Early childhood infections, including Coronavirus: Advice and guidance

Useful information and resources for those working with early years children
Reaching Families "social animation" designed as a tool to help parents talk to their children about coronavirus and the "new normal" we are all trying to adapt to.

It is important that vaccines are given on time for the best protection, but if you or your child missed a vaccine, contact your GP to catch up.

Please see the NHS website for the vaccination schedule: 

NHS vaccinations and when to have them - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

MMR and Polio catch-up vaccinations
The NHS in north east London is encouraging all parents of children aged 1 to 11 who are not yet up-to-date with their routine vaccinations for polio and measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR vaccination) to come forward.

You can contact your GP, or if your child is aged 4 -11 book one directly by calling 0208 017 4292 (visit here for more information on local catch up clinics in your area).

Parents of children aged 4 - 11, whose vaccination record says they are behind on polio and measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccinations will also be contacted by an organisation called Vaccination UK, who have been employed by the NHS to arrange catch up doses at a local clinic or at school.

Why are we doing this?
Measles cases are rising in London. There is no cure and vaccination is the only protection against becoming seriously unwell. The virus infects the mouth, nose, throat and lungs, then spreads throughout the body, causing severe disease, which can result in complications and even death.

Measles is one of the world’s most contagious diseases, spread by close or direct contact with an infected person via coughing or sneezing. One person infected by measles can infect nine out of 10 of their unvaccinated close contacts.

If you are vaccinated you are protected. The measles vaccine has been in use for about 60 years, is safe and effective and has reduced cases by 99.9% in the UK. It is usually incorporated with rubella and mumps vaccines in the MMR vaccination.

Polio can lead to paralysis and in some cases, even death. There is no cure for polio, vaccination is the only protection. In 2022, polio virus was found in sewage samples in London, suggesting that the virus has been spreading between people.

Most children in north east London (77%) have had both doses of the MMR vaccine by the age of 5 and three doses of the polio vaccine by age 5 (children get an additional polio dose at age 14).

Does my child need a catch-up dose?
You can search ‘NHS child vaccines’ online or visit nhs.uk/child-vaccines to see which vaccinations are given when. If you think your child might be behind on their MMR, polio or any other vaccination you can check your child’s health record (red book) or contact your GP to see if they are up to date.

How do I get a catch-up dose for my child?
Your GP can quickly arrange for you to catch up with vaccinations. If your child had first vaccinations abroad it is important you still have routine vaccinations here, and your GP can help arrange that. If you’re not registered with a GP, you can register online (anyone can register and you don’t need ID or proof of address).

Parents of children aged 4 to 11, whose vaccination record says they are behind on polio and measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccinations will also be contacted by an organisation called Vaccination UK, who have been employed by the NHS, to arrange catch up doses at a local clinic or at school.

Our team continues to be in regular communication with SEND staff in settings to support vulnerable children. If you have questions about how SEND provision and support is being delivered when coronavirus rates are increasing, please speak with your school's SENCO or Headteacher.

If your child has an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) and you need further information after speaking to your child’s school, please contact us.

The population now has much stronger protection against Covid-19 than at any point in the pandemic.

Whilst there is still a risk of Covid-19 infection, which should be treated seriously, the population generally now has much stronger protections against the virus. This means it can be managed like other respiratory infections.

What to do if your child has Coronavirus symptoms
Attending education is hugely important for children and young people’s health and their future. Children and young people with mild symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, or slight cough, who are otherwise well, can continue to attend their setting.

If you suspect you or your child has Covid-19, please follow the guidance set out in the government guidance, People with symptoms of a respiratory infection including Covid-19 or a positive test result. For more information on symptoms, see the latest list of NHS Covid-19 symptoms in adults and symptoms in children.

Children and young people who are unwell and have a high temperature should stay at home and avoid contact with other people, where they can. They can go back to school, college or childcare, and resume normal activities when they no longer have a high temperature and they are well enough to attend.

It is not recommended that children and young people are tested for COVID-19 unless directed to by a health professional. If, however, your child (18 years of age or under) has a positive Covid-19 test result, they should stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 3 days after the day they took the test. After 3 days, if they feel well and do not have a high temperature, the risk of passing the infection on to others is much lower. This is because children and young people tend to be infectious to other people for less time than adults.

Adults who have tested positive for Covid-19 are advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days.

Covid-19 vaccinations for children and young people
Vaccination is a really important way to increase protection against Covid-19 and reduce the spread of the virus, and it is the main way to continue to ensure that children, young people, and any vulnerable family members are protected from Covid-19.

Vaccination also minimises the need for children and young people to have time off from school or college, and helps them to continue to carry out hobbies, attend social events, travel abroad during the holiday period, and live their lives to the full.

See Hackney’s website for more information about vaccination: who can get vaccinated, where to go and some frequently asked questions.

