COVID-19 and Children
Last updated 6/2/2022 – Press refresh or F5 to see the latest page
Glenfield Medical Centre will remain open throughout the COVID pandemic to look after our patients, but we will NEED YOUR HELP to ensure we can continue providing care to those who need them the most. To ensure our staff and phone lines remain accessible to critically ill patients, we would like patients seeking information to use our website as much as possible, or call the COVID-19 health advice line 0800 358 5453.
How to keep my child safe from COVID-19
One fortunate thing about the COVID pandemic is that children are less affected than adults. It is estimated around 30% of children with COVID-19 will have no symptoms, with the majority of children with COVID-19 having mild symptoms and less likely to be seriously unwell. However, it is important to remember that they can still transmit the virus even with mild or no symptoms, so it is still important to take the usual precautions against COVID-19.
In addition, don’t delay any routine healthcare especially their normal childhood immunisations.
Should I vaccinate my child?
Having said all that, severe COVID illness do occur in all age group, just less likely in children. Around 1 in 100 children will require hospitalisation for COVID-19 related illness, but intensive care is seldomly required. Children are at a higher risk of severe COVID illness if they have pre-existing chronic conditions or prematurity. Of note, a serious and rare (1/3000) complication called paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS-TS) can occur 2 to 6 weeks after a COVID-19 infection. Also persisting symptoms that last for months or longer can occur called long COVID.
Most parents would agree that it is impossible to keep children in the house for long periods of time, therefore children are likely to be exposed to COVID-19 at some stage. Vaccination is effective in reducing the risk of getting symptoms of COVID-19, and highly effective in preventing severe COVID illness. It is available for children age 5 or over, see COVID vaccine for children for more information. It will also reduce the spread of COVID-19 to the family, the community and help keep schools open.
Should my child go to school?
Children are not subject to vaccine pass requirement or school exclusion, and it will remain the parents’ choice for what is best for their children. However, schools can still be closed if there is a significant risk of COVID transmission in the school.
There is a general agreement amongst paediatric specialists that the harm from missing out school far outweighs the harm of COVID-19 illness. Not attending school or a school closure can impact children in many ways, including falling behind academically, missing out on social interactions and making friends, affecting their mental health and worsening equity. Therefore, school closures are usually considered as last resort option.
Children unwell with COVID or cold/flu symptoms
Not considering COVID, children in general get sick often will colds, flu, strep throat, conjunctivitis, tummy bugs etc. If they have any of these symptoms, get a COVID test, it is the only way we can limit and slow down the spread of COVID-19, and avoid overwhelming the hospital and health system.
Children with COVID-19 usually have mild symptoms including fatigue, runny nose, sore throat, cough, diarrhoea and fever lasting 3-5 days. While you are waiting on the test result, here are some things you can do to manage their symptoms:
Pamol (paracetamol) and Brufen (ibuprofen) are very useful to settle fever, headaches and common viral symptoms. Usually just Pamol would be sufficient, but if your child is distressed with stubborn fevers, you can try alternating Pamol and Brufen every 3 hours (e.g. 9am Pamol, 12 noon Brufen, 3pm Pamol, 6pm Brufen etc).
Physical cooling can also help but don’t over do it, just undress your child to single layer clothing. You can also cool the face and forehead with a damp face cloth.
If your child has persistent fever that is not improving for more than 3 days, go see a doctor to check if there are any other reasons such as a chest infection, tonsillitis or ear infection. Babies less than 3 months old with a fever of 38 or higher always need see a doctor, do not wait.
Unfortunately there are not many things they are effective to control runny nose for younger children. Most people resort to putting the bed up in an angle (put some books under the legs of the bed), saline nose drops and suction device, to little success.
Older children age over 6 can try a nasal decongestant spray, but remember you should take a break after 3-4 days to avoid developing dependence and causing rebound congestion.
Again unfortunately, most cough medicines have little effect. If you want to try, young children will have to use more natural ones like Prospan to help break down mucus. Older children over 6 can try cough syrup like Durotuss or Robitussin that help break down mucus and suppress the urge to cough.
Antibiotics do not help with viral infections like COVID-19, and are only useful for bacterial infections like pneumonia.
Children can get easily dehydrated especially when they have fever, sweats or diarrhoea. For babies, offer frequent breast milk or formula. Electrolyte fluid is also an excellent option. If that is not available, you can make something similar with 1 part water : 1 part juice/soup/sports drinks.