17 March 2022

Routine vaccinations during COVID-19: What parents need to know

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has brought with it fear and uncertainty. Many parents are asking about when there will be a COVID-19 vaccine and what to do about routine childhood vaccinations during the pandemic. We're here to provide answers to your most common questions.  , Should my child still get routine vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic?, While COVID-19 is disrupting our daily lives, the short answer is yes, do try to get your child vaccinated where services are available. It is important that children and babies keep their vaccinations up to date because they protect them from serious diseases. It means that when your children can return to interacting with other children, they’ll…, What do you think we can learn from this outbreak? What can it teach us about other diseases and the decision to vaccinate?, This outbreak reminds us of how valuable vaccines are. It shows us that when there is a vaccine available for a disease, we should keep our children and ourselves up to date with that vaccination.  Without the protection of vaccines, diseases can spread quickly and with terrible consequences. For example, measles and other diseases remain a…, How do vaccines work?, Vaccines help train our immune system to fight infections by introducing an inactivated form of a germ (bacteria or virus) into the body. Since it is inactivated, it cannot make us sick. However, it triggers our body’s immune system to produce defences called antibodies. Then, if you ever catch the germ, your body’s immune system will already know…, Where can I find the latest guidance on vaccinations?, Contact your health care provider, consult your local and national health authority websites and follow guidance provided by  WHO  and  UNICEF ., How can I protect myself and others from COVID-19?, Some of the precautions you and your family can take to help avoid infection include: Washing your hands frequently using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth. If you sneeze or cough, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or a tissue. Dispose of used tissue immediately. Avoid…, I have a newborn to 1-year-old. How can I protect my baby from COVID-19?, In addition to all of the advice already given to parents about hand washing, physical distancing and maintaining hygiene practices, they should take extra care to protect infants from infection. Breastfeed your baby if possible. There is currently no proven research that breastmilk can transmit the virus, but you should take the usual hygiene and…, What should I do if my child is showing symptoms of COVID-19? Is it safe to take her to the doctor?, If your child has a sore throat, a cough or a fever, call your doctor or health service for advice before bringing them in. They may have a special arrangement at the clinic to minimise spread of infection to others. If your child has more serious symptoms, like shortness of breath or seems unusually sick, call the emergency number or take them to…, Should I get my child tested for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?, You don’t need to have your child tested if he or she is healthy and not showing any symptoms (such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing). Do also make sure to take all key steps to protect your family against COVID-19.  
17 March 2022

