About the Vaccine

Women's College Hospital’s Dr. Meb Rashid discusses how the COIVD-19 vaccines work. 

Vaccine Misinformation  

Every day, we find out new information about COVID-19 and its vaccines. But how can we tell what is true and what is false? Check out these resources to help you learn more about COVID-19 and how to tell if something is true online.  

GAME: It's Contagious! 

This game lets you explore the latest verified information on COVID-19 vaccines and debunk common myths. It uses a simple swipe gesture. Test your knowledge!  

This website goes over why misinformation matters, what can you trust, what you should do if you see false info, and why expert advice changes.  

Why NOW is the right time to vaccinate children aged five to 11 years against COVID-19.  

  1.  The Omicron variant is very contagious. Most children will be exposed to COVID-19. Most children will have a mild illness. 
  2. COVID-19 vaccines are safe. They protect children from severe illness and long-term complications of COVID-19. 
  3. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization strongly recommends COVID-19 vaccines for children aged five to 11. 

What we know about COVID-19 infection in children aged five to 11 years: 

  • Most children with COVID-19 will have a mild illness. They may have a fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose, tiredness, vomiting, or diarrhea.  

  • Some children, including children with no health conditions, can get very sick and die from COVID-19.  

  • Children can get “long COVID” and have health problems that last weeks, months, or longer (e.g., tiredness, problems with breathing, and muscle pain).  

  • Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) is much more common and severe after a COVID-19 infection than after a vaccine.  

  • COVID-19 can cause multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). MIS-C is most common in children aged five to 11. MIS-C is rare, but very serious. It causes inflammation of the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, and stomach. 

What we know about Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11 years: 

  • Over 10 million children in North America have had a COVID-19 vaccine.  

  • Vaccines protect children from getting sick with COVID-19 and lower the risk of spreading COVID-19. Vaccines protect children from getting MIS-C.  

  • Mild side effects are common after the vaccine (e.g., sore arm, tiredness). They usually go away after a few days.  

  • The risk of myocarditis is even lower for children than it is for teens and adults. In the US, the rate of myocarditis in children is less than 5 per million second vaccine doses (less than 0.0005%). 

  • Long-term side effects are not expected. Vaccine ingredients are gone from the body in two to three days.  

  • Vaccines do not affect fertility, genes (DNA), or hormones.  

Adapted and reproduced with permission of University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy ©Pharmacy5in5.com. Original document available here.   

Why should I get my child vaccinated if the COVID-19 infection has a 99% survival rate? 

  • Although death due to COVID-19 infection is considered rare in children, they can still be hospitalized and require ICU-level care.
  • COVID-19 can also cause long-term health problems for children. It can damage the heart, brain, lungs, kidneys, digestive system, eyes, and increase children’s risk of future health problems. Even young, healthy kids with mild infections can feel unwell for weeks to months after being infected with COVID-19. [1] 
  • COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. In clinical trials, the Pfizer vaccine was shown to be 91% effective against symptomatic infection, with only short-term, mild side effects. If vaccinated children do become infected with COVID-19, vaccines still work well to protect children from severe illness, hospitalization, and long-term complications. [1] 
  • Children should get vaccinated because the short-term side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are less than the risk and potential long-term health damage caused by the COVID-19 virus.  

VIDEO: What are the benefits of vaccinating my child against COVID-19?  

Watch pediatrician and infectious disease specialist, Dr. Cora Constantinescu from Alberta Children’s Hospital and the University of Calgary, explain the risks of COVID-19 to children and the benefits of vaccination. 

What are the vaccine’s side effects? 

Mild side effects are expected after vaccination as your body is responding to the vaccine. 

Some people do not have any side effects. Others have mild side effects, and this is normal. Side effects go away by themselves very quickly. After a few days the vaccine is no longer in the body; all that is left is the body’s natural immune response which protects against COVID-19. See the chart below for some common vaccine side effects. [2] 

Common Side Effects
Side effects at the injection site: General side effects:             
  • redness
  • soreness
  • swelling

 

 

 

 

  • chills 

  • fatigue 

  • joint pain 

  • headache 

  • mild fever 

  • muscle aches  

VIDEO: What common side effects might children experience after being vaccinated?   

Watch Dr. Laura Sauvé, pediatric infectious disease specialist at BC Children’s Hospital, explain some of the common side effects of the children’s COVID-19 vaccine.   

