Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in children

Key points about the COVID-19 vaccine in children

  • Immunisation against COVID-19 is an important way we keep our tamariki safe.
  • It protects them from many serious complications of COVID-19 infection and stops disease spreading within your whānau and the community.
  • Here are common questions about the COVID-19 vaccine in children.
blue unaunahi tile generic
Print this page

From the age of 6 months tamariki can get the COVID-19 vaccine, BUT the type of vaccine (child Pfizer, adult Pfizer or Novavax) and number of doses needed depends on your child's age and if they have other health problems.

Note: The children’s version of the Pfizer vaccine is a lower dose and a smaller volume than the adult version. It's also given using a smaller needle.

Ages 6 months to 4 years

Only severely immunocompromised tamariki, or tamariki with complex medical conditions, can be immunised against COVID-19 under the age of 5 years.

Ages 5 to 11 years

Tamariki of this age can be protected against COVID-19 with 2 child doses of the child Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least 8 weeks apart.

  • A shorter gap may be needed for children most at risk of severe disease or hospitalisation if disease surges. Discuss with your healthcare provider.
  • This age group is not eligible for a booster.
  • Note: If your child turns 12 between receiving their first and second dose, they will then receive the adult dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for their second dose. This is to ensure they are fully protected with vaccine doses appropriate for their age.  

Ages 12 to 15 years

  • Young people aged 12 to 15 are eligible for 2 full adult doses of either the Pfizer vaccine or the Novavax vaccine
  •  at 3 weeks or more apart.
  • They're not eligible for a booster.

Ages 16 and 17 years

  • Young people of this age can get 2 adult doses of either the Pfizer or Novavax vaccine (3 weeks apart).
  • They can also get a Pfizer booster if it’s been at least 6 months since the last dose. 

For ages 18 years and over, see COVID-19 vaccine topics.  

6 months to 4 years who are severely immunocompromised

Vaccination is recommended for tamariki who are severely immunocompromised (have a weakened immune system), or who have complex and/or multiple health conditions (comorbidities) because they are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. 

Note: Children aged 6 months to 4 years who don't have these health conditions have a very low chance of severe illness from COVID-19 infection and are therefore not eligible to have the vaccine. If you don't know if your child is eligible, contact your healthcare provider.

5 years and older

COVID-19 is generally mild in children, with symptoms similar to a cold, but, some children become very sick and need to go to hospital. Rare complications can include Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C), which may require intensive care. This age group can also suffer long-term side effects (known as long COVID), even after mild cases of COVID-19.

If your child is infected with COVID-19, they may pass on the virus to other people. Immunising children 5 years and older also helps protect whānau members whose health makes them more vulnerable to COVID-19. Read more about protecting your tamariki from COVID-19.(external link)

Not every vaccination site has the children's Pfizer vaccine, but there are lots of ways to find a site convenient for you.

  • To check where the nearest vaccination site is to you, search the vaccination site map(external link). Make sure you search the correct age band.
  • Book an appointment through Book My Vaccine(external link)– make sure you select the right age-band
  • Book over the phone – call the COVID Vaccination Healthline team on 0800 28 29 26 (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week). 
  • Contact your usual healthcare provider, hauora, pharmacy or general practice to find out if they are offering COVID-19 vaccines for children.

Yes, your child should start, or continue, with their vaccinations 6 months after they have had a COVID infection.

Being infected with COVID-19 does not provide the same level of protection as vaccination. Getting your COVID-19 vaccinations is your best defence against COVID-19 and can help protect you against future variants of COVID-19. 

The Pfizer vaccine is a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine. It doesn't contain any live virus, or dead or deactivated virus, and can't give your child COVID-19 or affect their DNA. Read more about the paediatric Pfizer vaccine.(external link)  

Image credit: Health Navigator NZ

  • Children younger than 12 years: A parent, caregiver or legal guardian will need to be with your child as the responsible adult, and provide consent for them to be vaccinated. At the appointment both the adult and child can ask as many questions as they like.
  • 12–15 years: While young people aged 12 and above have the right to give their own consent, it is recommended that they discuss vaccination with their parents, whānau or a trusted adult. A health professional will also discuss the vaccine with them before they get vaccinated and answer any questions they have. If they have a good understanding, they can say yes or no to getting the vaccine. If they’d prefer, a parent or caregiver can provide consent instead. Read more about COVID-19 vaccine informed consent for young people aged 12-15 years.(external link)

Video: Why it is important for tamariki to be immunised

(Health NZ | Te Whatu Ora, 2022)

