Last updated: November 19, 2021 at 5:25 p.m.

Children 5 to 17 years old are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

As of November 19, 2021, Health Canada authorized the use of Pediatric Pfizer-BioNTech and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends a complete series of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. This vaccine is safe and effective for the 5–11 age group.

Here are some things you can do while waiting for the vaccine to become available for younger children:

Get Vaccinated Now

  • In Toronto, children are most likely to get COVID-19 from people in their household. The best way to protect everyone in your family is for eligible people to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible.
  • Anyone who already had a COVID-19 infection is recommended to get vaccinated. It is possible to get COVID-19 more than once. Vaccination is the best form of protection.
  • Children 5-11 years old (or turning 5 in 2021) should receive the pediatric Pfizer (10 mcg) dose
  • Youth 12 years of age and older should continue to receive the Pfizer (30 mcg) dose.

Talk to Your Health Care Provider and Get Your Questions Answered

Talk to Your Children

  • Be honest and share information in an age-appropriate way.
  • Listen and answer their questions or help them to find answers from credible, evidence-based sources.
  • Let them know how the vaccine will help them get back to doing all the things they love more safely.

Stay Informed

  • Keep checking back for new information. This webpage will be updated when additional information becomes available.

Continue to follow public health measures, such as washing hands, wearing masks, physical distancing and gathering outdoors instead of indoors when possible.

Risks of COVID-19 in Children

  • In Toronto, between September and November 2021, children age 4 to 13 years old had the highest rate of COVID-19 infection compared to all other age groups.
  • Unvaccinated individuals are at the highest risk of getting COVID-19.
  • Children with COVID-19 infection can spread it, even if they do not develop symptoms.
  • Children who get infected with COVID-19 usually experience mild symptoms, or no symptoms. However, some children have developed severe symptoms and needed hospitalization, even if they did not have other health conditions.
  • COVID-19 infection in children may lead to rare but serious health issues, including:
    • Myocarditis or pericarditis (heart inflammation)
    • Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C), a serious inflammatory reaction that occurs about four weeks after having COVID-19.
  • Children can develop long COVID, where they have symptoms long after getting COVID-19 infection, such as shortness of breath, severe tiredness, difficulty concentrating, and more. This can happen even if children have mild COVID-19 symptoms.

Children should get vaccinated, even if they usually have milder symptoms

  • The vaccine makes going to school, being with family and friends, and participating in activities we enjoy safer.

Vaccination Clinics

Once we receive delivery of the pediatric Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Team Toronto will place every available resource into a multi-pronged clinic delivery model. This model includes large fixed-site clinics – including the five City-run immunization clinics, school-based clinics, hospital and community-based clinics, more than 450 pharmacies and a number of pediatric and family physician practices.

The initial vaccine roll-out will include school-based clinics in 30 Toronto neighbourhoods over a three to four week period.

City-run immunization clinics

Appointments can be scheduled as soon as vaccine is available in the City. At that time, you can book at clinics in Toronto using the province’s online registration system or by calling the vaccine booking line at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY 1-866-797-0007).

City-run clinics are easily accessible by transit and offer free parking on-site. Clinic staff are also able to provide resources in multiple languages. A person with a vaccination appointment can also bring a support person to help with translation.

Learn more about City-operated immunization clinic transportation options and on-site amenities.

Toronto hospital and health teams vaccination clinics

Some Hospital and Ontario Health Team (OHT) immunization clinics are providing vaccination to individuals in Toronto. Some locations require appointments, others may offer walk-in vaccinations. Please check their website to review eligibility criteria and booking details for each clinic.

Participating pharmacies

There are more than 450 participating pharmacies in the City of Toronto offering COVID-19 vaccination for children. Most pharmacies book appointments ahead of time and some allow walk-ins.

Please call or visit the pharmacy’s website to review eligibility criteria and check if you need an appointment or if walk-in (first come, first served) vaccinations are available.

Shoppers Drug Mart

Rexall.ca

You must bring a valid Ontario health (OHIP) card or other form of valid government-issued identification with you to the appointment.

Find a pharmacy in your neighbourhood using the COVID-19: Vaccine Clinic Locations map.

School mobile clinics

A mobile school clinic model has been developed in partnership between Team Toronto partners, Toronto Public Health (TPH) and the city’s four public school boards. TPH is working to bring COVID-19 vaccinations or access to nearby vaccinations to all public schools in the city.

Parents/guardians and children will receive notice from their school when a clinic is hosted. Specific school vaccine clinic details will be sent in a letter from principals, for their school only.

Family health teams and physicians/paediatricians

In total, there are more than 110 health teams, physicians and paediatricians providing COVID-19 vaccinations in their clinic. Doctors will contact their patients directly if they are participating and will direct you on how to book your appointment.

Specialized accommodations/clinics

For children ages 5-17, SickKids can help coordinate their COVID-19 vaccination appointment and offer specialized services including drive-through vaccination and the availability of Child Life Specialists and paediatric vaccinators. Visit sickkids.ca/vaccineconsult to make a booking to speak with a Registered Nurse. If you need assistance booking an appointment, please call 437-881-3505 or toll free at 1-888-304-6558

Homebound vaccinations

Children between five (5) and 18 years old living with medical, physical, cognitive or psychosocial needs/conditions that prevent them from visiting a local clinic, pharmacy, or their care provider may get the COVID-19 vaccination in their home.

First, contact your child’s physician or homecare service to see if they offer home vaccination. If they do not, they will complete the Homebound COVID-19 Vaccination Referral Template form and send it to Toronto Paramedic Services (TPS).  TPS will call you and confirm your eligibility and, if confirmed, schedule a date and time for a Community Paramedic to visit and complete the child’s in-home vaccination.

