COVID-19 COVID-19

Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a new strain of coronavirus (now identified and officially named SARS-Cov-2). Some coronaviruses can cause illness like the common cold, while others can cause more serious diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). SARS-CoV-2 causes a mild illness in many people, but in a minority of people it causes a severe respiratory and multi-organ disease.
COVID-19 spreads between people, usually when a sick person coughs or sneezes. You might catch it if someone with the virus sneezes or coughs near you. You could also catch the virus if they have coughed or sneezed onto a surface (like a door handle) that you touch, getting the droplets on your hands and then transferring them to your mouth, nose or eyes when you touch your face or eat. Worldwide, most people infected with COVID-19 have caught the virus from another sick person who lives in their household. This is particularly true for children. In in most cases children have caught the virus from an adult within their household.
Everyone who gets coronavirus (COVID-19) will experience it a little differently. Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • fever
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • shortness of breath
  • runny nose
  • diarrhoea
  • vomiting or nausea
  • loss of the sense of smell or taste
  • muscle or joint pain
  • loss of appetite.
If your child is unwell with fever, cough, sore throat, or shortness of breath, visit your nearest testing clinic.

If you are unsure if your child has symptoms of COVID-19, or if your child has a sudden onset of any COVID-19 symptoms, you should contact your local GP, hospital Emergency Department, or call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).

Before attending a GP clinic, it is important to phone ahead so they can make appropriate preparations for your visit.

Based on what we currently know about coronaviruses, those most at risk of serious infection are:

  • elderly people
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (as they have higher rates of chronic illness)
  • people with chronic medical conditions
Internationally, data from the first three waves of the pandemic continues to show that children are affected less commonly and less severely than adults by COVID-19.  Even children with serious underlying conditions will mostly only experience a mild illness with COVID-19. For the best advice for your child and their specific condition, speak to their specialist.

For more on COVID-19 and children, see the ‘Health Advice’ section on our Information for children, young people and families page.

One of the most severe presentations of COVID-19 is a complex multi-system inflammatory condition terms Paediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome – Temporally Associated with SARS-CoV-2 (or PIMS-TS). It has some features that are similar to other rare auto-inflammation diseases, such as Kawasaki disease. Doctors from around the world don’t know why a very small number of children develop this condition when most other children are not affected. This is an extremely uncommon disease and most children who have developed the condition, including critically ill children, have all made a good recovery. If your child becomes unwell after having COVID-19 and you are worried about their condition, you should seek help from a health professional.
Practising good hand and respiratory hygiene is important to help protect you and your family.

Always remember to:

  • clean your hands regularly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs.
  • cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or flexed elbow when coughing or sneezing
  • avoid contact with anyone who has cold-like symptoms
  • keep your children at home from school or childcare if they are unwell
  • try to stay at least 1.5 metres away from people coughing or sneezing
  • if you or your child are unwell, avoid sharing utensils, cups and glasses
  • get vaccinated.
Children’s Health Queensland recommends all families stay up to date with government advice about children attending school, unless a child has a chronic or complex health condition and have been advised by a specialist that they should remain at home. If you are concerned about your child, please contact their specialist or GP.

For the latest school-related information, read these frequently asked questions

The most important things your child can do to stay COVID-safe in school, as well as the wider community, are to wash their hands frequently (especially before eating), practise physical distancing with their friends and practise good respiratory hygiene (cover coughs and sneezes). If they are unwell, you should also keep them at home (and get them tested if they have any symptoms of COVID-19).

For the latest news and information on current restrictions and health directions in Queensland, visit the Queensland Health website. Check the Department of Education website for information on possible school closures.

For more information about our services at the Queensland Children’s Hospital and across Children’s Health Queensland, visit our Service changes page.
In Queensland, anyone who has the following symptoms should be tested, no matter how mild:

  • fever (or history of fever) OR respiratory symptoms (cough, sore throat, shortness of breath). Children may also experience other symptoms, such as runny nose, headache, loss of smell, loss of taste, nausea or vomiting, muscle pain, joint pain, fatigue, diarrhoea, or a loss of appetite. Symptoms can vary depending on each case.
  • People in quarantine, in accordance with current quarantine protocols.
  • Contacts of confirmed or suspect cases.
  • If you are concerned that your child may have COVID-19 and requires medical treatment, please take them to the your nearest Emergency Department.
    Call emergency services on 000 if your child is very sick.
Queensland Health recommends that anyone, including children, with symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, loss of sense of taste or smell) gets tested each time they develop these symptoms.
You can tell your child that the swab won’t cause them pain, but it might feel a little uncomfortable for a few seconds. Please be assured our nurses will make sure your child is comfortable and settled before performing the test.

Please be assured our testing staff will make sure your child is comfortable and settled before performing the test.

