COVID-19 Immunization for Children Under 12 - FAQ

COVID-19

Last Updated: April 8, 2022

COVID-19 immunization provides children with protection from COVID-19 as well as protection for their families, siblings, friends and classmates.

We encourage all parents and guardians to talk to their pediatrician or family physician about getting their children immunized against COVID-19, if they have questions or concerns.

Frequently Asked Questions

Resources

Q: When will children be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

A: Health Canada authorized the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children 5 – 11 years of age on Nov. 19, 2021. Appointments became available Nov. 24.

The Moderna vaccine was authorized for children 6 to 11 years of age on Mar. 17, 2022. The Moderna vaccine can be used to start or complete a primary COVID-19 vaccine series. Appointments will be available starting Apr. 12.

How to book: ahs.ca/vaccine

Q: Which vaccine product is best for my child?

A: Due to the currently unknown risk of myocarditis and/or pericarditis for the Moderna vaccine in children 6 to 11 years of age, and the known lower risk of myocarditis/pericarditis with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine compared to Moderna in individuals 12 to 29 years of age, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is preferentially recommended for children 6 to 11 years of age to start and/or complete their primary series.

How to book: ahs.ca/vaccine

Q: How do I book an appointment for my child's COVID-19 vaccine?

A: How to book: ahs.ca/vaccine

Q: What is the recommended spacing between doses?

A: The recommended interval between the first and second doses for children aged five to 11 is at least eight weeks.

Emerging evidence suggests that longer intervals between the first and second dose result in a more robust immune response and higher vaccine effectiveness.

This recommendation aligns with National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommendations. Alberta Health continues to monitor the emergning evidence and will recommend changes to this interval if needed.

Q: My child is immunocompromised/requires a second dose for travel. Are they able to receive their second dose earlier than the recommended eight week interval?

A: Parents/guardians can book a second dose appointment before the recommended eight weeks online or by calling HealthLink at 811, if their child is immunocompromised or if the second dose is required for travel. The absolute minimum spacing between doses is 21 days.

Visit alberta.ca/vaccine for information on immunocompromising conditions.

Please note, there may be an increased risk of myocarditis/pericarditis following immunization earlier than the recommended eight weeks. See myocarditis and pericarditis after mRNA vaccination.

However, a shortened interval between first and second doses may offer:

  • Better protection for some individuals who may be susceptible to infection, such as those that are immunocompromised.
  • Earlier protection for individuals who are at greater risk of severe disease such as those with underlying high risk medical conditions.
  • Earlier protection against COVID-19 and variants of concern.

If you have questions or concerns, please discuss with your immunizer.

Q: Can my child receive another immunization, and the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time?

A: It is safe to get two vaccines at the same time. However, because the pediatric Pfizer vaccine is new, Alberta Health recommends that those in this age group wait for a period of at least 14 days before and after the administration of COVID-19 vaccine and the administration of another vaccine. This is to help that any rare adverse event following either immunization is identified appropriately. Routine school immunizations can be administered regardless of spacing from COVID-19 vaccine.

Q: Why do children need to be immunized against COVID-19?

A: While many children experience mild symptoms, some kids can get very sick and experience complications, or long-lasting symptoms. While rare, the virus can also cause death in children.

Similar to the rest of the population, children also can transmit the coronavirus to others if they're infected, even when no symptoms are present.

Getting your child immunized against COVID-19 vaccine also helps protect the health of others, including parents, grandparents, other family members, friends, classmates and the larger community.

Q: How many children get infected with COVID-19?

A: Children currently make up over 20-30% of COVID-19 cases in most provinces in Canada and is in the top 10 causes of death for kids. In Canada, approximately 2% of hospitalizations are children.

Q: How many kids have been involved in clinical trials for these two vaccine products?

A: Pfizer had 2,260 and Moderna had 3,235 participants. In the USA, 2.8 million doses of vaccines were given to kids under 18 (as of May 17, 2021).

Q: What side effects are most children experiencing after the vaccine?

A: The vaccine is well tolerated and most side effects are mild. These side effects include pain at the injection site, fatigue, headaches, chills, joint pain and muscle pain as well as fever.

Q: I've heard about heart problems in children following the COVID-19 vaccine. Is it safe to get my child immunized?

A: Any potential side effect is always of significant concern in children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported increasing reports of myocarditis and pericarditis after mRNA vaccination in the US. This side effect is extremely rare. Observed reports exceed expected cases after the second dose for individuals 12-39 years old. This includes 14.4 individuals per million for Pfizer and 19.7 individuals per million for Moderna.

According to the Canadian Pediatric Society Practice Point, reports of myocarditis and pericarditis following COVID-19 mRNA vaccination typically:

  • Are more commonly reported after the second dose
  • Have symptom onset within several days (peak 1-3 and up to 7 days) after vaccination
  • Occurs mainly in adolescents and young adults (<30 years of age)
  • Were more commonly in males than females
  • Characterized by mild illness, which responded well to conservative treatment and rest, with rapid resolution of symptoms.

If your child develops any of the following symptoms within a week of vaccination, seek medical care immediately:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling like your heart is beating fast, fluttering or pounding.

It's understandable that parents want to have as much information as possible before getting their child immunized. If you have questions, we recommend that you reach out to your child's pediatrician, your family physician, primary healthcare provider or call Health Link at 811 and talk to a registered nurse.

Please note that myocarditis and pericarditis are more commonly seen in children with COVID -19 disease than they are after vaccination.

Q: Why is natural immunity from a previous COVID-19 infection not adequate protection?

A: People with previous COVID-19 infection should receive a complete vaccine series at the recommended intervals. While having had the disease offers some protection against future infection, there's not enough data about that level of protection to know when it tapers off or how protective it is against new variants. Getting fully immunized offers the best protection possible from the virus.

Q: What are the ingredients in the vaccines?

A: A list of the ingredients in each vaccine can be found in the Canadian Immunization Guide or the vaccine's product monograph available through Health Canada's Drug Product Database. Or to go to the ingredients for a specific vaccine you can follow the links below:

Q: Does getting the vaccine help prevent you from passing on COVID-19 to others?

A: Immunization will greatly reduce your risk of becoming infected with COVID-19, and therefore, spreading the virus to other people. However, there is still a small chance that you can become infected even after being immunized. The vaccines being used in Alberta are good at protecting people from developing illness caused by COVID-19 but no vaccine is 100% effective.

While evidence on asymptomatic and variant transmission continues to be reviewed, it is important for immunized individuals to continue following public health measures to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.

The COVID-19 vaccines have also proven to be very effective at limiting the symptoms of those who get COVID-19 after being immunized; people who get COVID after receiving the vaccine are less likely to be hospitalized, for example

Learn more about the vaccines at Alberta.ca.