COVID-19 Immunisation For 5 To 11 Year Olds

COVID-19 Immunisation For 5 To 11 Year Olds

The COVID-19 vaccine is part of a multi-layered approach which offers the best protection against COVID-19. All these measures can help children return to school safely, reconnect with whānau and friends, and do what they enjoy. Parents and caregivers have the opportunity to protect their children aged 5 to 11 against COVID-19 with the child version of the Pfizer vaccine. 

Covid-19 omicron: What you need to know about the Pfizer vaccine for kids |

Covid-19 Omicron: What you need to know about the Pfizer vaccine for kids. Video by


The COVID-19 vaccine - one of the defences against COVID-19

How vaccines power up the fight against COVID-19

Watch this video, created for the Spinoff - Toby Morris and Siouxsie Wiles explain how vaccines power up the fight against COVID-19, even if you're fit and healthy.

Video - how vaccines power up the fight against COVID-19

COVID vaccination adds another layer of protection

COVID vaccination for 5 to 11 year old children adds another layer of protection to existing measures:

  • masks
  • immunisation of older siblings and adults
  • ventilation
  • distancing
  • hand washing
  • staying home and getting tested if unwell

Think of each public health protection against COVID-19 as layers of Swiss cheese.

The COVID-19 vaccine is one of these layers - one slice of cheese.

No single intervention is perfect at stopping the spread of COVID-19. Each intervention, or layer of cheese, has holes in it. 

Graphic - the vaccine is one of the layers of protection against COVID-19

You can read more about COVID-19 and the layers of Swiss cheese at the Spinoff website.

An animated image showing how the COVID vaccine protects us

See an animated graphic that briefly explains the importance of getting the COVID vaccine - and how it can keep us safe from all variants of the virus, including Omicron. The Spinoff's Toby Morris and microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles created the graphic.

Animated graphic - the importance of getting the COVID vaccine

Graphic showing how the COVID vaccine protects us

See the animated gif at the Spinoff website

COVID-19 vaccine for 5 to 11 year olds

Parents and caregivers have the opportunity to protect their children aged 5 to 11 against COVID-19 with the child version of the Pfizer vaccine.

Approval process

Cabinet approved use of the Pfizer vaccine to protect this age group on 21 December 2021. This followed advice from the COVID-19 Technical Advisory Group, and Medsafe approval. Medsafe only grants approval for a vaccine once it is satisfied that it has met high standards - for safety and for how effective the vaccine is at protecting you.

It's a child specific vaccine

Children have a children's version of the Pfizer vaccine - with a lower dose, a smaller amount and a smaller needle than the adult version. 

2 doses - at least 8 weeks apart for most children

To be fully protected, children need 2 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, at least 8 weeks apart. A longer times between doses gives a better immune response, which is likely to last longer.

The time between doses can be shortened to a minimum of 21 days for some children, if needed. These children include those with severe heart, lung or immunity problems. They are most at risk of severe disease and needing to spend time in hospital. Talk to your healthcare professional if you think this applies to your child.

A third primary dose for some children with severe health issues

Severely immunocompromised children aged 5 to 11 can now receive a third primary dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. It will give your child extra protection, and may help reduce the chances of them passing on the virus to others.  

A doctor, nurse practitioner or other health professional needs to prescribe a third primary dose. To find out if your child can have this, make a free appointment with your family doctor. 

The third dose should be 8 weeks after the second dose. Sometimes that gap can be reduced to 4 weeks. It depends on current or planned treatments. 

Can my child still have the COVID-19 vaccine if they have had COVID?

Yes they can. The timing of vaccine doses will be slightly different. This is because infection with COVID-19 reduces the risk of getting COVID-19 again.

For children who have had COVID before dose 1

Your child can have the first dose about 12 weeks after they have recovered from COVID symptoms, or 12 weeks after a positive PCR or RAT test (if your child had COVID with mild or no symptoms).

Your child can have the second dose 8 weeks after the first dose.

For children who have had COVID in between doses 1 and 2

If your child has already had dose 1, delay dose 2 until 12 weeks after your child has recovered from COVID symptoms, or 12 weeks after a positive PCR or RAT test (if your child had COVID with mild or no symptoms).

Graphic showing when to get vaccine doses after being COVID positive

Why immunise my child aged 5 to 11 against COVID-19?

The virus can be unpredictable. COVID-19 generally has mild effects in children, with symptoms similar to a cold. But, some children become very sick and need to spend some time in hospital.

In New Zealand's 2021 DELTA outbreak, about 24 in 100 COVID-19 cases have been in children aged 11 or under.

