COVID-19 vaccines for children

ATAGI recommends that everyone aged 5 years and older gets a COVID-19 vaccine to help protect against COVID-19. Children aged 6 months to under 5 years who are at greater risk of severe disease are also eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.

Who is eligible

Vaccination is recommended for everyone in Australia aged 5 years and over.

Vaccination is also recommended for children aged 6 months to under 5 years who are severely immunocompromised, or have disability, as well as those who have complex and/or multiple health conditions that increase their risk of severe COVID-19.

Read the full ATAGI statement on vaccination for children aged 6 months to under 5 years.

A COVID-19 booster dose is recommended for people aged 5-15 who:

  • are severely immunocompromised, or
  • have a disability with significant or complex health needs, or
  • have complex, or multiple health conditions that increase the risk of severe COVID-19.

Read more about booster doses for children aged 5 to 11 years, and adolescents aged 12 to 15 years.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe for children

Results of a recent clinical trial demonstrate that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are highly effective and that most side effects are mild and short-term.

The TGA carefully evaluated available data for both vaccines to support their safety and efficacy among children.

COVID-19 vaccine safety data from AusVaxSafety shows that 5 to 11 year olds are reporting fewer short-term vaccine side effects than those reported by older Australians. 

Finding credible information

You can find information and references to clinical trials and real-world studies ATAGI clinical guidelines.

We also have a collection of resources for parents and children about COVID-19 vaccines.

Booking an appointment for your child

You can use the COVID-19 vaccine clinic finder to book a vaccination appointment for your child.

Find a clinic and book

If you can’t find an appropriate appointment, check back regularly as more appointments will become available. Not all vaccine providers will offer Pfizer or Moderna for children.

Check your local state or territory health department's website for more information on getting vaccinated locally.

Reactions to the vaccine

Children may experience some side effects after vaccination. Most side effects last no more than a couple of days and they will recover quickly. Common reactions to vaccination include:

  • pain, redness and/or swelling where they received the needle
  • mild fever
  • headache
  • fatigue (children aged 6 months to 5 years).

If you have any concerns you can use the Heathdirect symptom checker.

Children need to complete their primary course

It is important children complete their primary course, as having all the doses recommended for their age and health needs will extend their protection against COVID-19.

For most children, this will be 2 vaccine doses given 8 weeks apart.

For children with immunocompromise, or children who are aged 6 months to 4 years receiving the Pfizer vaccine, this will be 3 doses.

The interval can be shortened to a minimum of 3 weeks for Pfizer, and 4 weeks for Moderna, in special circumstances – for example, if your child is identified as a subgroup at risk of moderate or severe COVID-19 during a local outbreak, before your child starts any immunosuppressive treatment or prior to overseas travel overseas.

Your provider will advise if your child’s second or third dose should be given earlier.

If your child has had COVID-19

If your child has had COVID-19 you should wait 3 months after the confirmed infection before they have a COVID-19 vaccine dose.

This is to optimise their vaccine protection. A longer gap between infection and vaccination is likely to lead to a better immune response and result in longer protection from reinfection.

The next scheduled dose of COVID-19 vaccine should be given as soon as possible after 3 months. Your child should still have all the recommended doses.

If your child has had COVID-19, you do not need to defer other vaccinations – for example, the flu vaccine. But they should not get any vaccine if they are acutely unwell (e.g., have a fever).

COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines

Children aged 5 to 11

If your child has had COVID-19, you do not need to defer other vaccinations – for example, the flu vaccine. But they should not get any vaccine if they are acutely unwell (e.g., have a fever).

Children aged 6 months to under 5 years

You should wait 7-14 days between your child’s COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines to minimise the risk of adverse events such as fever.

The COVID-19 vaccine can be administered with other vaccines in special circumstances, such as with outreach programs to remote areas, or children receiving complicated catch-up schedules.

Dosage amount for children

Unlike many medications, COVID-19 vaccine dosage does not vary by patient weight, but by age on the day of vaccination. 

This is similar to other routinely recommended vaccines, like flu or hepatitis vaccines.

Vaccines are generally based on the developmental stage, or age of the immune system in a younger person rather than weight.

See information on COVID-19 vaccines.

Children who turn 5, 6 or 12 between doses

Children should receive the appropriate brand and dose of vaccine according to their age on the day of vaccination.For example:

  • children who turn 6 after their first dose of the children’s Moderna vaccine (for children 6 months to 5 years) should receive half the adult dose of Moderna for their second dose, as recommended for children aged 6 to 11 years
  • children who turn 12 after their first dose of Pfizer vaccine (for children 5 to 11) or first dose of Moderna vaccine (for children 6 to 11) should receive Pfizer or Moderna vaccine (for adolescents/adults 12 years and over) to complete their primary course.
  • Children who turn 5 after their first or second dose of Pfizer vaccine (for children aged 6 months to 4 years) should receive Pfizer vaccine (for children 5 to 11) for the remaining dose to complete their primary course.

Consent

You may be asked to sign a consent form so your child can be vaccinated.

In general, a parent or legal guardian of a child has the authority to consent to vaccination. In some states and territories, older adolescents may be able to provide their own consent.

Your child’s COVID-19 vaccine will be recorded on their Immunisation History Statement.

More information about consent is available in the Australian Immunisation Handbook.

You can check with your state or territory health authority about these laws.

View our patient resources.

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Kids will always be kids, so let’s protect them against serious illness from COVID-19 with a vaccination.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has rigorously assessed the COVID-19 vaccines approved for children in Australia for quality, safety, and effectiveness.

Book your child in today.

Authorised by the Australian Government Canberra.

0:30

How do you catch a virus? 

When it’s cold out, we spend more time indoors 

So here’s a list of reminders

How to stay well inside between four walls

Get vaccinated if you can 

Stay at home when you feel bad 

Think about how close you stand 

Don’t forget to wash your hands 

And I’ll do the same, cause I got you.

Childhood immunisation community kit

This stakeholder kit offers a range of activities to help children learn how to stay safe from viral infections like COVID-19, with helpful information for parents and guardians about the importance of all childhood vaccinations.
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