How To Protect Yourself & Others Against COVID-19
How To Protect Yourself & Others Against COVID-19
If your child or you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, stay at home. Call your GP or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice.
Key points about protecting against COVID-19
- COVID-19 mostly spreads in particles that escape from an infected person's mouth or nose when they breathe, speak, cough, sneeze or sing
- the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 increases the closer you are to a person and the longer you are close to a person
- COVID-19 is more likely to spread in crowded spaces and indoor spaces without good airflow
- if your baby or child has any cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, keep them away from daycare or school until they no longer have symptoms, and call Healthline on 0800 358 5453
- the COVID-19 vaccine can protect tamariki aged 5 years or older
- the COVID-19 vaccine is also available to tamariki from 6 months who are at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19
How easy is it to catch and spread COVID-19?
COVID-19 is usually spread from person to person. When an infected person breathes, speaks, coughs, sneezes or sings, they may spread particles containing the virus.
These particles range in size. Larger and heavier particles - droplets - quickly fall to the ground or other surfaces within seconds or minutes. Smaller particles - aerosols - can remain airborne for minutes to hours. Spread of the virus by aerosols seems to be more important than previously thought.
The risk of catching COVID-19 is higher:
- in indoor spaces that do not have good airflow
- in crowded places with many people nearby
- in close-contact settings, such as close-range conversations, singing, or shouting
The risk is lower outside, with fewer people, and if people are widely spread.
How long does it take for symptoms to appear?
COVID-19 symptoms tend to start after 5 days but can take up to 14 days to show after a person has been infected. Your child or you can pass the virus on to others before you know you have it - from up to 2 days before symptoms develop.
What measures can help reduce the spread of COVID-19?
Everyone aged 5 years and over in Aotearoa can have their COVID-19 immunisation. The COVID-19 vaccine is also available to tamariki from 6 months who are at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
Check KidsHealth's information about COVID-19 immunisation in children.
You can also check the 'Unite Against COVID-19' website for up to date information on the COVID-19 vaccine.
You can book your vaccine online
Watch a video about how the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine works (The Immunisation Advisory Centre).
You can also watch the video in te reo Māori and in Samoan.
Keep your child home from daycare or school if they're sick
If your baby or child has any cold or flu-like symptoms, keep them home from daycare or school. Phone Healthline on 0800 611 116 (for general health advice) or 0800 358 5453 (for COVID-19 advice), or your doctor, as soon as possible. Make sure to phone your doctor before visiting.
Please keep your baby or child away from daycare or school until they no longer have symptoms.
Masks reduce the risk
Wearing a mask or face covering can reduce the risk of people who have COVID-19 spreading the virus to others.
A mask or face covering can help stop infectious droplets spreading when a person speaks, laughs, coughs or sneezes.
Find out the latest recommendations about face masks at the Unite Against COVID-19 website.
Watch Lola and Marlon show Kiwi kids how to mask up.
Check why wearing masks and creating airflow helps protect against COVID-19
Watch a video showing the knot and tuck method to make your mask more efficient (University of Auckland video with Dr Joel Rindelaub).
Wash your hands often for 20 seconds
Washing your hands, and encouraging your child to wash theirs, is one of the easiest ways to keep safe. Wash often with soap for 20 seconds. Then dry. This kills the virus by bursting its protective bubble.
Helping tamariki wash their hands
You can make handwashing easier for children by setting up a stool so they can reach water and soap by themselves. You can make it fun for them by singing their favourite songs while you help them rub their hands.
Check out this Sesame Street video about handwashing, for younger children.
Cover coughs and sneezes
Cough or sneeze into your elbow - coughing or sneezing into your elbow catches the droplets and stops them getting onto your hands. That means you won't spread the virus to other people and make them sick too.
You can also cough or sneeze into tissues. Put any used tissues in the bin or a bag immediately. Then wash your hands thoroughly. Then dry.
Keep your distance from people you don't know
The risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 increases the closer you are to a person and the longer you are close to that person.
The risk is highest in crowded and indoor spaces without good airflow. The risk is lower outside, where there are fewer people, and when you are further away from others.
More KidsHealth content on COVID-19
Find out about caring for a child with COVID-19
Find out what you need to know about COVID-19
See all KidsHealth's content on COVID-19
See all KidsHealth's content on COVID-19 immunisation in children
This page last reviewed 02 May 2023.
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