Hi! I’m Max the Vax. I’m here to help young people feel safe and protected from COVID-19. I want caregivers and the children they look after to be able to make informed, educated decisions about being vaccinated against COVID-19. I’ve got lots of resources and information to share with you, so let’s dive in!
I’m working with a team of Canadian physicians, scientists, and health care providers to share trusted, evidence-based content about COVID-19 and vaccines. You can also find us and more information from our friends and partners on the Instagram account @covidvaccinefacts.
This campaign is made possible through generous support from the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada.
We will update it regularly to make sure it has the best, up-to-date information.
No. But pretty much everyone agrees that if you can get vaccinated, you should. Some places might also soon require kids to have their COVID-19 vaccine to participate in things like sports, going to the movies, flying on a plane, and going to restaurants, like they do for youth 12+.
Yes. Just like some of the vaccines you had when you were a baby (like mumps and measles), you will need two shots to make sure you’re protected.
Almost! Some changes have been made to the vaccine so that it can be stored for longer but the ingredients that make the vaccine work are the same. Plus, the dose is smaller! Just like the vaccine for adults (and kids 12+!), there may be different brands of the vaccine available when it’s time for you to get your shot. The person giving you the shot will make sure you get the right one for you.
Right now, the recommendation is that the COVID-19 vaccine is given on its own. If you need other vaccines, they will be spaced out. Your health care provider can help you plan for when to get what.
Yes. Everyone does! Getting the vaccine is one of the best ways to protect yourself from COVID-19. Kids can get and spread COVID-19 and have symptoms that last for a long time. Getting your vaccine also adds to the total number of people with vaccines, which helps protect people who can get sick more easily like babies, grandparents, or people with cancer.
There is no minimum age to consent to treatment (including a vaccine!) in Ontario. If you can understand the pros and cons to the decision you are making, the law says you can make your own health care decisions. Reading this and talking to trusted adults is an important step towards understanding what it means to consent to the COVID-19 vaccine.
But, because of your age, 5- to 11-year-olds will not have the same capacity to make this decision and, in most cases, will need a parent/guardian to consent on your behalf.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t be involved! When you go for your vaccine, the person giving you your shot will tell you about it and ask if it’s okay before going ahead. You will also get a choice about things like what arm you would like it in. And you can ask as many questions as you want!
Yes! The vaccine has been tested a lot, is safe, and is being used around the world. Billions of people, including lots of kids 5+, have already had the vaccine.
The vaccine that kids will get is a mRNA vaccine. One of the smart things these vaccines do, is teach your body to make the antibodies that latch onto bits of the COVID-19 virus to stop them from infecting you. This video made for kids can tell you more about how it works: CLICK HERE
Some people say that it feels like a tiny pinch, but others say they can’t even feel it!
If needles make you worried, tell your caregiver and the person giving you the vaccine. They have lots of strategies to help. (Psstt…caregivers, read this from SKIP for some great tips and videos!)
After getting the vaccine, you may have some side effects like a sore arm or feeling tired the next day. If this happens, you can take medicine to help you feel better. Ask a grown up! Mild side effects are totally normal and mean that the vaccine is working. But a lot of kids don’t have any side effects, and that’s okay too!
Don’t forget! After getting your shot, you still need to wear a mask, wash your hands often, and practice social distancing. When even more people get vaccinated these rules will change — we can’t wait for that!
This FAQ is also available in four additional languages.
No. The vaccine does not alter genetics or hormones. The active ingredient in the vaccine is called mRNA. It gets broken down very quickly after it is injected and cannot access your child’s genetics. The COVID-19 vaccines do not affect puberty, the ability to have children, or your child’s hormones as it is not involved in these body systems.
Doctors and scientists are confident in the long-term safety of the COVID-19 vaccines for several reasons.
First, this is not new vaccine technology. Scientists have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades, including for flu, Zika, rabies, cytomegalovirus (CMV), and cancer treatments. Decades of studying mRNA have shown no long-term side effects.
Second, negative effects generally occur within six weeks of receiving the vaccine, and regulators in many countries required at least eight weeks of safety data. The vaccines have now been in use for many months with billions of doses administered around the world.
Third, we are very confident in the track record of Canada’s vaccine approval and safety monitoring system. This means that the end data and safety tests for COVID-19 vaccines are the same as other vaccines that have been approved in Canada over the last several decades. Canada’s system has proven time and again that the data necessary to get through the approval process is sufficient to prove safety, even for the long-term.
When considering long-term risks, a COVID-19 infection is a much more serious concern. The virus can cause long-term damage to lungs and other organs, as well as many other complications. This is called post-COVID-19 syndrome, or long COVID, and it’s one of the reasons why doctors recommend getting vaccinated.
In rare cases, some teens have experienced inflammation of the heart following immunization with a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine. Typically, this condition has been mild, and people respond well to treatment and make a full recovery. Symptoms of heart inflammation can include:
If your child experiences these symptoms, seek medical attention and inform the health care provider that your child recently received a COVID-19 vaccine.
Scientists will be watching closely to see if there are concerns about myocarditis or pericarditis for the 5-11 age group. In the Pfizer trial for this age group, no cases of myocarditis/pericarditis were observed up to three months after second vaccine doses.
Because the dose for this age group is lower and kids this young have a lower risk overall of getting myocarditis/pericarditis, pediatric infectious diseases experts predict post-vaccine myocarditis rates in the 5-11-year age group will be lower than in the young adult population. This is good news!
Yes. Children with other medical conditions such as Autism; ADHD; heart, lung, or kidney problems; or any other condition can safely receive the COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, kids with other medical issues may be at higher risk of complications from COVID-19, so it can be especially important to ensure they are vaccinated.
Yes! 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.
Yes. The COVID-19 vaccine does not interfere with other medications. Talk to your health care provider if you have more questions.
The initial recommendation is that first and second doses are spaced 8 weeks apart. This might change in the future as we learn from the real-world evidence gathered as more and more children are immunized.
This one is hard to answer. Approval has been submitted for a two-shot series for kids and, like adults, the third/booster situation will be decided in the months to come based on what COVID-19 decides to do next. Stay tuned!
Everyone in Ontario can get the COVID-19 vaccine for free! If you don’t have ID or an OHIP card, try checking in with the place you plan to get the vaccine ahead of time. If you can’t do that, let them know on the day and they will help you navigate through.
This FAQ is also available in four additional languages.
Here are some of our favourite resources to help understand the COVID-19 vaccine. There’s stuff for caregivers and for kids — click on “For Kids” or “For Caregivers” to see them all!
Updated: December 21, 2021
The Max the Vax sticker campaign was created to educate and increase vaccine confidence of children ages 5 to 11 and their caregivers. The campaign aims to create a playful and comfortable space for children and their families to learn about the COVID-19 vaccine, feel safe about vaccinations, and get a fun takeaway. The sticker is a way for young people to showcase their participation in the COVID-19 vaccine campaign and demonstrate pride for doing their part to protect others.
Are you a children’s services provider interested in joining the Max the Vax campaign? If so, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org the amount of stickers you’d like (500 or 1,000), the name of your organization, and your mailing address and we’ll send you a box of stickers to share with the 5 to 11 year olds you work with. The stickers are high-quality vinyl stickers.
We want to make sure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision about the COVID-19 vaccine for the children you care for. Let us know what questions you need answered or resources would help you feel better.
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