Cancer and cancer treatment can weaken the immune system. This means that a child with cancer is often at higher risk for infection and illness. Most children with cancer experience mild illness and do well if they get COVID-19 but more severe illness can occur, so close observation is needed.
Our current advice is to follow the recommended infection prevention guidelines (outlined above) to protect your child’s health.
Are children with cancer at higher risk of serious illness with COVID-19?
Unlike the adult population, the majority of COVID-19 infections in children with cancer are asymptomatic or with mild symptoms. The commonest symptoms are fever and cough. The risk of developing severe coronavirus disease and need for oxygen therapy is far less likely than in adults, but higher than in healthy children.
My child is currently receiving treatment for cancer – are they at an increased risk of getting COVID-19?
Current evidence shows that children with cancer have a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, and that they are more affected during the intensive phase of treatment. It is important to follow the recommended infection prevention guidelines (outlined above) to protect your child’s health. Having vaccinated carers/close contacts is an essential part to protecting your child from COVID-19.
Important: If your child develops a temperature of 38°C or over, or has trouble breathing, please seek an urgent medical review.
Speak to your child’s oncologist about the best plan for your child.
My child has completed their cancer treatment. Are they at increased risk?
Most children with cancer who have completed their planned treatment should have a relatively normal immune system within two to three months of completing therapy and are unlikely to be at increased risk of severe infection. No further special precautions are advised for these children at this stage.
Is it safe for my child to return to school?
In 2020, the Australian and New Zealand Children’s Haematology/Oncology Group (ANZCHOG) announced that it was safe for the vast majority of paediatric oncology and BMT patients to attend to school during the pandemic. Read more.
Check with your child’s oncologist if you have any questions or concerns about your child returning to school.