If you have a child with a respiratory condition, the idea of them or someone in your home contracting COVID-19 can be frightening. We sat down with paediatric respiratory specialist, Prof Sarath Ranganathan to answer some of the most asked questions from parents.
How effective are the vaccines for 5-11 year olds?
There is lots of information from overseas that shows the vaccines are safe and effective. Vaccination halves the number of kids who go on to get severe disease. So, it isn’t going to stop your child being infected, but it will stop that infection becoming a severe infection.
Like we have seen in other countries, Australia is likely to experience another wave of infections during the winter. Vaccinating children against COVID-19 before this is important. It’s also important to vaccinate against other respiratory infections including influenza which is very common in children each winter. Speak to your child’s healthcare team about ensuring they’re protected before winter.
What do I do if my child has a respiratory condition and tests positive to COVID-19?
Prof Ranganathan says, because of the lockdowns and other measures put in place, there have been few cases of children with respiratory conditions testing positive to COVID-19. However, case numbers have increased recently and it’s likely that most Australian’s will contract the virus, so it’s appropriate to have a plan in place. At your next appointment, discuss with your child’s treating healthcare what you should do if your child experiences an infection.
Most people experience mild symptoms that can be managed at home with rest, hydration and over-the-counter medicines such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. You don’t need to see a doctor or visit a hospital if you child tests positive, however if they develop severe symptoms you should seek urgent medical attention. These can include:
- difficulty breathing
- pain or pressure in your chest
- cold and clammy skin
- fainting or collapsing.
Use the HealthDirect symptom checker if you’re unsure when to seek medical attention.
How can I reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading in the home?
Keeping up the habits of social distancing and good hand hygiene are some of the most effective ways of reducing the spread of the virus both inside the home and in the community. If someone in your household tests positive, where possible, this person should isolate away from the rest of the household members. If possible, this should include staying in a separate room, using a separate bathroom and avoiding common areas. Healthdirect has a range of resources and information on preparing your home, how to isolate, support services and caring for others.
How can I support my child to adapt to life alongside COVID-19?
Since the pandemic started in early 2020, our way of life has changed. For young children, understanding why can be difficult. As the world adapts to life alongside COVID-19, many activities may return to normal and this can bring on a whole range of feelings including excitement, apprehension and confusion. Supporting your child through these changes is important.
“We want kids who go back to school to thrive and be able to catch up. Pay attention to those sorts of things to ensure that kids are happy and thriving at school. And if there are any sort of suggestions that’s not the case, think about mental health and other issues as well. That’s what we’re seeing as being a particularly important finding now that kids have returned to school.”
If you notice your child needs additional support to navigate these changes, speak to the teachers and staff at your child’s school about what measures can be put in place and how you can support.
As a parent or carer, it’s also really important to take care of your own health and wellbeing. We have a range of information developed with mental health experts available to support you here.
Connect to care
You’re not alone. Our Information and Support Centre team provides guidance, information and support, and can connect you to relevant support services. This free and confidential service is available Monday to Friday 8am – 4.30pm (AEST) (excl. public holidays). Please note this service does not offer medical or treatment advice. Freecall 1800 654 301 or connect with us via the link below.