If you have questions after speaking with your child’s physician, you may contact Toronto Paramedic Services by:

E-mail: homevaccination@toronto.ca or

Phone: 416-397-4322 (select option 2)

Learn more at How to Get Vaccinated – Homebound Persons.

Vaccine Safety

  • The COVID-19 vaccine has been tested in clinical trials for children age 5 to 11.
  • Health Canada has approved the vaccine as safe and effective for this age group, it meets quality standards, and the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks of COVID-19 infection.
  • Health Canada continues to monitor for safety.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine for children 5 to 11 years is a smaller dose (one-third) for people age 12 and over. This is because younger children have strong immune systems and need a smaller amount of vaccine to get protected.
  • A lower dose will help reduce vaccine side effects.
  • If you have questions or concerns about vaccine safety for your child, talk to a health care provider.
  • Compared to the Pfizer vaccine used for people age 12 and over, the pediatric Pfizer vaccine is considered a new product because it uses different buffers (Tris buffers that are commonly used in a variety of other approved vaccines, including for children) that improve stability and storage of the vaccine.
  • At this time, NACI suggests children 5-11 years old wait at least 14 days between getting another vaccine and getting the COVID-19 vaccine. This is a precautionary measure and a shortened interval between these vaccines may be given on an individual basis. Talk with a health care provider to discuss your situation.

Learn more about how vaccines are developed and approved. [Video, Health Canada]

COVID-19 vaccine side effects in children

Common COVID-19 side effects in children are similar to those seen in adults. Side effects are usually mild and go away within 1-3 days. They include:

  • Sore arm near the injection site
  • Feeling tired
  • Headache
  • Achy muscles or joints
  • Fever and chills

Very rare cases of myocarditis and pericarditis (heart inflammation) have been reported after getting the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine in youth and young adults. No cases of myocarditis or pericarditis were found in the clinical trials among 5 to 11 year olds.

It is important to know that there is a greater risk of myocarditis or pericarditis if someone gets COVID-19 compared to getting the COVID-19 vaccine (CDC, September 2021).

More information on myocarditis and pericarditis:

Clinical trial data for children 5 to 11 can be found on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website. More side effect information will come when the vaccine is approved by Health Canada.

COVID-19 vaccines and reproductive health

There is no evidence the COVID-19 vaccines impact fertility, menstrual irregularities, puberty, or normal growth and development.

Learn more about how the vaccines were developed & approved.

Benefits of the COVID-19 Vaccine

  • The vaccine reduces the risk of getting COVID-19 infection.
  • The vaccine reduces the risk of getting very sick and being hospitalized if someone does get infected with COVID-19.
  • Based on recent Ontario Ministry of Health data, the risk of getting a rare and less severe side effect (such as myocarditis or pericarditis) following COVID-19 vaccination in 12-17 year olds is 10x lower compared to COVID-19-related ICU admission for children 0-17 years old.
  • People who are fully vaccinated may not have to self-isolate if they are a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Vaccines have helped schools, extra-curricular activities and businesses re-open while keeping the spread of COVID-19 low. They also make these places safer for everyone, including those who cannot get vaccinated, or who are at increased risk of getting very sick.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine helps children go back to school, sports and other activities

Some organizations may require proof of vaccination from those who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in order to participate in activities.

The more children who are vaccinated, the safer school, sports or other activities will be. It will reduce the risk of outbreaks, and prevent closures or disruptions in school and activities. In this way, vaccines help kids get back to ‘normal’, which helps to protect and promote their mental health and wellbeing.

Learn more about the benefits of being fully vaccinated.

COVID-19 Vaccine Clinical Trial for Children 5 to 11 years old

Pfizer BioNtech conducted a clinical trial of their COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 – 11 years.

Clinical trial summary:

  • The randomized placebo-controlled trial included approximately 4,600 children from USA, Finland, Poland and Spain
  • Study participants included children who:
    • have tested positive for COVID-19 previously
    • have obesity and/or underlying medical conditions
    • identify as Black, American Indian, multi-racial, Asian, Hispanic/Latino and White
  • Children in the vaccine group received two 10 microgram doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine 21 days apart
  • The dose is 1/3 the amount in the vaccine available for people 12+
  • During the study, three individuals from the vaccine group and 16 individuals from the placebo group tested positive for COVID-19
    • Of these individuals, children in the vaccinated group had fewer and less severe symptoms compared to the children in the placebo group
  • Side effects were similar to those seen in people 12+ who have received the COVID-19 vaccine (e.g., pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache).
    • Majority of side effects occurred in the first one to two days following the vaccine, were mild and resolved quickly.
    • No serious side effects were identified during the study, including no cases of myocarditis
  • The vaccine was found to be 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children 5 to 11 years of age
  • This COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use in children 5 to 11 years old in the US.
  • Monitoring for safety is ongoing.

Talk to Your Child about Getting the Vaccine

Second Dose

It is strongly recommended that everyone (5 years of age and older) get two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. As recommended by NACI, children should get their second dose 8 weeks after receiving their first dose. It has been shown that longer intervals between the first and second dose provide better protection against COVID-19 infection (including the Delta variant) and improves vaccine effectiveness.

Children who receive the pediatric Pfizer vaccine (10 mcg) for their first dose and who turn 12 years old before getting the second dose may receive the youth/adult Pfizer vaccine (30 mcg). If the second dose given is the pediatric Pfizer vaccine, this is considered valid. A child will be considered fully vaccinated when they receive two doses of the vaccine AND 14 days have passed since the second dose.

As a precautionary measure, children who experience myocarditis/pericarditis after receiving their first dose of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine are recommended to postpone their second dose until more information is available. NACI, Public Health Ontario and the Ministry of Health continue to follow this closely and will update this recommendation as more evidence becomes available.