Winter and your sick child

As a parent, having a sick child can be a scary time, and it can be hard to know what to do, or where to get help.

If your child has flu-like symptoms
1. Always call Triple Zero (000) if your child needs urgent medical care
2. COVID symptoms – get them tested
3. Mild symptoms, like cough and runny nose - rest and care at home
4. Contact your GP or paediatrician if you’re worried or your child isn’t getting better
5. If you don’t know what to do, or need access to a list of local GPs visit the Healthdirect website or call 1800 022 222 for 24/7 advice

Severely unwell children

If your child is severely unwell, with symptoms like difficulty breathing, call 000 immediately.

Moderately unwell children

Test your child for COVID-19 if your child has mild symptoms including:

  • a slight fever
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny nose
  • stomach ache
  • constipation
  • vomiting and/or diarrhoea

Keep your child comfortable at home with paracetamol or ibuprofen, plenty of fluids and rest.

Concerned parents

If your child isn’t getting better or you’re concerned:

  • Contact your GP or paediatrician - in person or virtually. They know your child best.
  • If your regular GP is unavailable, you can use Healthdirect’s health service finder to find the nearest GP service open now.
  • You can also call Healthdirect 24/7 on 1800 022 222 to get trusted, expert advice from a nurse over the phone. It’s free, quick and easy.

If you’re still worried, visit your local emergency department.

Please be patient with staff. The sickest people are seen first, so you may need to wait.

Flu information

We’re already seeing high flu cases this year, especially in children.

Children aged 6 months and over are eligible for the 2022 flu vaccine. Protect your family and get vaccinated today at your GP or pharmacy.

COVID-19 is still circulating in the community. If your child is 5 years and over, they are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination – it’s their best protection.

Useful factsheets

It’s important to understand how to best care for your sick child, and when to seek medical attention.

Some helpful fact sheets include:

Can't find what you're looking for? A full list of kids health fact sheets are available here.

You can also visit Healthdirect's colds and flu page for practical tips and advice on managing cold and flu symptoms.