COVID-19 advice for parents of children with long term medical conditions
COVID-19 is a worry for all parents however there are now vaccines available against the infection. This will be rolled out to vulnerable individuals but we are unsure of whether children will be eligible due to their age. Research is ongoing into medicines that may help treat the infection.
Encouragingly, data from the United Kingdom and other similar countries show that the infection is far milder in children than in adults, although we do not yet understand exactly why this is the case. It is unbelievably sad whenever a child dies but thankfully in the UK we have seen very few deaths due to COVID-19, even in children or teenagers who we would expect to be more at risk, such as those undergoing cancer treatment, with chest problems or with weakened immune systems.
However, specific groups of children who are at the highest risk of severe infection need to be shielded from others. Very few children currently need to shield and as this information changes quickly the most up to date information can be found here under the RCPCH guidance.
If you are not sure whether your child falls into this category, contact your child's consultant or specialist nurse who should be able to offer advice.
The virus is spread by droplets. The best way to reduce the risk of your child being infected is to:
- Get them to wash their hands regularly with soap and water, especially after being in public places. They can use an alcohol sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available.
- Try to avoid them touching their face, especially their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. This is how the virus will get from their hands into their body.
- Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
There is no treatment that has been proven to be effective for COVID-19 and children will not be swabbed unless they need to be admitted to hospital. If your child meets the criteria for COVID-19 (fever and/or new continuous cough), your whole family will need to self-isolate for 10 days.
Most children will be able to be managed at home with their usual treatments. Make sure you continue giving them all their regular treatments (including immunosuppression) as normal. Although there is no evidence showing that ibuprofen is associated with harm in children with COVID-19, until we have more information, we suggest that you avoid ibuprofen unless you have been told that paracetamol is not suitable for your child.
Fever and respiratory symptoms should be managed in exactly the same way as you would have done before COVID-19 came along. If you’re not sure if your child needs to be seen by a healthcare professional, click here to help you decide.
Don’t assume that just because your child has a fever, that they have COVID-19. The normal infections that make children unwell are still circulating and it’s really important to watch for signs of serious illness - if your child has any of the amber or red features, make sure that you seek help appropriately (even if this means taking them to hospital).
For more information about COVID-19, including how to talk to your child about COVID-19, click here. If you think that your child is unwell with moderate breathing problems (amber features) and might need to be seen, contact NHS 111 online or call NHS 111. If your child develops severe breathing problems (red features), call 999.
If your child is under a specialist team in the hospital and you are worried about issues relating to their long term condition, contact them in the usual way for further advice.