The detailed plan for vaccinations for 5 to 11 year olds is available on the Saskatchewan government website. 

Last Reviewed

24 Nov 2021 

Fortunately, COVID-19 has spared the majority of young kids from getting really sick. However, there have been kids that have gotten very ill from the virus. The risk may be lower, but the risk is still there, and COVID-19 infection can be scary.  

The benefit of vaccines are that our kids can get protection without ever having to risk the serious consequences of getting sick with COVID-19. Especially with a virus like COVID-19, as we can’t predict the severity of symptoms. 

Here is a list of benefits to consider: 

  • Vaccines offer protection from COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, severe outcomes, and death.    
    • As of mid-November 2021, 20% of COVID-19 cases in Canada are kids under the age of 19.  
    • COVID-19 can cause long term effects in kids. Research from the UK suggested that approximately 1 in 10 school aged kids had symptoms for more than 4 weeks after being infected with COVID-19.  
    • COVID-19 may lead to multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) – a condition where different parts of the body become inflamed.
    • As of mid October 2021, 272 cases of MIS-C have been reported in kids under the age of 19 in Canada.
    • Severe outcomes aren’t predictable and can occur in healthy children. Many kids that have been hospitalized had no pre-existing health conditions.
  • Kids transmit and spread the COVID-19 virus.  And it’s tricky, because kids transmit and spread the COVID-19 virus even if they don’t have symptoms. Vaccines reduce transmission.  
  • Vaccinating our kids gets us closer to herd immunity and community protection. Protecting our kids helps us protect our families and our communities. Protecting our kids means protecting their teachers, their classmates, their coaches, their grandparents.    
  • Kids need to get back to the things that COVID-19 has taken away from them and the things they love. Many of these things are important for their mental health and social development.

It can be tough in these times of uncertainty and rapidly changing information, but trust the healthcare professionals and the people that have taken care of you and your kids. Vaccination is a safe way of protecting kids from the risks of COVID-19 infection while also protecting the people around them.  

References

Last Reviewed

19 Nov 2021

Yes. What we know from adults and adolescents is that we don’t know how long immunity from infection will last, and the immune response from infections varies from one person to the next. Some people do not make long lived immune responses. We also know that vaccines produce better protection against some of the variants circulating. Getting your kid vaccinated will boost their immune response and potentially provide improved protection against variants.  

The trials in kids 5-11 did include kids that had previously been infected with COVID. In addition, kids and adolescents and adults 12 and up that have previously had COVID-19 infections have been receiving vaccinations since they were approved for use with no serious safety signals being reported.   

Reference  

Last Reviewed

18 Nov 2021 

Both myocarditis and pericarditis have been reported with COVID-19 mRNA vaccination.   

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle and pericarditis is inflammation of the lining around the heart.   

Cases that have been reported with COVID-19 vaccination tend to be: 

  • More often after the second dose.
  • Usually within a week after vaccination.
  • More often in males than females and more often in 12-30 years old.  
  • Highest incidence in males aged 16-17 years old. Risk decreases in occurrence down to age 12, therefore, risk in 5-11 year olds is expected to be lower.

Early data suggests a higher rate reported after vaccination with Moderna compared to Pfizer, but the research is ongoing. This may be due to the difference in doses. Data from older age groups also suggests that an interval longer than 21 days between 1st and 2nd dose may also be associated with a reduced risk of myocarditis.

Myocarditis and pericarditis can be caused by a number of things including viral infection, bacterial infection, health conditions, and other medications.   

We have learned that there are different types of myocarditis: 

  • classic myocarditis or “pre COVID-19” myocarditis
  • COVID-19 infection related myocarditis
  • MIS-C myocarditis – MIS-C is an inflammatory illness that has been associated with COVID-19 infection
  • COVID-19 vaccine related myocarditis

COVID-19 vaccine related myocarditis tends to have milder symptoms and resolves much more quickly than the other types of myocarditis. It is treated with anti-inflammatory medications, and hospitalizations are usually short (a day or so) and usually just to keep an eye on the patient. The risk of damage to the heart is much greater with COVID-19 infection myocarditis than it is with vaccine related myocarditis.   

There are a few reasons why kids 5-11 years old might be at a lower risk for myocarditis: 

  • Lower incidence in 12-15 years olds versus 16-17 year olds. 
  • Lower dose – we are unsure if dose is related to risk of myocarditis, but it may explain why more cases have been seen with Moderna/Spikevax compared to Pfizer/Comirnaty.  
  • Testosterone is thought to play a role in myocarditis. Since younger kids haven’t hit puberty, this may mean a lower risk.  

We have also learned about the symptoms to watch out for and when to seek medical attention. The symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath and heart palpitations. With medical attention, most people that developed myocarditis following COVID-19 vaccination had a quick recovery.   

When considering the risk of myocarditis, it is important to consider the risk of developing myocarditis from COVID-19 infection. The risk of myocarditis with COVID-19 infection may be as high as 450 cases per million infections in males aged 12-17. The rate of myocarditis with mRNA vaccine in 12-17 yo males is around 66.7 cases per million doses.   