Please note that parental consent is required for children aged 5 to 15. Young people aged over 16 years old can provide consent for vaccinations themselves.

As well as Hackney Council’s vaccination webpage, listed below are some reliable sources of information on vaccination.

Information and support

Children aged 5 to 11 years who are in a clinical risk group or who live with someone who is immunosuppressed can get the COVID-19 vaccine, in line with advice set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). Eligible children include those with diabetes, immunosuppression, learning disabilities, and other conditions as outlined by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) in the Green Book.

Vaccinations help to increase protection against COVID-19, which is particularly important for those with underlying health conditions.

Further information is available in the guide for parents of children aged 5 to 11 years published by UKHSA. We have published some frequently asked questions on the vaccination programme including information on eligibility, accessibility and advice for parents of children at high risk from COVID-19. Following advice from the JCVI, healthy 5 to 11 year old children will also be offered two 10 microgram doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The NHS will prepare to extend this non-urgent offer to all children during April

Please see the government website for more information

Staff working with children in childcare settings have a ‘duty of care’ to provide a safe environment for children.

Infection prevention and control in childcare settings involves carrying out risk assessments and putting measures in place to manage any risks identified these should be reviewed and updated regularly. For more information on risk assessments, visit www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/raindex.htm.

The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 legislates that employers must provide adequate protection against the risks associated with the task undertaken (for example, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) must be provided for dealing with blood or bodily fluids). For details of this visit www.hse.gov.uk/


Infection Risk

Infection risk in the childcare setting can be reduced by;

  • Training all staff in Standard Infection Control Precautions (SICPs)
  • Supervising children when exposed to pets. Pets must be clean and healthy. Exotic (non-domestic and unusual) animals, such as reptiles should not be kept as nursery pets due to high risk of salmonella which they carry. Rodents are also not recommended (if in a childminding setting, they should be excluded from the area children are cared for). Pet living quarters must be kept clean and away from food areas.
  • Planning ahead when arranging special days out or activities
  • Ensuring Staff and/or children with symptoms of an infectious disease do not attend the childcare setting.
  • Seeking advice from your local Health Prevention Team on infection prevention and control issues e.g. exclusion criteria if an outbreak of infection is suspected.

Excluding a child from a childcare setting when not necessary can be a burden on parents or guardians. However, failing to exclude a child (with signs or symptoms of infection) could lead to an outbreak of infection in the childcare setting

What is infection prevention and control?

  • Preventing and controlling infection in an early years setting
  • The importance of hand washing before and after regular activities
  • Good practice for hand washing and a range of other ways of preventing the spread of germs in an early years setting
  • Understanding effective procedures for cleaning toys, equipment and the environment:

It is important that staff understand and follow:

  • Guidance for managing illness and infections
  • Exclusion times

How do germs spread?


  • Blood and body fluids: Blood and body fluids such as urine, faeces (bowel movements), vomit or diarrhoea can all cause infection. You should only handle them when wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) (for example, disposable gloves).
  • Chain of infection: A series of steps that describes how infection spreads.
  • Vulnerable children: Some medical conditions make children more vulnerable to infections that to infection would not usually be serious in most children. Children vulnerable to infection include those being treated for leukaemia or other cancers, on high doses of steroids by mouth, and with conditions which seriously reduce their immunity.
  • Communicable disease: A disease that can be spread from one person to another.
  • COSHH Regulations: Using chemicals or other hazardous substances at work can put people’s health at risk. By law, employers must have controls in place to prevent their staff from becoming exposed to hazardous substances, including infectious agents. (for example, germs). See www.hse.gov.uk/coshh.
  • Diarrhoea: Three or more loose or liquid bowel movements in 24 hours or more often than is normal for the individual (usually at least three times in a 24-hour period).
  • Disinfectant: A chemical that will reduce the numbers of germs to a level at which they are not harmful.
  • Exclusion period: The period of time that a person with an infectious disease must be excluded from, for example childcare settings, to limit the risk of the infection being passed on to other people.
  • Food handler: Someone who directly touches food or surfaces that will come into direct contact with food.
  • Hand hygiene: The process of cleaning your hands by washing them thoroughly with liquid soap and warm water and then drying them thoroughly or using alcohol based hand-rub solutions.
  • Outbreak: When there are two or more linked cases of the same illness or when there are more cases than the number expected. Outbreaks can happen anywhere, including in nurseries, in hospitals, on cruise ships and so on.
  • Personal Protective Equipment: Equipment a person wears to protect themselves against one or more risks (PPE) to their health or safety, including exposure to infections. In a nursery setting this would include single-use disposable gloves and disposable aprons.
  • Respiratory droplets: Small particles of fluids expelled during coughing, talking, sneezing etc. Germs for example flu, can be transferred from one person to another by droplets travelling small distances and landing on the mouth, nose or eyes of others or in their environment.
What vaccinations does your child need?