Vaccination, including the COVID-19 and flu vaccine, is one of the best ways to protect our families, communities and ourselves against respiratory viruses. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.
The Ontario Ministry of Health recommends:
Routine childhood vaccination is still important during COVID-19. Vaccines should only be delayed if your child has COVID-19 symptoms. Learn more about routine immunizations for children.
The COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time as (i.e same day) or any time before or after a different vaccine. Speak to a health care provider about the benefits and risks.
As of July 7, 2023, the Ontario Ministry of Health recommends bivalent Omicron-containing mRNA vaccines to start or complete a primary series for everyone six months of age and older.
Bivalent means that the vaccine targets two strains of COVID-19 – the original strain and Omicron. The bivalent vaccines can give better protection against Omicron variants.
For children ages six months to four years, the bivalent Moderna vaccine is the only bivalent product available. Children must be at least six months old at the time of vaccination.
Children and youth who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should receive a three dose primary series.
According to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), children who are immunocompromised may benefit from getting a bivalent Moderna dose rather than a bivalent Pfizer dose. Informed consent is recommended.
Health Canada has also approved Novavax, a protein subunit vaccine, for youth aged 12 and older who are not able or willing to receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. However, this vaccine is currently not available.
To further improve protection and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, NACI and the Ontario Ministry of Health have recommended 8 weeks as the best interval between doses in the primary series. .
As an added safety measure, children who experience myocarditis/pericarditis after receiving their first dose of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine are recommended to delay 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.
For more information on vaccine use by age, visit: COVID-19: Vaccine Eligibility & Doses – City of Toronto
Boosters are not currently available for children six months to four years of age. Everyone five years and older should complete a primary series. Booster doses will be available in fall 2023.
Learn more about booster doses.
Even with mild symptoms, children can develop a condition called long COVID where they have symptoms weeks or months after getting COVID-19.
Staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccines is the best way to protect children and the people around them from COVID-19 related illness, hospitalization and death.
Vaccinating children helps:
The more children who are vaccinated, the safer childcare/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.
Common COVID-19 side effects in young children are like those seen in adults. Side effects are usually mild and go away within one to three days. They include:
The vaccine continues to be safe. The risk of myocarditis or pericarditis in children following vaccination is rare.
More information on myocarditis and pericarditis:
There is no evidence the COVID-19 vaccines impact fertility, long-term menstrual irregularities, puberty, or normal growth and development.
Children with allergies can receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Children with severe allergies to food, medications, and insect bites should all be vaccinated. If your child has had a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine or medical product, or if you have other questions about allergic reactions, speak to your health care provider before getting the shot.
Children who have had MIS-C should wait to be vaccinated for at least 90 days after diagnosis (NACI 2021).
Even with a previous COVID-19 infection, people who have not started/completed their primary series or those who are eligible for a booster dose, are still strongly recommended to complete their COVID-19 series. Immunity from an infection may not last and you can get COVID-19 again. For recommendations on when to get a COVID-19 vaccine, see Previous COVID-19 Infection.
Vaccination clinics are available for children and their families at:
Children and youth without OHIP cards, may get vaccinated at any COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Toronto. For details, see residents without OHIP Cards.
SickKids can help coordinate their COVID-19 vaccination appointment and offer specialized services with the availability of Child Life Specialists and paediatric vaccinators.
Children 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 TPS by:
Learn more at eligibility for homebound vaccinations.
Routine immunization for infants and toddlers is still important during COVID-19. Vaccine preventable diseases are still spreading globally. Waiting to vaccinate can leave children vulnerable to diseases. Vaccines should only be postponed if your child is sick with respiratory symptoms to prevent any possible spread of COVID-19.
Children six months and older may receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as, or at any time before or after any other vaccines, including the flu shot.
For more details, see:
Vaccines given with a needle can be painful and frightening for a child. Parents play an important role in supporting their children during immunizations. The following resources can be helpful to use, before, during and after the visit to make the process less stressful.
It is important to share information in an age-appropriate way with your child about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines.
For more information:
The following resources may be helpful to answer questions you or your child has about the COVID-19 vaccine.