If you child is sensitive about being touched or gets scared or aggravated in a medical setting, let staff know so they can work with your child in a way that keeps them calm.

Saliva testing is a test that uses the saliva from your mouth to test for COVID-19. The throat and nasal swab (also called PCR testing) remains the best test for anyone with symptoms because it is more accurate. At this time, the saliva test is only used as a screening test for some people without symptoms who will need frequent testing (people who are asymptomatic). Children often find it difficult to produce saliva for tests, so this may not prove appropriate for children.

PCR tests are generally more sensitive and accurate at detecting a current or recent infection. This test must be conducted at a COVID testing clinic by a health professional and results will usually take at least 24 hours. This is the best test to use if your child has symptoms.

A RAT kit is best used when your child is a close contact and has no symptoms. Kits can be purchased at various locations such as supermarkets and pharmacies, where available. Kits may also be provided at some COVID testing clinics. A RAT can be conducted at home and usually takes 15-30 minutes to give a result.

You can use a PCR test or RAT kit to test your child for COVID-19.

If you have been asked to isolate your child until your get their test results, it would be appropriate to tell your child’s school that they will be absent because they have to isolate after a COVID-19 test.
No, other members of the family or household who are feeling well are not required to stay at home or self-isolate while you wait for your child’s test results, unless directed by public health.

Children and adults will only need to self-isolate if they have been in contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19.

No, other members of the family or household do not need to be tested unless they have been in contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19 or they are feeling unwell.
If the result is positive, your child will need to stay at home in self-isolation for 7 days and until they recover. If their symptoms get worse, they may be admitted to hospital.

Please notify any household members or house-hold like contacts (a person who has spent more than four hours with the diagnosed person in a house or other place of accommodation care facility or similar) of the positive result and tell them to isolate and get tested.

If you haven’t done so, report your positive RAT result to Queensland Health. You do not need to take a PCR test to confirm a positive RAT result.

If your child’s test result is negative, you will receive a text message from the public health unit to let you know. If you or your child/family are not under a quarantine order and your child is well, they can return to school. If they are still feeling sick, you should keep them at home until the symptoms resolve, so they don’t spread the germs they do have.
In some cases, a result may be returned on the same day as your test but you should allow at least up to four days to receive the result.

With current high case and testing numbers, results may take longer than usual. If you are concerned, please contact 134 HEALTH.

For information about getting your child or young person vaccinated, visit our dedicated Vaccination page.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has approved the use of the COVID-19 Comirnaty (Pfizer) and Spikevax (Moderna) COVID-19 vaccine in Australia for people aged 12 years and over.

The Pfizer vaccine has been clinically tested and proven safe and effective for people aged 5 years and older.

Read the latest information for children, young people and parents.

Before a COVID-19 vaccine is used in Australia, it must be approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The TGA assesses the safety, quality and effectiveness of the vaccines before they are registered for use.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) then reviews the available data on the safety and efficacy, the risk of COVID 19 infection for a specific group, and evidence of wider benefits and risks of vaccination.
Research from the United States supports the safety of the Pfizer vaccine in children aged 12 years and older. A trial of more than 2,200 adolescents showed the vaccine was safe and effective in reducing infection and produced a detectable immune response.
The clinical trial data for COVID-19 vaccination in children aged 5-11 years also shows the Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective.
If you have specific clinical questions about the vaccination, please speak to your child’s treating specialist or General Practitioner.

Book an appointment

  • Queensland Health vaccination location
    Registering your child online is the best way to secure an appointment at a Queensland Health vaccination location, including the Queensland Children’s Hospital. Walk-in appointments are available at selected locations, but cannot be guaranteed.

Once you have registered, you will receive an email inviting you to book an appointment in your local area when appointments become available.

Note: Parents and carers should follow the steps in this guide: Register and book on behalf of someone else (PDF). If you need help making a booking on behalf of your child, contact 134 COVID (134 268).

Two doses of the vaccine are required for full vaccination against COVID-19.

For young people aged 12 to 17 years, the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine should be administered between 3 and 6 weeks from the first.

It’s recommended children aged 5 to 11 receive their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine 8 weeks after the first dose.

Once your child has received their first dose, an appointment for their second dose should be made for you by the clinic. The recommended wait time between having a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines, including the seasonal influenza vaccine, is seven (7) days.

Yes, vaccinations for children aged 5-11 years can be booked via the Queensland Health website.

The single most effective tool available to prevent infection in children is to reduce infections in adults. Countries around the world have demonstrated the effectiveness of vaccination in achieving this. Young children who cannot receive a vaccine are protected by the vaccination of adults around them.

Additionally, physical distancing, good hand and respiratory hygiene are all important preventative actions we can take to prevent COVID-19 infection.

