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Illness and medical care

Children are at a low risk of catching and spreading COVID-19. In BC, children have had a lower rate of COVID-19 infection than adults, and often have less severe complications.

Last updated: June 4, 2021

What is the risk of COVID-19 to children?

Children who have developed COVID-19 have most likely acquired it from adults in the household setting as COVID-19 is more likely to spread between adults than among children. 

Some children have a higher chance of more serious symptoms if they get COVID-19. This includes children under 1 year of age, those with weakened immune systems and those with pre-existing lung conditions.  Learn more COVID-19 and children with immune compromise.

Check with your healthcare provider if you have any specific concerns.

Ensuring you follow public health prevention strategies (such as frequent and thorough hand washing, avoiding touching your face, staying home when sick, and avoiding direct physical contact / maintaining physical distancing) can reduce the risk of COVID-19 for everyone.

COVID-19 and Children

Symptoms and spread

Many children can have the virus without showing any symptoms. However, there is no clear evidence that children without symptoms pose a risk to other children or to adults. 

When children do get symptoms, they generally have much milder symptoms than adults. For children, it’s important to think about what is usual or unusual about their specific symptoms. For example, a child may have a low grade fever, irritability and a runny nose because they are currently teething or a child may have a runny nose due to seasonal allergies. Check with your health care provider if you have concerns.

Visit the BCCDC COVID-19 symptoms  and BCCDC COVID-19 how it spreads page to learn more about the symptoms and spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19 testing

If your child develops symptoms of COVID-19, determine whether they may need testing. B.C. offers two options for COVID-19 testing in children and youth. Most school-age children can use the mouth rinse and gargle sample collection for a COVID-19 test. 

Seeking medical care

Getting medical care for your child is safe. Offices, clinics and hospitals have the supplies and procedures in place to keep everyone safe during your visit. Very few children have become seriously ill from COVID 19. It is safe for your child to get the medical care they need, like routine immunizations or going to the hospital for broken bones or wounds that may need stitches. 

Visit Child Health BC for more information on seeking medical care.


It is important to keep immunizations up to date for your child. 

Immunization is an essential service and health units are continuing to hold clinics during COVID-19. However, services may vary. Clinic changes have been made to ensure safety. 

Youth age 12 and older can receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Find information for families on vaccination for young people age 12 to 17.

Visit ImmunizeBC for the latest information on immunization during COVID-19.

When to seek emergency medical care

Take your child immediately to your nearest emergency department or call 911 if they: 

  • Are having difficulty breathing
  • Have blue lips or skin, or appears very pale
  • Have red and/or swollen lips or tongue
  • Are coughing excessively, particularly with a fever
  • Are vomiting excessively, especially if there is blood in the vomit
  • Have diarrhea and vomiting, is not producing tears, and has not urinated for several hours
  • Have a high fever, appear very sleepy, and have not improved with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil).
  • Are under three months of age and has a fever of 38 degrees C (100.4 degrees F) or greater
  • Have pain or pressure in the chest that does not go away
  • There is new confusion
  • Are unable to wake or stay awake
  • Have severe abdominal pain
  • Have a spreading rash 

Learn more about what to expect when visiting the ER.

Children with immune compromise or medical complexities

Information for families of children with:

Neurodevelopmental diagnoses during COVID-19

Neurodevelopmental diagnoses include attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, learning disabilities, intellectual disability, conduct disorders, cerebral palsy, and impairments in vision and hearing. Here is a list of resources with information on navigating services, organizations you can connect with for support and resources to help you and your child at home during this time.

‎Child-Bright Network: COVID-19 resources for Canadian youth with disabilities, their families and support teams.

Family Support Institute of BC: Providing relevant COVID-19 information, resources, and updates to better support families across B.C. faced with the extraordinary circumstances that come with having a family member who has a disability.

Sunny Hill Education Resource Centre: A general resource for families with children with neurodevelopmental diagnoses (not COVID-19 specific).

‎Canadian Association for Community Living is sharing disability-related resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic for families of children with intellectual disabilities.

Resources and webinars specific to COVID-19 for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families across B.C.

  • Autism Speaks Canada – COVID-19 information and resources from Autism Speaks Canada’s Autism Response Team

Provincial Outreach Program for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (POPFASD): Providing guidance & videos to help parents and teachers maintain routines, schedules, structure, and growth at home amidst this complicated time.

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