COVID-19: Frequently asked questions

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the lives of children and their families around the world. UNICEF is working with health experts to promote facts over fear, bringing trustworthy guidance and answering some of the questions that families might have.  , What is COVID-19?, COVID-19 is an infectious respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ for virus, and ‘D’ for disease., What are the symptoms of COVID-19?, Many COVID-19 symptoms are similar to those of the flu, the common cold and other conditions, so a test is required to confirm if someone has COVID-19. Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus and can range from very mild to severe illness. Some people who have been infected don’t have any symptoms. The most common symptoms are…, How does the COVID-19 virus spread?, The virus can spread from an infected person’s mouth or nose in small droplets when they cough, sneeze, speak, sing or breathe. These particles can range in size from larger respiratory droplets to smaller aerosols, and people can be contagious whether or not they are displaying symptoms. A person can be infected when aerosols or droplets…, Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe and effective?, Yes, even though COVID-19 vaccines have been developed as rapidly as possible, they must go through rigorous testing in clinical trials to prove that they meet internationally agreed benchmarks for safety and effectiveness. Only if they meet these standards can a vaccine receive validation from WHO and national regulatory agencies., Will my child be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine? , An increasing number of vaccines are now being approved for use in children, so it’s important to stay informed of guidance by your local and national health authorities. Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have been approved by WHO for use in children 12 years and older. Studies are ongoing into vaccine efficacy and safety in children under 12…, I’ve heard about a variant called Omicron. How concerned should I be?, It’s normal for viruses to mutate over time. Experts are constantly monitoring new variants of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, including Omicron, to see if they spread more easily, cause more severe disease, or could have an impact on the effectiveness of vaccines. For the moment, we don’t have answers to all these questions. New variants…, Are any of these new COVID-19 variants more dangerous for children? , Experts are continuing to monitor these variants around the world to better understand their impact, including on children. So far, the evidence doesn’t suggest that these variants are specifically targeting children, and severe illness in young people remains relatively rare. Parents should continue to encourage their children to take the same…, Do the COVID-19 vaccines work against the new variants?, Experts around the world are continuously studying how the new variants affect the behaviour of the virus, including any potential impact on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. But in the meantime, the important thing to do is to get vaccinated and continue measures to reduce the spread of the virus – which helps to reduce the chances for the…, I’ve been vaccinated, do I still need to get tested for COVID-19?, If you have been fully vaccinated but are showing symptoms of COVID-19, you should contact your doctor about whether you should get tested., What is ‘Long COVID’? Can children be affected? , Post COVID-19 condition, also sometimes referred to as ‘Long COVID,’ is a term used to describe symptoms persisting for weeks or months in some people after the initial recovery from COVID-19 infection.  More research is needed to better understand the long-term effects of COVID-19, but young adults and children without underlying chronic medical…, How can I protect myself and others from COVID-19?, Recent surges of COVID-19 in some countries are a reminder of the importance of continuing to take precautions. Here are some things you and your family can take to help avoid infection: Avoid crowded places, confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation, and try to practice physical distancing from people in public, keeping at least 1 metre…, Should I wear a medical mask to protect against COVID-19?, The use of a medical mask is advised if you have respiratory symptoms (coughing or sneezing) to protect others, or if you are caring for someone who may have COVID-19. If masks are worn, they must be used and disposed of properly to ensure their effectiveness and to avoid any increased risk of transmitting the virus. Disposable face masks should…, How does COVID-19 affect children?, We are still learning how it affects children. We know it is possible for people of any age to be infected and transmit the virus, although older people and/or those with pre-existing medical conditions seem more likely to develop serious illness. There are reports of a rare but serious multisystem inflammatory syndrome affecting children and…, What should I do if my child has symptoms of COVID-19?, Seek care early if your child is having symptoms and try to avoid going to public places (workplace, schools, public transport) to prevent it spreading to others., What precautions should I take for my family if we travel?, Anyone planning a trip should always follow local and national guidance on whether it is advisable to travel. Those traveling should check the advisory for their destination for any restrictions on entry, quarantine requirements on entry, or other relevant travel advice. If flying, it is also recommended to consult the guidelines for the airline…, Can pregnant women pass COVID-19 to unborn children? , At this time, we still do not know if the virus can be transmitted from a mother to her baby during pregnancy. To date, the COVID-19 virus has not been found in vaginal fluid, in cord blood, breastmilk, amniotic fluid or the placenta. Research is still ongoing. Pregnant women should continue to follow appropriate precautions to protect themselves…, Is it safe for a mother to breastfeed if she is infected with COVID-19?, Yes, this should continue with appropriate precautions. There is no evidence to date that the COVID-19 virus is transmitted through breastfeeding. Breastmilk provides antibodies that protect babies against many infections. Breastfeeding significantly reduces the risk of death in newborns and young infants, provides lifelong health benefits for…, I’m worried about bullying, discrimination and stigmatization. What’s the best way to talk about what’s happening?, It’s understandable if you’re feeling worried about the coronavirus. But fear and stigma make a difficult situation worse. Public health emergencies are stressful times for everyone affected. It’s important to stay informed and to be kind and supportive to each other. Words matter and using language that perpetuates existing stereotypes can drive…, There’s a lot of misinformation about COVID-19 online. What should I do?, There are a lot of myths and misinformation about COVID-19 being shared online. Get verified facts and advice from trusted sources like your local health authority, the  UN ,  UNICEF ,  WHO . If you see content online that you believe to be false or misleading, you can help stop it spreading by reporting it to the  social media platform ., COVID-19 has been described as a “pandemic”. What does that mean?, The term “pandemic” refers to the geographical spread of COVID-19, it is not an indication of the number of people who have been infected by the virus.  
04 March 2022