Myocarditis can be a scary risk, but it is a very small risk and manageable risk.

References 

Last Reviewed

19 Nov 2021 

  • Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) is an illness where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal tract.   
  • MIS-C has been associated with COVID-19 infection. It generally occurs about 4 weeks after infection with COVID-19. The initial symptoms include fever, rash, diarrhea, and vomiting.   

  • MIS-C is rare and treatable. Most kids that get it will eventually get better with medical care, but it can make some kids very sick and be quite dangerous.   

  • MIS-C usually affects school-age children. 

  • MIS-C is a possible complication of COVID-19 infection that parents and caregivers should consider when weighing the risk versus benefit of vaccination. Vaccination is a safe way of preventing COVID-19 infection and the possible complications associated with COVID-19 infection. 

  • MIS-C has not been shown to be a complication from the COVID-19 vaccine. It was one of the rare adverse effects that was being monitored in the clinical trials that were done when testing the COVID-19 vaccine in kids.     

References  

Last Reviewed

18 Nov 2021 

Yes. Symptoms of long COVID include fatigue, muscle and joint pain, headache, trouble sleeping, trouble concentrating, and cough. Research from the UK suggested that approximately 1 in 10 school aged kids had symptoms for more than 4 weeks after being infected with COVID-19, and 7-8% of kids with COVID-19 reported symptoms longer than 12 weeks after being diagnosed.  Long COVID can occur after both mild and severe infections. Long COVID can affect mental health, day-to-day function, and school attendance. 

The risk of long COVID is a reason to consider vaccination. 

References

Last Reviewed

18 Nov 2021 

There has been a lot of information shared about something called VITT, which is vaccine induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia, and it's a condition of blood clots plus low platelets, that occurs following viral vector vaccines. In Canada, the viral vector vaccines are AstraZeneca, COVISHIELD, and Johnson and Johnson.  There haven't been any reports of blood clots with low platelets or VITT reported in people that have received mRNA vaccines, like the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. There have been blood clots reported, but at a similar rate to what the usual occurrence of blood clots is. Getting an mRNA vaccine, like the Pfizer vaccine does not put anyone at a higher risk for blood clots.  

Reference

Last Reviewed

18 Nov 2021 

Last Reviewed

18 Nov 2021

Long term side effects are very unlikely to occur because of how our immune system works and because of how vaccines work. The use of vaccines can be traced back to the 18th century and many of the vaccines we use today have been in use for decades. And yes, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are new, but researchers have been studying mRNA vaccines for flu, Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus. The first use of an mRNA vaccine can be traced back to the early 1990’s. mRNA technology is also used in cancer treatment research.  

Here’s a few key points about long term vaccine side effects: 

  • Most of the ingredients in vaccines break down very quickly, and do not stick around in the body. 
  • Most side effects occur because our immune system is responding to the vaccine. 
  • Most side effects occur within the first 6-8 weeks after vaccination. 
  • Vaccines are continually being monitored on many different levels including further research and ongoing surveillance. When rare side effects happen, they are identified and responded to.   

References

  • Scienceupfirst.  Concerned about Long-Term Side Effects of the COVID-19 vaccines?  2 Nov 2021.  Available from: https://www.instagram.com/p/CVx2_D7rmzD/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link 
  • Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.  Understanding mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines.  3 Nov 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mrna.html 
  • Plotkin S. History of vaccination. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Aug 26;111(34):12283-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1400472111. Epub 2014 Aug 18. PMID: 25136134; PMCID: PMC4151719.
  • Kim YK. RNA Therapy: Current Status and Future Potential. Chonnam Medical Journal. 2020 May;56(2):87-93. DOI: 10.4068/cmj.2020.56.2.87. PMID: 32509554; PMCID: PMC7250668.
  • Stone Jr CA, Rukasin CR, Beachkofsky TM, Phillips EJ. Immune‐mediated adverse reactions to vaccines. British journal of clinical pharmacology. 2019 Dec;85(12):2694-706. 
Last Reviewed

18 Nov 2021 

No. Vaccines cannot replicate (or make copies of) the coronavirus. Vaccines only provide instructions to our bodies to make the spike protein that is present on the virus, but they do not actually make the virus.   

Viruses constantly change through mutation. These changes lead to variants of the original virus – some variants disappear quickly while others have advantages that cause them to stick around. Variants develop when the virus infects someone, and then starts to replicate (or make copies of) itself. Mutations (or mistakes) can happen when these copies are being made, which leads to a variant of the original virus.  Variants can develop when the virus is able to spread and replicate quickly.  More infections = more replication = more mutations = more variants. The way to stop the development of variants is to stop the spread of the virus.   

References   

Last Reviewed

18 Nov 2021 

  • Yes. The pediatric COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time or any time before or after other vaccines.
  • NACI recommends at this time, to separate COVID-19 vaccine from all other vaccines because of limited evidence and to make it easier if a patient experiences an adverse if effect to a particular vaccine.
  • However, in Saskatchewan, for those 5 to 11 years old, Health Canada approved COVID-19 vaccines can be given  with other vaccines; no intervals are required before or after COVID-19 vaccine administration.