Yes, it is safe to attend the Queensland Children’s Hospital whether it’s through the Emergency department or for an appointment or planned admission. We have precautions in place to protect all visitors to the hospital and are ready and prepared to respond to COVID-19 presentations.
All urgent surgeries are proceeding as normal at this time. If there are any changes to your child’s scheduled surgery, we will contact you directly.
We have made some changes to the way some outpatient appointments are offered at the Queensland Children’s Hospital and our community sites during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes conducting more appointments via phone and teleconferencing.

If there are any changes to your child’s outpatient appointment, we will contact you directly.

If you have any queries about your child’s outpatient appointment, please call the Children’s Health Queensland Outpatient Call Centre on 1300 762 831.

Face masks are required to enter the Queensland Children’s Hospital and all other Children’s Health Queensland facilities, under current Public Health Directions. We recommend you check our latest updates page before your visit to see the restrictions and precautions in place to keep everyone safe.

Children under 12 are not required to wear a mask but encouraged to wear one if they are willing to. It is not recommended that children under the age of two wear a mask for safety reasons. Face masks will be provided at the entry to the Queensland Children’s Hospital.

Read more about how to safely wear a face mask for you and your family.

Visitors may be limited at the Queensland Children’s Hospital and Children’s Health Queensland facilities including the Ellen Barron Family Centre, Jacaranda Place, and community clinics, depending on the current Public Health Directions. We recommend you check our latest updates page before your visit to see the current restrictions and precautions in place to keep everyone safe.

To protect the health and safety of patients, staff and other visitors, you should not visit the hospital if you:

  • are unwell
  • have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or asked to quarantine
  • have returned from overseas in the last 14 days (excluding safe travel zone countries)
  • have had contact with a person with COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • have visited a COVID-19 hotspot in the last 14 days or since the hotspot was declared (whichever is shorter)
  • have visited an interstate exposure venue in the last 14 days unless an exemption has been granted for an end of life visit
  • have been in an interstate area of concern in the last 14 days or since the identified start date (whichever is shorter), unless they have received a negative COVID-19 test since entering Queensland
  • have been tested for COVID-19 and are waiting to receive the results (except for tests due to surveillance testing obligations)
  • have COVID-19 symptoms of fever (37.5 degrees or more), cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, loss of smell or taste, runny nose, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting or fatigue.

On arrival at the Queensland Children’s Hospital, you will be asked a series of questions about your current health. We understand this may cause a short delay, but we appreciate your patience and support in helping us keep everyone at the hospital safe.

Yes.  If we confirm that your child should enter Queensland for essential healthcare, you will need a Queensland entry pass and a copy of your child’s appointment letter when you present to the Queensland Children’s Hospital or other Children’s Health Queensland facility.

Where possible, and when clinically safe to do so, the hospital may reschedule non-urgent appointments or offer appointments via phone or video conference. If there are any changes to your child’s appointment, we will contact you directly.

For more information about entering Queensland for essential health care, visit the Queensland Health website.

Interstate families with a valid Queensland Entry Pass can stay in Queensland for a series of outpatient appointments, without the need to quarantine.

Families who live in or have visited a declared hotspot in the past 14 days are no longer required to have a day 5 COVID-19 PCR test.

Families that do not meet the eligibility criteria for a Queensland Entry Pass may be required to quarantine in government-arranged accommodation.  These families may be eligible for a Queensland Government fee waiver, for more information visit the Queensland Government website. Families may also be eligible for support through their own state’s/territory’s patient travel and accommodation assistance scheme. For advice, contact your state/territory health department.

You can also contact the Queensland Children’s Hospital Welfare Service for support during this time. To speak to the team, phone 07 3068 2940 (8am-6pm, Monday to Friday) or email QCH-welfare@health.qld.gov.au. For support on weekends and public holidays, contact QCH Switchboard on 3068 1111 and asked to be transferred to the Social Work team.

Questions?

Call 134 COVID (13 42 68) for general information about COVID-19, including testing and vaccination. You can also visit the Queensland Health COVID-19 website.
For questions about COVID-19 and your child's care at Children's Health Queensland, please email COVIDquestions@health.qld.gov.au.
Note: This email should not be used for clinical enquiries. If you are concerned about your child’s health, seek medical advice from your child’s specialist, GP or other healthcare provider.
In an emergency always call 000.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Quick links

Latest news and advice
Queensland Health: COVID-19
Queensland Health: COVID-19 translated resources
Queensland Government: Unite Against COVID-19
Australian Government: COVID-19 Health Alerts
COVID-19 vaccines

Check-in Qld app
Download and install the app from Apple App Store or Google Play


Health advice
over the phone

134 COVID
(13 42 68)

134 HEALTH
(13 43 25 84)

In an emergency, always call 000 and ask for an ambulance.