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Children with serious illnesses can be at high risk for infection.
Certain illnesses and treatments such as chemotherapy can weaken your child’s immune system. A person with a weak immune system is known as immunocompromised. They are at a higher risk for infections.
If your child has a weak immune system, it is important to take steps to prevent a worsening illness. Talk to your child’s doctor about your child’s risk for infection.
Ensure that your child and their environment are clean to help prevent infections. The best way to prevent infection is to clean your hands often. Clean your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Self-care is important to prevent infection. This includes:
Limit travel, avoid crowds, wear face masks in public places, and limit contact with people outside of your household.
Even dust and dirt can have harmful germs for children who have weak immune systems. Basic cleaning of floors and surface areas can help reduce risk of infection.
Give special attention to any places where your child goes for medical care. Toys and other objects that children use can carry germs. Wipe down toys and electronics regularly.
Wash soft toys, blankets, and linens in hot water. Change bed sheets and linens often.
Infectious disease expert Hana Hakim, MD, MS, explains the importance of getting the flu vaccine for children with serious illness and their families.
Things you might not usually think of can be a source of infection for children with weak immune systems. Talk to your medical team about these possible risks:
Wash hands before preparing and eating foods. Keep food preparation areas clean. Store and cook food properly. Wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
Talk to your doctor about foods to avoid and follow dietary instructions.
Warning signs of severe illness are:
Know what to do if symptoms develop. Call ahead before going to the doctor except in an emergency. Make sure you have extra medicines and medical supplies.
Do not delay medical visits unless your doctor says to do so.
If you have questions about your child’s health or about vaccines, talk with your child’s care team. They are the best source of guidance to help you manage your child’s health.
Reviewed: November 2023