We know how frightening it may be for parents to hear news reports about the 2019 novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) – especially parents of immunocompromised children.
At this time, the full impact of COVID-19 on children, especially those with compromised immune systems, is unknown. However, limited information so far shows that most healthy children with the virus have done well.
Here are some recommendations for steps to take to help protect immunocompromised children from COVID-19:
- Call your provider
Call your child’s care provider first if your child has a runny nose or cough. Go to the emergency department if a cough or runny nose is accompanied by fever, or if you are advised to by your doctor, or you believe the situation is emergent.
- Follow through with medical appointments
If you have medical appointments that are important to your child’s care, you should attend them. The risk of getting COVID-19 in the U.S. is currently low. It is reasonable to cancel non-essential appointments that can be rescheduled. If you are unsure whether to attend your child’s appointment, please call ahead.
- Practice good hand-washing
Everyone in the home should consistently wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of illness. If you don’t have access to soap and water, hand sanitizer is a good alternative. Get a pediatrician’s tips for proper hand-washing.
- Cover coughs and sneezes
Cough and sneeze into your inner elbow – and teach children to do the same. It’s also important for everyone to avoid touching their mouths, noses and eyes.
- Disinfect high-touch surfaces
It is important to disinfect surfaces that are commonly touched such as the cell phones, tablets, game controllers, doorknobs, light switches and table counters.
- Practice social distancing
Greet people with elbow bumps instead of hugs or handshakes. Additionally, follow the California Department of Public Health’s guidance for public gatherings. Issued March 12, it recommends cancelling or postponing gatherings that include 250 people or more or smaller gatherings that don’t allow for social distancing of 6 feet per person.
- School attendance
While many schools are suspending attendance incentives currently, ask your school principal if attendance is mandatory or if your child can stay at home. If you need letters of support, contact your provider. Many schools are currently reviewing their schedule of upcoming field trips and on-site activities, and it’s possible they will postpone or cancel them.
- Face masks
The benefit of wearing masks is controversial. A mask may not be well fitting, and germs can still get through. A benefit might be that it can keep kids from touching their mouth and nose, but it is not a reliable barrier for germs. A better way to keep your child exposed is through avoiding crowded situations.
- Travel cautiously
It is better to avoid unnecessary travel in closed confined spaces flights, buses or trains. If someone in your family has recently traveled to an area with high COVID-19 activity and is showing symptoms of respiratory illness, it is best for you and your child, immunocompromised or not, to avoid contact with the person for at least 14 days. Make sure you have necessary medical supplies and prescription medications on hand, check levels of all your medications and let your provider know if you need refills.
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