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COVID-19 and Children - Information for Patients

Frequently asked questions for BC Children’s patients about COVID-19.
March 31, 2021

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the infectious disease that is affecting many countries around the world. Updates to this page will be made as the situation develops and this information is currently up-to-date as of March 31, 2021. For the latest information, please visit the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) web page:

Covid-19 and pregnancy

Visit bcwomens.ca for info specific to pregnancy, childbirth and COVID-19.

 

If your child is waiting for a surgery, you will be contacted to reschedule their surgery.

‎Please call the clinic you have the appointment with and share information about the symptoms (including any new fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, painful swallowing, stuffy or runny nose, loss of sense of smell, headache, muscle aches, fatigue or loss of appetite). A doctor or nurse will provide guidance. 

 

We understand that many people are worried about visiting hospitals or clinics during the pandemic, but it is still safe to seek care. You can expect to see additional measures in place to protect your child, family and our staff during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These include active screening for COVID-19 symptoms at each entrance by hospital staff, followed by a request to clean your hands. All patients and visitors will be offered medical masks at the entrance.

 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have increased the number and types of health-care services that we can provide virtually. We will continue to provide those virtual appointments unless in-person appointments are required for patient care.

 

During COVID-19, we have limited entrances to BC Children’s to facilitate active screening. Access is limited to entrances 55 (Emergency Department), 5 (Sunny Hill), 11 (off Oak Street), 93 (off Willow Street) and 53 (Teck Acute Care Centre). Please see this campus map for the locations of these entrances.


At each entrance, you will be asked a few questions and offered direction. A hand cleaning station is available. You will also be offered a medical mask to wear.   

Visitors to the hospital

To keep our patients, families and staff safe and in keeping with the provincial health officer’s recommendations for physical distancing, we are limiting the number of visitors entering our buildings. Until further notice, these are the visitor restrictions at BC Children’s Hospital and Sunny Hill:

Outpatient Clinics: ONE adult caregiver/support person
In-Patient Areas: TWO adult caregivers/support people
Emergency Department: ONE adult caregiver/support person

Hospital parking

Hospital parking fees around the province have been suspended as of April 1, 2020 until further notice, for patients, visitors and staff.

The most important thing you can do to prevent COVID-19 and other illnesses is to clean your hands regularly, avoid touching your face and stay one or two metres from other people. 


Find out more on the BCCDC website about:

 

Contact your primary care provider, local public health office, or call 8-1-1 (HealthLinkBC). HealthLinkBC has a translation service for over 130 languages. You can also take the BC COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool at bc.thrive.health. To get non-medical information about COVID-19, call 1-888-COVID19 (1-888-268-4319) or text 604-630-0300. This service is available every day from 7:30 am to 8:00 pm. Information is available in more than 110 languages.


If your child is showing symptoms of COVID-19 and needs to be tested, you can show them the videos below and read about helping children through a COVID-19 test.

You will be asked to clean your hands when entering the hospital and wear a medical mask, which will be offered at the entrance. Children ages three and older are also requested to wear a medical mask if they are medically able. For additional information about masks, please review this information on the BCCDC’s website.


When should I seek urgent care?

Take your child immediately to Emergency or call 911 if your child has:

  • blue lips and skin that appears pale
  • trouble breathing, especially with rapid or laboured breathing patterns
  • a persistent high fever for more than three days
  • ingested a toxic chemical, including a suspected drug or alcohol overdose
  • excessive coughing, especially with a fever
  • excessive vomiting, particularly if it is bright green or there is blood in the vomit
  • an injured limb that looks swollen or crooked
  • fallen more than five feet or 1.5 metres
  • started vomiting after a head injury
  • a visible bump after a head injury and the child is less than three months old
  • lost consciousness

‎So far, COVID-19 has affected adults much more than children. We think it is less severe, particularly in children under the age of 10.

 

The current COVID-19 vaccines have been tested and approved for use in people over the age of 16 (Pfizer) and 18 (Moderna). Children are not eligible to receive the vaccine at this time. More information about priority groups for vaccination in B.C. is available on the BCCDC website and when children are eligible to be vaccinated, more information will be available on that website.

 
On March 23, 2021, BC announced its plan to vaccinate those who are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 if they were to get the virus. This group, which has been called those who are 'clinically extremely vulnerable" (CEV) has been identified through a thorough review of the scientific evidence from around the world combined with expert clinical opinion from here in BC.   

What should you do if you think your child is in this CEV group? 
  1. Go to BC's immunization website at www.gov.bc.ca/cevcovid to learn more about the process
  2. Go to the BCCDC website and see the patient resources at www.bccdc.ca/vaccineconsiderations#cev for more information
  3. Watch your mail for a letter, signed by Dr Bonnie Henry, which should arrive to you by April 15th. 
  4. Once your letter arrives, it is your invitation to book your vaccine no matter your age group. 
  5. If, after April 15th, your CEV invitation letter has not arrived to your home, please reach out to your family primary care provider or your specialist team. 

After April 15th, individuals who have not received a letter signed by Dr. Bonnie Henry, but believe they should be vaccinated as a 'clinically extremely vulnerable' patient, may contact their physician. If your physician agrees that you fulfill the CEV criteria, he/she/they can complete an attestation form after April 15th, which you may use to register for a vaccination appointment. For more information, please visit the Government of B.C. web page on "Vaccines for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable".

 

‎If your child is at higher risk for COVID-19 complications, follow general infection prevention strategies: clean your hands regularly, avoid touching your face, and stay one or two metres from other people. Should your child become ill, seek medical help early. Try to have enough medicine for two weeks at home. For more information, see the BCCDC website.

During the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic in B.C., children with medical complexity have had similar

rates of infection as children without chronic conditions.

Find out more on this: 

 

The BC Autism Assessment Network (BCAAN), which is operated out of Sunny Hill will continue to offer portions of the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) assessments remotely and in-person. 

Remote options are being provided to families at the time of scheduling. Depending on the age and needs of your child, you will be offered a fully virtual assessment or you may need to bring your child in for an in-person assessment. 

All outpatient programs at Sunny Hill are able to provide remote assistance to families. Sunny Hill encourages virtual appointments, reducing face to face interactions as much as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you have any concerns please call the BC Autism Assessment Network at 604-453-8394 and your call will be directed to the appropriate person.

In general – with viral illness that includes a fever, muscle aches, or difficulty breathing – moderate or vigorous exercise should be avoided. If symptoms worsen, exercise should be stopped. 


With an asymptomatic or mild infection of COVID-19, moderate or vigorous exercise should be avoided until the child/youth has been asymptomatic for seven to 14 days.

A gradual return to activity typically involves gradual increases in intensity and duration of exercise over a period of time, but depends on the severity and duration of the illness. Please work on your child’s plan to return to activity with your health-care provider.

Getting your child tested for COVID-19

If your child is showing symptoms of COVID-19 and needs to be tested, the BCCDC has a video to watch on how to provide a mouth rinse and gargle sample. More information is here.

 


BC Children's has created a video to show them before their nose swab test so they know what to expect. Read the story and watch the video:

 

COVID-19 testing in children and youth is done by swishing and gargling sterile salt water and spitting it into a tube, or by using a swab to collect a sample from their nose. Most school-aged children from kindergarten through to Grade 12 who go to a COVID-19 collection centre can do the mouth rinse and gargle sample. The nose swab is used for younger children or those who may not be able to follow the swish, gargle and spit instructions. Either test will accurately detect if your child has COVID-19. 


Practice the swish, gargle and spit technique with water at home before going to the collection centre. Wait at least two hours between practicing and doing the test as practicing could affect test results. Ask your child not to swallow the water or talk when they practice. 

Before you arrive, please make sure your child does not eat or drink anything (including water) 30 minutes prior to testing. For older children and youth, please also ensure they do not chew gum, smoke or vape 30 minutes prior as that could affect the test. 

When you arrive, sanitize your and your child’s hands and wear the medical masks that will be offered to you. Children three and older are also requested to wear a mask, if they are medically able. Check in with a nurse and if there is a line, you will be asked to wait outside or in your car until a nurse comes to get you.

Information about how to get test results is on the BCCDC website. If the test is positive, you will be contacted by Public Health.

 

More online resources about COVID-19

BCCDC physician epidemiologist, Dr. Eleni Galanis, has this helpful video on how to protect your family: 
This link has instructions for children on when and how to wash their hands: 
For the latest COVID-19 updates, follow the BCCDC Twitter account @CDCofBC and read the latest BC Government news releases on COVID-19 at https://news.gov.bc.ca/Search?q=COVID.







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