It is encouraging to see that research has shown the risk of severe COVID-19 infection is low for children with asthma, with some exceptions.
There are rare cases of COVID-19 infection having a serious impact on children. Recent research suggests that children who have had to go to hospital or use oral steroids for their asthma may have a higher risk of severe COVID-19 infection.
It is clear that the virus will spread fastest among unvaccinated people, which heightens the risk for the whole population. That is why the Australian Government recommends COVID-19 vaccinations for children from age 5 once they are available, so that they have extra protection against this virus.
We have many tools at our disposal to protect our children from COVID-19 and to reduce the chance that COVID-19 will harm their asthma. For children with asthma, getting the COVID-19 vaccination and an up-to-date Asthma Action Plan is the best way to stay prepared. Learn with your child how to use their puffers correctly – you could watch our videos together here. It is also a good idea to have a one-month supply of your child’s asthma medications at home.
For children with or without asthma, cold and flu viruses are common. Symptoms to watch out for that could indicate COVID-19 include runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever, headache, fatigue, diarrhoea and vomiting. The Australian Government has funded many COVID-19 testing clinics where you can be tested to check if your child has the virus. Luckily, most children only get mild disease, and some remain completely symptom free. The bottom line is that all kids with the above symptoms should be tested.
Keep your children home when they are sick with any viral symptoms. If this is the case, especially for a child with asthma, their doctor should be involved to assist with their care.
How to provide security for your child and for your family as we transition to living with COVID-19.
Be sensible and continue to practice good hygiene, socialise outdoors when possible, and keep your distance from others. This is especially important in public settings like schools and on public transport. Parents should consider wearing masks at school pickup and drop off, to prevent parent-to-parent spread.
Encourage your school-aged children to wear face masks when you do. This includes outdoors when socialising or unable to maintain 1.5m physical distance, as well as indoors and at school. Many fun printed cloth masks are available, as well as child sized disposable masks. Masks are one of the best tools to stop the spread of the virus. You can make it fun and exciting for your child to wear a mask just like you and other ‘grown-ups’.
If your child feels scared of wearing a mask, practice some breathing exercises with them to get used to it, like the ones in our blog: Click here
Wash your hands regularly with soap and teach your children to do so properly. The use of hand sanitiser is helpful but must be supervised.
Make sure your child has an up-to-date Asthma Action Plan at home. Discuss these details with your child’s teachers, and check that they have a School Asthma Plan to guide them in the event of an asthma flare-up at school.
We wish you good health as you return to community activities! COVID-19 is becoming part of life, but it does not need to define your life. Control the things that you can control, reduce as much as possible the risk of infection for you and your family; review your family’s asthma management plan, and seek advice from valid sources, so you can breathe easy.
Resources we recommend include:
- 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462): A free service from Asthma Australia for people with asthma and their carers, staffed by Asthma Educators.
- Coronavirus Health Information Line (1800 020 080): Call this line if you are seeking advice on COVID-19. This service runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Health Direct (1800 022 222): Free health advice, open 24 hours a day seven days a week.
- Your doctor or local health provider