How can anyone be sure a vaccine developed so quickly is also safe?  

  • While vaccines for COVID-19 seemed to be developed quickly, scientists and researchers have actually been working on coronavirus vaccines for more than 10 years. Lots of this work started after the SARS outbreak in 2003 [3], and work on mRNA vaccines started before that [4]. This work was an important starting point for making the COVID-19 vaccines.  
  • Because many people were getting sick and dying from COVID-19, scientists and governments from around the world worked together to create and approve the COVID-19 vaccines. The COVID-19 vaccines also received large amounts of funding from governments and individuals which helped speed up development.  
  • Large numbers of people volunteered to test the COVID-19 vaccines, which is part of the reason why the vaccines were available so quickly.  
  • No corners were cut while creating or testing the COVID-19 vaccines. Once COVID-19 vaccines were created, Health Canada put these vaccines through the normal approval process that every drug and vaccine must go through before it is available to the public.  
  • Over 2.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to children aged five 11 in Canada with no major safety issues reported [5]. The safety of COVID-19 vaccines continues to be monitored by Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization [6].   

Public Health Ontario has prepared a helpful sheet summarizing the Safety of COVID-19 Vaccine in 5-11 Year Old’s in Ontario.  

VIDEO: Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for children & youth?  

Women's College Hospital’s Dr. Noah Ivers discusses the COVID-19 vaccine and why it's safe for children and youth.  

 

If my child has had COVID-19, should they get vaccinated? How long should they wait? 

Yes. It is recommended that anyone who has had COVID-19 illness should still get the vaccine. While having had COVID-19 offers you some protection, we don’t know how long that protection lasts or how good that protection is. So, it is still important to get the vaccine. [7] 

Once your child is symptom free, there is no required amount of time that they must wait before getting vaccinated. However, there are recommended intervals (see below). You should consider having a risk/benefit discussion with your child’s healthcare provider or call the SickKids COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service as there are many factors that can influence this decision. 

  • If your child had COVID-19 before receiving their first or second COVID-19 vaccine dose, it is suggested they receive their first/second dose 8 weeks after symptom onset or positive test (if symptom free). [8] 
  • If your child is moderately to severely immunocompromised, it is suggested the vaccine be offered 4-8 weeks after symptom onset or positive test (if symptom free). [8] 

  • If your child has a history of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C), it is suggested to wait at least 90 days after recovery or onset of MIS-C (whichever is longer). [8] 

Please note, longer intervals between infection and vaccination as recommended above may result in a better immune response. [8] 

VIDEO: If someone has already had COVID-19, do they need to get the vaccine?  

Health expert, Dr. Danielle Martin, discusses why it is important to get the vaccine even if you have already had COVID-19.  

 

What about reports of vaccine side effects like myocarditis and pericarditis in younger people? 

Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) or pericarditis (inflammation of the heart’s outer lining) are rare and most commonly experienced by older adolescents and young adults. Both are extremely rare as side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. More than 10 million children in the U.S. and Canada have received the vaccine with very few reports of these conditions.  [3] 

Myocarditis and pericarditis actually occur far more often after a COVID-19 infection than after COVID-19 vaccines. [3] 

Additional information about myocarditis and pericarditis after COVID-19 infection and vaccination is available in this guide from the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy ©Pharmacy5in5.com.  

Is vaccination safe for children with allergies?   

Yes. There is no reason a child with a food allergy of any kind should not be vaccinated. Children with a history of allergy to foods, oral drugs, insect venom or environmental allergies can receive COVID-19 vaccines without any special precautions [3].

If you are concerned about the possibility of an allergic reaction to any of the vaccine ingredients or a previous dose of the vaccine, please consult your child’s primary healthcare provider or call the SickKids COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service.  

For more information on allergies and COVID-19 vaccination check the FAQs from the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.  

Can the COVID-19 vaccine affect puberty or fertility in children? 

There is no evidence or scientific reason to believe that the COVID-19 vaccine can affect puberty or fertility in children. Clinical trials have shown that the vaccine is very safe. [3] 

In response to the online rumours suggesting that COVID-19 vaccination may affect future fertility, the Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) released the following statement on COVID-19 Vaccination and Fertility.   

VIDEO: Do COVID-19 Vaccines Cause Infertility? 

