COVID-19: Parents

This page has information and links to help you care for your tamariki, rangatahi and whānau.

Last updated: 14 April 2022

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COVID-19 in tamariki (children)

There is useful information about different aspects of COVID-19 relating to tamariki on this page, the COVID-19 Health Hub and on the KidsHealth website.

Please also view the guidance for adults on different aspects of COVID-19 on the Ministry of Health website, and on the Unite against COVID-19 website.

See also:

COVID-19 vaccines: 5 to 15-year olds

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

COVID-19 vaccine: Ages 5 to 11

Tamariki aged 5 to 11 are eligible for two paediatric (child) doses of the Pfizer vaccine eight weeks apart. Parents and caregivers can learn about the benefits of tamariki being vaccinated, the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine, appointments, and consent.

COVID-19 vaccine: Children aged 5 to 11

COVID-19 vaccine: Ages 12 to 15

Young people 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.

COVID-19 vaccine: Ages 12 to 15

Boosters for 16- and 17-year-olds

Rangatahi (young people) people aged 16 and 17 are now eligible for a booster six months after completing a primary course

COVID-19 vaccine: Boosters

Vaccination after testing positive

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. 

COVID-19 vaccination: advice for different health circumstances

One family’s experience of the COVID-19 vaccinations

Mother and son team, Candice and Caden talk about the importance of getting Caden vaccinated against COVID-19 so their whole family and community can feel protected

Talofa lava and warm pacific greetings.

My name is Candice Apelu-Mariner and this is my son Caden Mariner.

So we all got vaccinated before the paediatric vaccination was available to protect Caden and so Caden wanted to jump on the bandwagon and say when can I also get vaccinated? Because I saw how it was protecting everyone from COVID-19 and I wanted to be protected from COVID-19 just like all my family members.

After my jab, I felt a little soreness in my shoulder but after a while I got better and I can just go back to playing with my friends and doing taekwondo.

To all pacific parents who are unsure, who are still on the fence, and it's fairly natural and okay because of all the myriad of information that's bombarding all of us, to please get the correct information from those actually work in the field.

No health worker wakes up in the morning going to work to say how are we gonna make people unwell today, no everyone wakes up in the morning to go to work and say how are we gonna make a difference.

Vaccinations do work and they do protect the most vulnerable members of society, which are not just our elderly but our children as well.

You know god gave us our children, part of my stewardship of making sure that my child is protected to the best of my ability, not just as parents but as a community.

Call 0800 28 29 26 to chat with someone who can help or to make a booking for your whānau. You can also book at BookMyVaccine.nz

Face masks for tamariki

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. For commonly available medical masks, there are techniques that can be used to improve the fit to a child’s face such as knot and tuck (YouTube).

Read more about face masks.

If your tamariki gets COVID-19 symptoms

If your tamariki has symptoms such as a sneezing and runny nose, sore throat, body aches, cough, feeling tired, headache, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea (runny poo) keep them at home and arrange for them to have a COVID-19 test.

Read about COVID-19 symptoms and about COVID-19 testing.

These symptoms are also shared other respiratory illnesses including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) which is also highly contagious and more common in the winter months.

Read about respiratory syncytial virus.

Caring for tamariki who have COVID-19

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.

 Caring for tamariki who have COVID-19 – COVID-19 Health Hub

Managing COVID-19 symptoms

Most tamariki will have mild COVID-19 symptoms for up to 2 weeks. Symptoms tend to appear around 2 to 5 days after someone is infected but can take up to 14 days to show.

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.

Manage COVID-19 symptoms in tamariki – COVID-19 Health Hub

More information:

Guidance for caring for tamariki with COVID-19

How to care for your child if they get COVID-19 – Health Navigator

Caring for your Child with Covid-19 - Starship Children’s Hospital Emergency Department, Auckland - (YouTube)

Recovering from COVID – including long COVID

Most children who get COVID-19 will have mild symptoms and get better quickly. But 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.

Recovering from COVID - Including Long COVID - KidsHealth.

Talking to Tamariki

Try to explain what is happening in a way that is easy to understand. Tell them you are staying at home to protect other people.

COVID-19 explainers for children:

Isolating with tamariki

Thank you for doing everything you can to isolate safely with your tamariki.

By doing so, you’re helping to reduce the risk of catching COVID-19 for your family, yourself, and your community.

How you can reduce risk when isolating with your 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 open the windows. Masks and ventilation are important in reducing COVID-19 from spreading.  

Exercising

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.

Managing screen time during isolation

Screen use can be part of a healthy lifestyle during isolation. The key things are that children enjoy a variety of activities, both with and without screens.

Activity ideas

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

Helping keep your tamariki mentally well

There are a variety of support, tools and resources to help young people manage anxiety due to the uncertainty and change caused by COVID-19.

The Melon app is an example of an online tool that offers help as part of the COVID-19 response.  Melon content specific to young people. It can be found at Melonhealth.

View tips and links to useful tools and information:

Look after the mental health of your tamariki – COVID-19 Health Hub

Other information

For information, support and advice about the health, development and wellbeing of your pēpi, tamariki and rangatahi, see:

For telephone advice or support call 24/7:

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