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COVID-19 vaccines for children and youth

Experts at McMaster Children’s Hospital encourage parents and guardians to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccines for youth ages 12 and up have been available since August 2021 and vaccines for children ages 5-11 have been available since November 2021. As of Friday, February 18, teens 12-17 can get a booster in Hamilton. You can walk in to most clinics for a shot, or book your appointment at www.hamilton.ca/GetYourVaccine.

The COVID vaccine is safe and effective for children and youth. Parents and children should lean on their healthcare providers, ask questions, and seek out high-quality and trusted information to help them make informed decisions about vaccinating their child and feel comfortable with their decision.

Browse the resources below to hear from our experts and learn more about the COVID vaccine for children and youth.

Children 6 months-4 years

September 9, 2022: McMaster Children’s Hospital child life specialist Tracy Akitt shares how parents can prepare to have their 6 month – 4 year old child vaccinated. Read and watch.

Children 5-11

Feb 18, 2022: The child life team at McMaster Children’s Hospital shares a resource called a kids vaccine passport to help kids prepare for their jab and make it a positive experience. Read more and download the passport.

January 2022: The Children’s Health Coalition launches a new campaign to help parents get up to speed on the COVID-19 vaccine for kids. Parents, have you done your homework?

Nov 22, 2021: Hamilton Health Sciences hematologist Dr. Menaka Pai encourages the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 – 11 as a physician, a parent and a community member. Read.

She also took to Twitter to help dispel misinformation on the COVID vaccine and provide trusted sources on multiple topics, each in an informative and entertaining thread of tweets. A Twitter account is not needed to view these links:

Nov 19, 2021: Tips for parents of children 5-11 to prepare for the vaccine, from child life specialist Tracy Akitt. Read and watch.

Nov 18, 2021: CBC News talks with the Rochwerg family about getting the vaccine for children. Watch.

Nov 17, 2021: Will these doctors have their own kids vaccinated against COVID? “Absolutely yes.” Read and watch.

Nov. 12, 2021: Infectious diseases specialist Dr. Jacqueline Wong and child life specialist Tracy Akitt discuss the COVID-19 vaccine for children 5-11 in CBC’s Facebook Live. Watch and read.

Nov. 4, 2021: Dr. Jeffrey Pernica, infectious diseases specialist at McMaster Children’s Hospital, answers some common questions about the COVID-19 vaccine for kids, including:

  • Why should children aged 5 to 11 get vaccinated?
  • How is this vaccine different from the adult vaccine?
  • If my child is turning 12 soon, should I wait for them to get the adult dose?
  • Is the dose given based on my child’s weight (like other medications)?
  • What are side effects for children?


Youth 12+

June 4, 2021: Tracy Akitt, certified child life specialist at McMaster Children’s Hospital, shares tips for youth who are preparing for the vaccine.

Side effects

Nov. 9, 2021: Dr. Jeffrey Pernica, infectious disease doctor at McMaster Children’s Hospital, answers questions about the COVID-19 vaccine side effects in kids. Watch and read.

Heart inflammation (myocarditis)

Nov. 9, 2021: Dr. Craig Ainsworth, cardiologist and director of the Cardiac Care Unit at Hamilton General Hospital, says people have a far greater chance of long-term health risks, hospitalization or even death from an actual COVID-19 infection than any potential rare side effect to the vaccine, including myocarditis or pericarditis. Watch and read.

Youth with autism and neurodevelopmental disabilities

June 3, 2021: Rebecca Ensor, clinical coordinator and behaviour analyst with McMaster Children’s Hospital’s Autism Program, shares tips for caregivers of youth with autism and neurodevelopmental disabilities.


Heightened emotions when talking about the vaccine

Oct. 26, 2021: It’s common to experience strong emotions as a result of conversations about the COVID vaccine. Diana Tikasz, resilience integration specialist at Hamilton Health Sciences, provides some advice. Read.

More resources