Dr. Paul Offit from the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia explains why infertility is not a concern following COVID-19 or receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine.  

VIDEO: Can the COVID-19 vaccine affect puberty or fertility in children?  

Dr. Julia Orkin, paediatrician, talks about puberty and fertility after COVID-19 vaccination. 

Cultural Resources

Maad’ookiing Mshkiki – Sharing Medicine 

Maad’ookiing Mshkiki – Sharing Medicine is a virtual hub that provides culturally relevant and trauma informed information about COVID-19 vaccinations for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. It aims to share traditional knowledges and healing practices across Indigenous cultures with western biomedical scientific information, while also acknowledging traumatic experiences in healthcare.

These resources provide information to enable and empower people to make informed decisions about their own health and wellbeing.  

Resources produced by the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy ©Pharmacy5in5.com.

Preparing Your Child for Vaccination   

We know that children, youth, and parents/caregivers may have concerns about vaccination. Knowing what to expect and how to prepare your child can help ease worries and make vaccination a positive experience for your family. Please browse the resources below to learn more.  

Resources for Parents and Caregivers  

  • Needles Don't Have to Hurt:  Save this one-page guide to help make vaccinations easier for you and your child. This guide provides tips for children and youth up to age 17. The information in this guide comes from Canada’s leading pediatric researchers and clinicians.  

VIDEO: Mom Hack: What You Can Do When Kids Are Afraid of Needles  

So, your kids are afraid of needles, what can you do to ease their fears? Watch this quick Mom Hack video to find out some easy things you can try to make needles less scary for your kids.

  • Preparing children for school vaccinations: A parent's guide: This two-page guide covers talking to your child, the CARD system, preparing your child, tips for vaccination day, and what to expect after the needle. This guide comes from trustworthy sources such as SickKids, Immunize Canada and the University of Toronto.  
  • The CARD System Worksheet: Write down your CARD strategies together so you have the same plan going into the appointment. It may be helpful to bring the completed worksheet with you to keep you both on track. Created by trustworthy sources such as SickKids, Immunize Canada and the University of Toronto.  
  • Meg Foundation: Empowering Families to Prevent and Relieve Pain: The Meg Foundation has lots of great resources for parents/caregivers and kids! Browse the website yourself or check out these recommended pages:  
  • SuperMeg Needle Poke Planner for Kids: SuperMeg will guide your child to create their own plan to make their next vaccination more comfortable and less scary! Your child will answer some questions and make some choices, giving them more control over their healthcare experience. Once your child is finished, their customized plan is emailed to you. That email will include all the information, resources, and tools you need to make that plan a reality. 
  • Pain Champions Guide for Grown Ups: SuperMeg will guide you through learning about how pain works, different strategies for managing it, and how you can talk to kids and health care providers about what works for you and your family. In just a few minutes, you’ll have what you need to make medical visits a lot calmer and more comfortable. 

Resources for Kids – Activities and Videos  

  • COVID-19 vaccine superhero: Jesse's story: 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! Read Jesse’s story and color in the pages (created by the BC Centre for Disease Control).  
VIDEO: Youth COVID-19 Vaccination: What to Expect  

SickKids Children’s Council member Melissa takes you through the steps for what to expect when you get your COVID-19 vaccination. 

VIDEO: Understanding the COVID-19 Vaccine for Kids  

Dr. Patches explains the WHAT, HOW, and WHY behind the COVID-19 vaccine for kids aged 5-11. Help your child learn why getting vaccinated protects themselves and helps them protect other people! 

Kids' Activity Sheets  

Activity Sheets created by the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy ©Pharmacy5in5.com. Check out their website for more resources and activity sheets!  

Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine  

Where can my child get vaccinated?  

Individuals five years of age and older are encouraged to attend one of our upcoming clinics or get vaccinating at a participating pharmacy or physician's office. Visit our Health Unit’s COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments and Clinics page to learn more.  

Do parents/guardians need to consent or attend the appointment?   

Under the provincial Health Care Consent Act (HCCA), there is no minimum age requirement to provide consent for vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines are only provided if informed consent is received from the person to be vaccinated, and as long as they have the capacity to make this decision. 

