COVID-19 Information for parents

Vaccinating your children 

Everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand aged 5 years and over is eligible for free COVID-19 vaccination. 

Tamariki aged 5 to 11 are eligible for two paediatric (child) doses of the Pfizer vaccine eight weeks apart.  

Rangatahi aged 12 to 15 are eligible for two full adult doses of the Pfizer vaccine at a minimum of three weeks apart. They are not eligible for a booster. 

Those aged 16+ are now eligible for a booster six months after completing a primary vaccination course. 

It is recommended to wait three months after you test positive for COVID-19 before getting any COVID-19 vaccination. This recommendation is for all ages and applies to all COVID-19 vaccines available in New Zealand.  

Face masks for children 

Choose a mask for tamariki that fits them best, is comfortable to wear and can be worn consistently. The mask should cover their nose, mouth, and chin without gaps above, below or on the sides. 

This can be a reusable fabric mask (three layers is recommended) or a medical disposable mask. Many fabric masks (either purchased or made) come in child sizes. 

  • Find out more about face masks 

If your child/children have COVID-19 symptoms 

Most tamariki with COVID-19 generally have mild symptoms. With Omicron, symptoms generally last for about a week, and are similar to a cold. Some children might be sick for longer. 

Teenagers and those children with severe underlying conditions are more at risk of needing to go to hospital. If you are concerned your child is very unwell, seek urgent medical help. 

A small number of older children may have symptoms that last longer. This is sometimes called post-COVID-19 condition or long COVID. Find out what is known about long COVID and how to care for a child who is taking longer to get better. 

Read about some of the symptoms that you can expect them to get, and when to call your local healthcare provider or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice. 

COVID-19 explainers for children: 

Isolating with tamariki 

If you have COVID-19 but your children don’t, or vice versa, you should try to reduce your contact with them where you can. However, we appreciate that this may not be possible, particularly with young children. 

If it’s an option for you to sleep in a separate room to your child, you should do so. 

If there are other people in your home, avoid contact with them where possible. 

Wear masks while in the same room as others and get fresh air by opening the windows as much as possible. Masks and ventilation are important in reducing COVID-19 from spreading.   

When isolating, you can leave your home to exercise without wearing a mask. You can exercise outdoors but stay away from others and don’t go to a shared exercise facility, such as a swimming pool. 

Te Papa has some fun, at-home activities for kids you can explore: 

Self-isolating is the most effective way to protect people around you from getting COVID-19. Keep in touch with family and friends online or by phone. You can place an online order for your groceries and have them delivered to your door. 

Breastfeeding if you have COVID-19 

Breastfeeding provides immunological protection for your baby. Most often babies who are breastfed remain healthy even when their parents or other family members are unwell with an infectious illness. 

Considering the benefits of breastfeeding, you should continue to breastfeed during the COVID-19 pandemic while applying all the necessary precautions.  

To reduce risk of spreading the virus while breastfeeding, you should wear a surgical mask. These will be provided by your midwife. You should also wash your hands thoroughly before feeding. Avoid kissing and touching your baby’s face. 

If you become infected with COVID-19 shortly before giving birth, or have developed symptoms and are awaiting test results, your midwife and doctors will provide advice on the potential of your baby developing COVID-19. You can still choose to breastfeed while taking specific precautions 

If you are too unwell to breastfeed, you can express and freeze? your breast milk and give it to your baby in a bottle. Make sure you still follow the infection prevention methods. 

If you become unwell in the days or weeks after giving birth, and you are breastfeeding your baby, you do not need to interrupt breastfeeding. There is no evidence of transmission of the virus through your breastmilk, and your baby will benefit from continued breastfeeding. Because your baby will have been exposed to COVID-19, they will be considered a close contact of a confirmed case and you will be provided advice from your public health unit. 

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