Conversation Guide: How to talk to your children about the COVID-19 vaccine
With the approval of a COVID-19 vaccine for children over the age of 5, your child(ren) might have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. Public Health Sudbury & District has created a conversation guide to help you have constructive conversations with your children. Conversations about the COVID-19 vaccine should include what is COVID-19, how the vaccines work, and its safety and effectiveness.
Before talking with your children about the COVID-19 vaccine make sure you have the facts. Making sure you have accurate information before talking to your children will ensure you can answer their questions. The Government of Ontario has created a child and youth fact sheet (Government of Ontario, PDF) and other informational resources (Government of Ontario).
Visit our COVID-19 vaccine resources page for more information about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Check in with your kids
Ask your child(ren) how they are feeling and check in with them. Are they excited, scared or curious about the vaccine? Reassure them all these feelings are normal. Encourage your children to share what they have heard about the vaccine. When having these conversations make sure you give your child(ren) your full attention and take their concerns and feelings seriously. Children often take their emotional cues from adults, if you are calm and confident your child(ren) will mirror your emotions. Let your child(ren) know they can come to you or another trusted adult with any questions about COVID-19 and the vaccine.
When answering your child(ren)’s questions always be honest. You can answer their questions in an age-appropriate way while still being honest. If you don’t know the answer to one of their questions don’t guess! This is a great learning opportunity to explore answers together. There are many credible sources of information to explore together such as Health Canada (Government of Canada), Public Health Agency of Canada (Government of Canada), Government of Ontario (Government of Ontario), and Public Health Ontario (Government of Ontario).
Answer their questions
Your child(ren) will most likely have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on their age you should tailor your responses to be age appropriate. Your child might have heard misinformation about the vaccines from others. It is important you are ready to counter any misinformation. Children are full of questions, here are some answers to questions your child(ren) might have:
What is a vaccine?
How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?
When can I get the vaccine?
I’m scared of getting the COVID-19 vaccine, do I have to get one?
Prepare them for their appointment
The CARD system can help prepare your children for their vaccine appointment. CARD stands for Comfort, Ask, Relax, and Distract this system can provide your youth with coping strategies they can use before and during their vaccination. There are many videos you can view to help your children get ready for their appointment, such as this one produced by TVO Kids. Public Health Sudbury & District has also created a checklist to help get you and your children ready for their vaccination.
Before an individual, including children and youth, can receive the COVID-19 vaccine informed consent must be provided. If an individual is unable to provide informed consent, their parent or guardian must provide it on their behalf.
Parents or substitute decision makers of children aged 5 to 11 will usually have to provide consent on behalf of their child at the time of the appointment or fill out a paper consent form for their child. The consent form (Government of Ontario, PDF) must be completed before vaccination can occur.
This item was last modified on December 22, 2021