It's important to prepare your child for their vaccination. Here are a few ways you can prepare them: 

  • Explain to your child why they are getting the vaccine using words that the child can understand, eg, “the vaccine will protect you from getting sick and keep you healthy.” Older children may understand the concept of immunity, eg, “it helps your body build immunity to fight off infections.” Most children are pleased to learn, too, that they are doing something good for the community – for their friends and classmates.
  • It is not recommended you give pain relievers before vaccination to try to prevent side effects.
  • Tell the doctor or nurse about any allergies your child may have.
  • Keep your child relaxed and make sure they have had something to eat and drink before their vaccination.
  • Check they’re wearing clothes that make it easy to see and access their upper arm.
  • If your child is a little nervous, you're welcome to take something to the appointment that will distract them, eg, a soft toy, phone or some music.

Video: Ways to talk and to prepare your tamariki for immunisation

(Te Wha

(Health NZ | Te Whatu Ora, 2022)

As with all medicines, there is a risk of an allergic response after this vaccine.

This is why everyone is asked to wait for at least 15 minutes after vaccination so that a health professional can monitor for any immediate adverse reactions.

If your child has a history of an immediate allergic reaction to other products, including food, medicines or other vaccines, they can still have this vaccine but are asked to stay a little longer (at least 30 minutes) for monitoring. 

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is safe for people with food allergies. Unlike some other vaccines, there is no food, gelatin or latex in the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, and it is not grown in eggs. The only reason that someone may not be able to have this vaccine due to allergy is if they have had a severe allergic response (anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of the Pfizer vaccine or an ingredient in the vaccine. Vaccinators are trained to recognise these symptoms and have the appropriate equipment to treat people on site.

The Pfizer vaccine does NOT contain:

  • animal products
  • antibiotics
  • blood products
  • DNA
  • egg proteins
  • foetal material
  • gluten
  • microchips
  • pork products
  • preservatives
  • soy
  • latex (the vial stopper is made with synthetic rubber – bromobutyl).

Like adults, children and young people may have some side effects after their COVID-19 vaccination. These side effects are generally mild and should only last 1–2 days. The most common side effects are:

  • a sore arm from your injection – you can put a cold cloth or ice pack on it to feel better
  • a headache
  • feeling tired
  • feeling feverish or sweaty
  • nausea (feeling sick)
  • aching muscles.

If your child feels unwell, get them to rest and drink plenty of fluids. They should avoid vigorous exercise, like running around or swimming. Paracetamol can be taken (following instructions on packaging, or as given by your doctor or pharmacist) after vaccination to help to relieve fever or pain. Read more about what happens after your child’s Pfizer vaccination. 

The risk of harm to children from COVID-19 infection remains much higher than the risk to them from vaccine side effects. 

Did you know that you can report a side effect to a medicine to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product(external link).


Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle and it can be mild or serious. It is usually caused by viruses, such as COVID-19, but it is also a very rare side effect of the Pfizer vaccine, especially in adolescents and young males. Myocarditis wasn’t identified as a side effect of the Pfizer vaccine in the 5–11 age group in trials, however it is important to be aware of the symptoms for all people who are getting vaccinated.

Symptoms of myocarditis linked to the Pfizer vaccine generally appear within a few days, and mostly within the first week after having the vaccine. If anyone gets these symptoms after vaccination, you should seek medical help, especially if these symptoms don’t go away:

  • Tightness, heaviness, discomfort or pain in the chest or neck.
  • Difficulty breathing or catching your breath.
  • Feeling faint, dizzy or light-headed.
  • A fluttering, racing or pounding heart, or feeling like it's ‘skipping beats’.

If the child or young person experiences any of these symptoms in the days or weeks after the vaccine, they should see a doctor. You can also call Healthline on 0800 611 116 anytime to get advice. If you have an immediate serious concern about their health, call 111, and make sure you tell them they’ve had a COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine. 


covid19 after childs vaccination

Covid-19 vaccine – after your child's vaccination

Unite against COVID-19 and Ministry of Health NZ, 2022

Protecting your tamariki from Covid-19

Ministry for Pacific Peoples and Ministry of Health NZ

5 questions to ask about your medications

5 questions to ask about your medications

Health Quality and Safety Commission, NZ, 2019

Te reo Māori

Free helplines

Healthline logo

Text 1737 Helpline logo

Logo with link to Māori Pharmacists website

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist, Healthify He Puna Waiora. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland

Last reviewed:

Page last updated: