When children become ill it can be difficult for their parents and carers to always know the best way to care for them, particularly if your child is very young and they can’t tell you exactly what is wrong.
Here we provide you with information and links to where you can find more information and advice.
Concerned your child is unwell?
If you need instant advice when your child is ill, why not try the free HANDi Paediatric App.
It can advise on where to go and what to do based on your child’s symptoms. Get expert advice for common childhood illnesses.
The HANDI app offers simple and straightforward advice, for the following conditions in children:
- diarrhoea and vomiting
- high temperature
- ‘chesty baby’ illnesses, such as bronchiolitis, asthma and croup
- ‘chesty child’ illnesses such as wheezing and asthma
- abdominal pain
- common newborn problems.
If your child is unwell and you’re not sure where to start, contact NHS 111 by calling 111 or online at 111.nhs.uk. They can assess your child’s needs and advise on what to do and where to go.
Call 999 in a medical emergency. This is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.
Find out more about the different type of health services in Somerset and how you can help choose the right service for your child’s needs on our choose well pages.
Bronchiolitis and RSV advice
Winter is traditionally a time when respiratory infections are common. Although most of these are not serious in the vast majority of children and clear up in 2-3 weeks, symptoms can still be worrying and can cause complications in some children.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) can be more severe in:
- Premature babies
- Babies under 2 months
- Vulnerable infants with certain conditions (e.g. born prematurely or with a heart condition or respiratory illness) that increases their risk of acute respiratory tract infection.
Contact NHS 111 or your GP if:
- You’re worried about your child
- Your child has taken less than half their usual amount during the last 2 or 3 feeds, or they have had a dry nappy for 21 hours or more
- Your child has a persistent high temperature of 38C of above
- Your child seems very tired or irritable.
Find out more about treating RSV.
Good hygiene can help reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses:
- Carry tissues and use them to catch coughs or sneezes
- bin the used tissues as soon as possible and wash your hands with soap and water to kill the germs
- keep children with flu or bronchiolitis symptoms at home and reduce contacts where possible.
This year all children aged between 2-3 and all primary and secondary school children from reception to year 11 should receive the children’s flu vaccine . This is not only to stop them getting unwell with flu, but also to stop them spreading flu to other members of your family. If your child is at school, the school will arrange for them to be vaccinated.
The children’s nasal spray flu vaccine is safe and effective. It’s offered every year to children to help protect them against flu.
This year, it is especially important that your child receives their flu vaccine. By being vaccinated, your child is less likely to develop a flu-like illness (cough/fever). If your child develops such symptoms this winter, they will need to isolate and not attend nursery or school until they have received a negative PCR COVID-19 test.
If your child gets flu, they may need treatment in hospital and may transmit flu to other family members who may become unwell.
There are other groups of children with long-term health conditions that should have the flu vaccine every year. This includes children with weakened immune systems (including those on steroids or with problems with their spleen), chronic heart or lung problems, diabetes, asthma, chronic kidney or liver disease. It is especially important that these children are vaccinated because they have the greatest risk of becoming very unwell if they get flu.
If your child is aged between 6 months and 2 years and has a long-term health condition that makes them at higher risk from flu, they’ll be offered a flu vaccine injection instead of the nasal spray.
More information on the children’s flu vaccination.
Children aged 12 to 15 in England are being offered one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, following advice from the 4 UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs). You can read the information on the government website .
Like the flu and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines, the COVID-19 jabs are being delivered in schools by the Somerset School Aged Immunisation Nursing Team (SAINT) which works closely with schools to identify all eligible children. In line with standard practice for vaccinations in schools, consent letters are being sent out to parents and guardians with information on the COVID-19 vaccination.
In line with the national timetable, the SAINT team will visit all schools in Somerset by the end of November. Schools will be given between 1 – 2 weeks’ notice of the SAINT team’s visit.
12 – 15 year olds who are not in school will be contacted by the NHS about their vaccination. Any children who miss the SAINT team’s visit to their school, will also be contacted separately.
More information on the COVID-19 vaccination programme in Somerset.
Should my child go to school/nursery today?
It can be difficult to know when you need to keep your child off school or nursey. Your school or nursery will have a sickness policy which should provide details of when you should keep your child off school and how long for.
Here we’ve provided some general information for you.
Symptoms of COVID-19: The main symptoms of COVID-19 are
- High temperature
- Continuous, new cough
- A loss or change to sense of smell or taste.
If your child has any of the main symptoms of COVID-19, even if they’re mild:
- Get a PCR test (test that is sent to a lab) to check if they have COVID-19 as soon as possible.
- Your child should stay at home and not have visitors (self-isolate) until you get the test result – they can only leave home to have the test.
More information on COVID-19 symptoms in children.
Flu: Children should go back to school when recovered. Find out more about the flu vaccine for children.
Coughs and colds: If your child has a cold and is otherwise well, they can usually attend school or nursery. Advice on treating colds in children.
if your child has symptoms of COVID-19 follow the guidance on COVID-19.
Diarrhoea and vomiting: Children can usually return to school or nursery 48 hours after the last episode of diarrhoea and vomiting. Advice on treating diarrhoea and vomiting.
Chickenpox: chickenpox are generally infectious from 2 days before the rash appears to 5 days after the onset of the rash. Most settings ask that you keep you child home for 5 days, but all spots should have crusted over before children return to nursery or school. Advice on treating chickenpox.
Information on local Somerset services for parents and children
- Parenting (somerset.gov.uk) – website providing information to parents and carers who are looking for information, advice and services to support them being a parent.
- Somerset Parent Carer Forum – Somerset Parent Carer Forum is an independent not for profit Community Interest Company formed by parent carers
- Somerset Parent and carer toolkit – information to support parents and carers to find the information to help with their role of ‘being a parent’