References 

Last Reviewed

19 Nov 2021 

  • Talk to your kids. Start having the conversations with your younger kids if you haven’t already. By giving them the information first, you get control over the information they are receiving.  
  • Give your kids age-appropriate information about the “W’s” of COVID-19 and vaccines:
    • What is COVID, what’s happening in our province and country and world with COVID-19
    • Why we give vaccines
    • Who else has received vaccines
    • Where they will be able to get a vaccine and when it might be their turn
  • Encourage kids to come home and talk to you about what they hear at school and from other friends or families.   
  • Don't dismiss what your kid is saying to you. Validate their concerns, have a discussion, and answer their questions. Kids that don’t feel like we're answering their questions may not come to us with more questions as they get older.  
  • Be curious and find information together. If you don't know the answer or are hearing rumors, look it up together using trustworthy resources. This teaches our kids how to find safe information in general. Make sure to use a reputable source: ask experts that you trust. An option is to book an appointment with their family doctor or pediatrician to talk about it so that they're getting that information from a safe and trusted source.
Here are some links to great information from reliable sources: 

Reference 

  • Dr. A Kurji, Dr. M Brindamour, Dr. M Sarda.  Safe Schools Saskatchewan.  Children and Vaccines Town Hall Oct 13, 2021.  Available from:  https://youtu.be/bmg_OdgOXI8
Last Reviewed

18 Nov 2021 

Here are some excellent resources to help: 

Last Reviewed

18 Nov 2021

mRNA COVID-19 vaccines do not contain aborted fetal cells. Fetal cell lines were used in the early development of mRNA vaccines, but fetal cell lines are different from actual fetal cells. Fetal cell lines have been grown in labs for decades and the cells used today do not contain fetal tissue. It is true that fetal tissue obtained in the 1970’s and 1980’s was used to originally start the cell lines.    

References 

Last Reviewed

18 Nov 2021 

  • In answering this question, it's important to understand the science behind mRNA vaccines. The mRNA vaccines work similarly to other vaccines that are being used today. Vaccines help our immune system to recognize viruses so that our bodies are better able to respond to the threat of an infection.  
  • To understand how vaccines work, it helps to understand how infections work. When someone gets a virus, the virus infects the other cells in our body and as part of the invasion, the virus causes our cells to make more and more virus. Our immune system starts to recognize the virus as foreign, and attacks against the virus. We recover from the virus but our immune system keeps a memory of what happened so that if it sees the virus again, it can remember how to attack and prevent the virus from causing severe infection.  
  • COVID-19 has a protein on the outside of it called the spike protein, and that is what allows it to get into our cells. The spike protein is what makes COVID-19 especially infectious. Scientists saw this spike protein as a good target for our immune systems to recognize when they started to look at making a vaccine.  
  • What is a bit different from other vaccines that are being used today is the use of mRNA in some COVID-19 vaccines. The use of mRNA isn’t new: scientists have been researching how mRNA can be used in medicine for many years. In fact, research into using mRNA specifically for vaccines started as early as the 1990s and the first clinical trial of an mRNA vaccine started in 2006.   
  • mRNA is messenger RNA, it's not DNA, and it doesn't combine with DNA to change genetics. Rather, it's a messenger, so it's like an email or a text message being sent to your body to turn on the immune system. The mRNA in the COVID-19 vaccines serves as a very specific email or message with specific instructions on how to make the spike protein. The mRNA enters immune cells, the cells read the instructions and make the protein. Our immune system recognises these proteins as foreign and responds by sending out antibodies. These antibodies are what protect us. Our body remembers the protein and how it responded with antibodies, which is typically what our immune system does anytime it comes across something foreign, whether it is from an infection or a vaccine. This process teaches our body how to respond if we actually come into contact with the COVID-19 virus, and we can mount that immune response.  

  • The immune response to a COVID-19 vaccine is similar to what would happen if we actually got an infection. The difference is that the vaccine doesn’t come with the symptoms and potential complications that an infection with COVID-19 does.  

  • The mRNA in COVID-19 vaccines is very specific to only make this specific spike protein. The mRNA doesn’t enter the part of our cells where DNA is stored. And the thing about mRNA is that it doesn't stick around in the body. It isn't very stable. It breaks down very quickly and within two to three days, it's gone from the body. Long term complications are not possible because the mRNA and all the other vaccine components are quickly eliminated from the body, and the only thing that remains is our immune system memory.   

References 

  • Dr. A Kurji, Dr. M Brindamour, Dr. M Sarda.  Safe Schools Saskatchewan.  Children and Vaccines Town Hall Oct 13, 2021.  Available from:  https://youtu.be/bmg_OdgOXI8   
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Understanding mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines.  3 Nov 2021.  Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mrna.html   
  • Kim YK. RNA therapy: current status and future potential. Chonnam medical journal. 2020 May;56(2):87.
  • Weide B, Carralot JP, Reese A, et al. Results of the first phase I/II clinical vaccination trial with direct injection of mRNA. Journal of immunotherapy. 2008 Feb 1;31(2):180-8. 
Last Reviewed

18 Nov 2021