As with adults, if your child is infected with COVID-19, they may pass on the virus to other people. Immunising 5 to 11 year olds helps protect whānau members whose health makes them more vulnerable to COVID-19.

In the video below, Dr Pete Watson talks about how child immunisation is critical to reduce the likelihood of infection in our communities

In the video below, Dr Erik Andersen, paediatric neurologist at Capital and Coast District Health Board, talks about the benefits of immunising tamariki.

Making an informed decision

Watch a short video about making the decision to vaccinate your child against COVID-19 and being informed.

In this video, tamariki share what's on their minds about COVID-19 and the vaccine.

You could watch this video with your child. Dr Michelle Dickinson explains mRNA vaccines (such as the Pfizer vaccine) using cookies! 

Groups of children at higher risk from COVID-19

Children with some medical conditions do have an increased risk of getting severe COVID-19 and ending up in hospital. These conditions include breathing conditions (like severe asthma and cystic fibrosis); diabetes; disabilities involving the nervous system (like cerebral palsy); heart conditions (like rheumatic heart disease). It's important that these children have the COVID-19 vaccine.

What about consent for the COVID-19 vaccine for children?

Children will need consent given on their behalf before they can have either dose of the vaccine. No child aged 5 to 11 will be able to have the COVID-19 vaccine without the express consent of one of their parents or caregivers.

Each family can decide if they want this extra layer of protection for their child.

How can I talk to my child about having the COVID-19 vaccine?

You could watch a video with your child - Nanogirl explains the COVID-19 vaccine.

Watch the video below for suggestions about how parents and whānau can talk to tamariki and help prepare them for the immunisation process.

In the video below, paediatrician Dr Teuila Percival says it's best to be open and transparent with children about the COVID-19 vaccination. Explain to your child why they're having a vaccine and what to expect.

In the following video, psychologist Paul Prangley gives advice on how parents and caregivers can talk to their children about being immunised against COVID-19.

Check the tips about preparing your tamariki for their COVID-19 vaccination

Supporting tamariki with disabilities to have the COVID-19 vaccine

The Disability Team is available Monday to Friday, from 8am to 8pm. They will support your whānau and can book a vaccination appointment for you. They can answer any questions you may have about your child's needs including accessibility, free transport options, or any affects the vaccine may have on your child.

Check some resources to support children and young people with disabilities have the COVID-19 vaccine

Watch the video below of Dr Pete Watson, Chief Medical Officer at Counties Manukau DHB, talk about why immunisation with the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine is appropriate for tamariki with disabilities.

What if my child has a needle phobia?

Watch Jaki, a vaccinator, talk about how she helps vaccinate children and people with needle phobias and sensory issues. 

Where can children have the COVID-19 vaccine?

There are many places around New Zealand that offer COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged 5 to 11.

You can arrange a vaccination for your child by:

  • booking online through Book My Vaccine - it is fast and easy to book or change your appointments
  • call the COVID-19 Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week) to make a whānau booking or if you are booking for more than 1 child (interpreters are available) 
  • check if your local doctor is offering child vaccinations for their enrolled patients - contact them directly or check on the Healthpoint website
  • find a walk-in or drive-through centre offering child vaccinations near you - check the listing of vaccination centres near you

What can I expect after my child's COVID-19 vaccine?

Like all medicines, the Pfizer vaccine may cause side effects in some children. This is the body's normal response and shows the vaccine is working.

You can check a Ministry of Health and 'Unite Against COVID-19' pamphlet 'After your child's Pfizer vaccination'. The pamphlet discusses possible side effects and when to seek medical attention.

Check the pamphlet about what to expect after your child's Pfizer vaccination (PDF, 260KB)

More information about COVID-19 immunisation in children aged 5 to 11

Check the pamphlet 'Tamariki time - helpful information about vaccinating kids aged 5 to 11' (PDF, 1.6MB).

See the pamphlet 'Protecting your tamariki from COVID-19' from the Ministry of Health, Ministry for Pacific Peoples and Karawhiua (PDF, 646KB).

You can also watch some experts discuss COVID-19 immunisation for 5 to 11 year olds

What about other immunisations for tamariki during COVID-19?

Most community locations will provide a whole of whānau approach. Children and members of their whānau can have their usual childhood immunisations as well as COVID immunisations and/or boosters. All vaccinators will have specific training about immunising children.

Find out about getting other immunisations safely for your tamariki

This page last reviewed 13 January 2022.

Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 any time of the day or night for free health advice when you need it