Every vaccine that is given requires informed consent. Informed consent means that before receiving a vaccine, a person understands what the vaccination involves, why it is being recommended, possible side effects, and the risks and benefits if they accept or refuse the vaccine. It includes the opportunity for a safe and open discussion with a healthcare practitioner who will ultimately support their voluntary choice.  

If the child/youth is able to provide informed consent, a parent/guardian does not need to attend the appointment. We encourage families to discuss vaccination plans together.  

Trained and experienced nurses are available at our clinics to talk with you and your children about the vaccine and answer any questions or concerns your child may have before giving consent. 

Can a parent or guardian request information about a youth’s appointment or health? 

If a parent or guardian requests information about a youth who has provided informed consent to receive a vaccine, the Health Unit will require that youth’s permission to share their information with someone else. 

Confidentiality is a legal obligation not to disclose information obtained in confidence without a person’s consent and applies to youth as well as adults. In most situations, a capable youth has the right to determine who will be given access to their personal health information, including parents or guardians. Sometimes, a youth may want to speak to their healthcare practitioner alone, and keep information or the decision to obtain a treatment like a vaccine, private. 

What other information and supports are available?  

I cannot decide if vaccinating my child is the right thing to do. Who can I talk to? 

Contact your child’s primary healthcare provider or the SickKids COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service.

Get more information from trustworthy sources 

  • AboutKidsHealth is a health education resource for children, youth, and caregivers that is approved by health-care providers at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). 
  • Parent Homework provides families with trusted information about COVID-19 vaccination for children. It was created by the Children's Health Coalition with input from children’s health experts including doctors, nurses, leaders in infectious diseases, and parents.  
  • Max the Vax by the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies provides trusted, evidence-based content about COVID-19 vaccines for caregivers and children.  
  • Public Health Agency of Canada - Vaccines for children: COVID-19 provides up-to-date information on the importance of vaccination, vaccination after being infected with COVID-19, possible side effects, how the vaccines are studied and tested for children and youth, how to have a positive vaccination experience, vaccines approved for children and youth, and protecting unvaccinated children.  

References 

[1]  

ParentHomework.ca, "Vaccine Facts," Children's Health Coalition, 2022. [Online]. Available: https://parenthomework.ca/vaccine-facts. [Accessed 28 April 2022]. 

[2]  

Public Health Agency of Canada / Agence de la santé publique du Canada, "Vaccines for children: COVID-19," Canada.ca, 17 March 2022. [Online]. Available: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/vaccination-children/covid-19.html. [Accessed 28 April 2022]. 

[3]  

Toronto: The Hospital for Sick Children, "COVID-19 vaccine information for children (ages five to 11)," 22 April 2022. [Online]. Available: https://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/Article?contentid=4001&language=English#. [Accessed 28 April 2022]. 

[4]  

Canadian Institutes of Health Research / Instituts de recherche en santé du Canada, "The long road to mRNA vaccines," 26 October 2021. [Online]. Available: https://cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/52424.html. 

[5]  

Public Health Agency of Canada / Agence de la santé publique du Canada, "Canadian report on COVID-19 vaccine doses administered. Ottawa: Public Health Agency of Canada," 29 April 2022. [Online]. Available: https://health-infobase.canada.ca/covid-19/vaccine-administration/. 

[6]  

Public Health Ontario, "Safety of COVID-19 Vaccine in 5-11 year Olds," 27 February 2022. [Online]. Available: https://www.publichealthontario.ca/-/media/Documents/nCoV/Vaccines/2022/03/covid-19-safety-vaccine-five-eleven-year-olds.pdf?sc_lang=en. [Accessed 28 April 2022]. 

[7]  

ParentHomework.ca, "Frequently Asked Questions," Children's Health Coalition, 2022. [Online]. Available: https://parenthomework.ca/faqs. [Accessed 28 April 2022]. 

[8]  

Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care / Ministère de la Santé et des Soins de longue durée, "COVID-19 Vaccine Information Sheet: For Children (age 5-11)," 22 February 2022. [Online]. Available: https://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/pro/programs/publichealth/coronavirus/docs/vaccine/COVID-19_vaccine_info_sheet_kids_5_11.pdf. [Accessed 28 April 2022]. 

 

North Bay

345 Oak Street West
705-474-1400

Parry Sound

70 Joseph Street Unit #302
705-746-5801

Burk's Falls

17 Copeland Street (by appointment only)
1-800-563-2808