How to raise a healthy eater

Good food and nutrition are the foundation of children’s health and bring benefits that can last a lifetime. Teaching your child about healthy eating from a young age will help them to have a positive relationship with food well into adulthood. And believe it or not, shaping these habits can be fun and healthy – not just for your child, but your…, 1. Promote positive habits, Your little ones watch everything you do – including at mealtime. You can be a good role model by reaching for healthy foods, beverages and snacks yourself, and engaging in fun physical activity. Choosing to put healthy, whole foods on the table sets a great example for your child. Try including your children in food shopping and preparation. They…, 2. Maintain a healthy relationship with food, Having a healthy mindset around eating is key for lifelong health and protecting against illnesses like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. You can help guide your young child by: Helping them understand whether they are physically hungry. This will help them to become in tune with their body’s needs. Staying away from using food as a reward or…, 3. Let go of “clean your plate!”, Although you might think this could help your child get the nutrients needed from food, these behaviours can lead to disliking foods and having negative associations with mealtime. If you can’t get your child to eat their veggies, try to have them see you eating and enjoying them yourself. Your little one learns about food choices from you, so try…, 4. Make portion control a priority, Oversized portions can lead to weight gain, so it is important to teach your children about how much food they should have on their plate. An easy way to teach your child about child-portion sizes is to use visuals for example: A closed fist is recommended for a portion of pasta, rice or cereal. A meat portion should be about as big as their palm…, 5. Start the day with a healthy breakfast, Mornings can be a rush for many families, but starting the day with a balanced meal helps your child get the important nutrients – such as calcium and fibre – needed for their growth and development. Try to create breakfasts with nutrient-dense ingredients like plain yoghurt and fresh fruit instead of sweetened cereals or pastries, which tend to…, 6. Make activity fun, Children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Why not join in the fun? Try to plan family activities that get everyone moving such as after-dinner walks or swimming. And be spontaneous when you see an opportunity, like dancing together when a favourite song comes on the radio. It is also important to encourage your child to limit…
04 March 2022

How to support your child if you are concerned about their weight

It can be difficult to watch your child struggling with their weight. As a parent, you want to do everything you can to help your children – especially when they are stressed. Here are some ways to help support your child if you are worried that their weight may be affecting their health and well-being. If you are concerned about your child’s…, Avoid blame , Young people can gain weight due to several reasons outside of their control or individual behaviour, often with complex causes. Children who struggle with their weight frequently experience bias, stigma and bullying. It’s critical to stay away from blaming your child, and instead try to understand the structural issues at play that encourage…, Have healthy conversations, In a fast-changing digital landscape, it is important to remain aware of threats to the mental health and well-being of your child as it relates to their confidence and body image issues. These can range from social media posts stereotyping weight or encouraging eating disorders, to the constant corporate marketing of unhealthy junk food targeting…, Focus on healthy behaviours, Unless advised by a health professional, focus on “health and a healthy goals” rather than weight loss. Healthy eating and physical activity behaviours do not become routine overnight. It takes time, effort and perseverance from you and your child to make changes that last. Any big, sudden alterations to your child’s diet and lifestyle are…
22 February 2022

Travelling with your family during COVID-19

Travelling is a part of life for families across the globe – be it for necessity or recreation. But the COVID-19 pandemic is not over, and travel continues to be risky and complicated in many parts of the world. If you and your loved ones need to travel, here are some tips to consider to help you do so more safely.  , Is it okay to travel during the COVID-19 pandemic?, All travel comes with some risk of getting or spreading COVID-19. Before you travel, check if COVID-19 is spreading in your local area and in any of the places you are going. Do not travel if you or your family are sick, have any symptoms of COVID-19 or have been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days. Unvaccinated family members who are…, Is it safe to travel after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine?, Travel, like any activity that involves coming into contact with other people from different households, is not risk-free even after full vaccination against COVID-19. The good news is that having the required number of doses and giving time for the vaccines to take effect significantly reduces your risk of becoming seriously ill and spreading the…, I’ve recovered from COVID-19. Do I still need to get vaccinated before traveling?, It is recommended that people who have previously been infected by COVID-19 are still vaccinated, whether travelling or not. The majority of people who are infected produce some antibodies and immune cells that can fight off infection, but the immune response varies significantly and it is unclear how long this protection lasts. In people who were…, How should we prepare to travel together as a family?, If you do choose to travel, check for any travel restrictions, stay-at-home orders, quarantining and testing requirements in your local area, and all places you’re planning to visit (check websites of Ministries of Health, Ministries of Foreign Affairs and local health authorities). Keep in mind, these policies may change with little advance…, What should we do if we plan to spend the night away from home?, If you plan to stay at a hotel or other accommodation, check in advance what prevention measures they have in place: Are staff wearing masks at work and practicing physical distancing? Are extra precautions in place, such as plexiglass barriers at check-in, modified layouts or barriers to allow for physical distancing between all staff, guests and…, What safety precautions should we take while travelling?, While travelling, all parents and caregivers should take standard precautions for themselves and their children: Avoid crowded places, confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation Try to keep a physical distance of at least 1 metre from people in public Wear masks when in public places where COVID-19 is widespread and physical distancing is…, What should we do when we return home?, After you return home, follow recommendations or requirements from your national or local authorities, and continue to follow all the key precautions – including watching for any symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking medical advice if they develop.  This article was originally published on 10 September 2020. It was last updated on 24 August 2021.