Advice for children on handwashing, hand sanitizer, using masks and vaccination.
Getting vaccinated helps protect you from COVID-19. Vaccination is currently available for youth age 12 and older. Having young people vaccinated helps protect the people around them too including those who cannot be vaccinated. Everyone eligible should get two doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
One of the best ways for all age groups to prevent infection and protect loved ones is to wash their hands regularly and avoid touching their face.
Promote proper and frequent handwashing through signs/pictures, role modelling and creating a routine for hand washing.
Liquid or foam soap is preferred for hand washing.
Any temperature of water can be used to wash hands. Cold water and warm water are equally effective at cleaning hands as long as soap is used.
This video shows your child how wash their hands:
If washing hands is not possible, you can use certain alcohol-based Health Canada approved hand sanitizers on children. Please read labels carefully as some products are for adult use only and should not be used by children, pregnant or breastfeeding women. Hand sanitizer is not recommended for use on infants as their skin is still developing and changing.
All children under the age of six should be supervised when using hand sanitizer. If hands are visibly dirty, clean first before using a hand sanitizer. Use enough product to cover the front and back of a child’s hands and between their fingers. Make sure the hand sanitizer has dried completely before children resume regular activities and prevent children from putting wet hands in eyes or mouth. Never apply hand sanitizer over broken skin or on scrapes or rashes.
Take care when storing hand sanitizer. Keep products safely away from children and consider buying plain versions, without attractive colours, scents or glitter. Some newer hand sanitizers come in bottles, so replace bottle caps with spray nozzles or pumps to reduce the risk of accidental consumption.
If a child accidentally consumes any amount of hand sanitizer, call the BC Poison Control Centre: 1-800-567-8911. Do not wait for symptoms of accidental poisoning to occur before calling.
Remember that using a mask alone is not enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Children who wear a mask still need to:
- avoid touching their face,
- wash their hands often,
- stay home when sick and minimize physical contact with other children or adults.
Children under two years of age should not wear masks because there are risks of breathing problems, choking or strangulation. For young children over the age of two, masks are generally not recommended as they can be irritating and may lead to increased touching of the face and eyes. If an older child wants to wear a mask: show them how to do so safely
Remind children that other children and adults have reasons for wearing or not wearing masks, so it is important to always be kind and respectful to others.
Visit the BCCDC masks page
for more information on when to wear a mask and types of masks.