Page last updated: Sept 16, 2021
Are COVID-19 Vaccines Safe for Kids and Youth?
Youth will be offered the Pfizer vaccine, which is currently the only COVID-19 vaccine that has been authorized by Health Canada for use in individuals aged 12 and over. The COVID-19 vaccine has been thoroughly tested, and is safe. Vaccines are tested through rigorous clinical trials where thousands of people receive the vaccine, and the effectiveness of the vaccine, as well as any adverse effects, are reported. Health Canada reviews data from these clinical trials and determines if the benefits of the vaccines outweigh any potential risks. mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have gone through this process and have been authorized for use by Health Canada. Because of the pandemic, political leaders and scientists have been working very closely together to make COVID-19 vaccines a top priority. This has made it possible to develop safe and effective vaccines in record time. The following resources are available to help youth and families make informed decisions about COVID-19 vaccination:
- 3 Reasons to Get Vaccinated
- COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Youth
- COVID-19 Vaccine Consent form for Youth
- COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet for Youth
- Preparing for your Appointment – FAQ
- Worried About Your Appointment? Try the CARD Strategy
- Is the COVID-19 Vaccine Safe for Kids? – Ontario’s pediatricians answer frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine
- The Safety and Efficacy of COVID-19 Vaccines for Youth
- COVID-19 Vaccination Q&A for Students
Additional information about vaccine safety, potential side effects, and building immunity is available at covid-19.ontario.ca/covid-19-vaccines-youth
Age of vaccination consent
Under the Health Care Consent Act, be advised that there is no minimum age to provide consent. This means that your child can consent to be vaccinated without parental consent.
Health Care Consent Act
This act sets out certain rules on when consent is needed for treatment and how it must be obtained.
Vaccination is considered a treatment and requires consent. The consent must:
- Relate to the treatment being proposed
- Be informed
- Be voluntary, and not have been obtained through misrepresentation or fraud
Individuals who can give consent
A person is capable of giving consent to vaccination if they:
- Understand the information that’s important to making a decision concerning vaccination, and
- Understand the consequences of a decision or lack of a decision
Consent is informed, if before giving it:
- The person received information about the proposed treatment in the manner that any person in the same circumstances would require in order to make a decision, and
- The person received answers to their request for additional information about the proposed treatment
Individuals born in 2009 and earlier are eligible to receive their COVID-19 vaccine. For clinic dates and times, visit the Booking and Eligibility page.
Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?
The COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved in Canada have undergone the protocols of various levels of trials, following scientific processes and due diligence. All safety protocols have been followed and there have been no compromises in making the vaccine available to the general public. Vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to protect you and those around you from serious illnesses like COVID-19. Vaccines that have been approved in Canada include:
- Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine
- Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine
- AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine (Ontario has paused the administration of this vaccine for first doses out of an abundance of caution due to an observed increase in the rare blood clotting condition.
- Individuals may receive second doses of AstraZeneca with informed consent.
- Vaccine information is available for individuals who received a first dose of AstraZeneca.
- The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson, J&J) COVID-19 Vaccine
Only vaccines that are proven safe, effective, and of high quality will be approved for use in Canada. Learn about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, and vaccine authorization updates from the Government of Canada.
Is it safe to receive a different brand of vaccine for my second dose?
HPEPH clinics may offer Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to eligible individuals based on availability. All COVID-19 vaccines available in the province, have been determined to be safe and effective by Health Canada, and have been shown to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death associated with COVID-19.
- Individuals who received a first dose of AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD will be provided the option to receive an mRNA vaccine product for their second dose. NACI now recommends an mRNA Vaccine as a second dose for those who received AstraZeneca as a first dose. AstraZeneca vaccine will not be offered at HPEPH clinics.
- Individuals who received a first dose of the Moderna or Pfizer mRNA vaccines may receive either Moderna or Pfizer for their second dose. Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are interchangeable and NACI advises mRNA vaccines are safe to be used together in a vaccine schedule.
- Youth age 12-17 will receive Pfizer vaccine for both their first and second doses, as this is the only vaccine currently approved for this age group.
The best vaccine is the first vaccine that is available to you. To ensure maximum protection against COVID-19, HPEPH recommends booking your second dose appointment as soon as you are eligible, and to accept the vaccine that is offered.
You can also check out this great resource from the Ministry of Health for information on the safety of mixing vaccines.
Why should I get vaccinated?
Vaccines provide immunity and protect us, and our communities from contracting and spreading illness.
It is critical to get the COVID-19 vaccine, when your turn comes, so that you can protect yourself, your family, friends, and community from the infection. Widespread vaccination is essential to improve community immunity and end the pandemic. Even if you are not concerned about the virus, getting vaccinated will help stop the spread and protect those you love, who may be more vulnerable to severe illness or death.
While the COVID-19 vaccines have been developed in a short time frame they have undergone the protocols of various levels of trials, following scientific processes and due diligence. All safety protocols have been followed and there have been no compromises in making the vaccine available to the general public.
For more information, review the Facts About Vaccines, from Health Canada.
Should I be concerned about potential side effects?
Potential mild side effects of COVID-19 vaccines include mild reactions such as headache, fever, fatigue or pain at the injection site.
On May 11, the province announced a pause in the rollout and administration of first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. This decision was made out of an abundance of caution due to an observed increase in the rare blood clotting condition, known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine. The province is reviewing data in collaboration with health experts at Public Health Ontario, the Science Advisory Table and our federal, provincial and territorial partners, to consider options for the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for second doses and more broadly moving forward. Data from the UK points to a much-reduced risk of VITT in second doses of AstraZeneca, and we look forward to receiving direction from the province regarding individuals waiting for their second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Those who received their first dose with the AstraZeneca vaccine did absolutely the right thing to prevent illness, and to protect their families, loved ones and communities.
Are you Pregnant or Breastfeeding?
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) supports the use of all available COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada in any trimester of pregnancy and during breastfeeding if clients are eligible and no contraindications exist. Please see this HPEPH document on vaccination risks and benefits.
Information about COVID-19 Vaccination and Fertility
- FAQ COVID-19 Vaccination and Fertility – HPEPH
- COVID-19 Vaccines for People Who Would Like to Have a Baby – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive? Answers to your COVID-19 vaccine questions – Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
When and where can I get vaccinated?
Currently, all Ontarians turning 12 and older in 2021 can book an appointment for COVID-19 vaccination. Visit our Bookings and Eligibility page to find out when and where you can book an appointment for vaccination.
- Understanding COVID-19 Vaccines – HPEPH
- FAQ About Vaccines and Prioritization – HPEPH
- Vaccination Recommendations for Priority Populations (including pregnant and immunocompromised) – Ontario Ministry of Health
- Pregnancy Decision Toolkit – Ministry of Health
- Decision Aid for Getting a Vaccine – Canadian Rheumatology Association
- Health Care Worker Prioritization – Ontario Ministry of Health
- What You Need to Know About Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine – St. Michael’s Unity Health Toronto
- What You Need to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines – First Nations Health Authority
- COVID-19 Vaccines Factsheet – HPEPH
- COVID-19 Vaccines in Ontario – Ontario Ministry of Health
- COVID-19: How vaccines are developed – Public Health Agency of Canada
- What You Need to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccines for Canada – Health Canada
- COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Individuals that received a first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine/COVISHIELD vaccine – Ministry of Health
Please check back for regular updates as more details are available.