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What You and Your Child with IBD Should Know about COVID-19

We have been receiving many questions about how COVID-19 (the Novel coronavirus) might impact our patients with IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), and have collected the following recommendations and points to consider.

*** If you are sick and need immediate attention call 911 or call Health Link at 811 ***

Returning to School 
Return to School

According to Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, if your child with IBD is in remission and otherwise healthy, your child should follow the local public health guidance regarding returning to school. This includes children on immunosuppressives or biologics. In general, children/adolescents who are in remission and feeling well may return to school.

There is uncertainty as to the risk of high-dose steroids (more than 0.5 mg/kg/day of prednisone equivalent dose, or more than 20 mg per day), severe active inflammation, and malnutrition in children/adolescents with IBD. Consequently, we recommend a more cautious approach until more data become available to help guide decisions.

Please read the full article on Crohn and Colitis website for more guidance.

We value the importance of learning and maintaining some normalcy (while not exposing ourselves and our children to additional risk). We advise our patients to follow provincial guidelines if returning to school.


You can find the official guide for parents here


  • Check for symptoms of COVID-19 every morning before school

  • Stay home when sick or if you have been in contact with someone who is sick 

  • Social distance whenever possible and practice good hygiene

  • If you or your family members require COVID-19 testing, you can find more information here


These recommendations are general guidance that we provide to our patients. When making a decision regarding returning to school this year, also consider your individual/family situation and any other factors that may affect the decision. 

Families with children receiving steroids or multiple IBD medications (beyond Infliximab/Remicade or Adalimumab/Humira, which are often given with Methotrexate or Azathioprine/Imuran) should discuss the risks and benefits of returning to school with their IBD physician.

If you have questions about your specific situation, please discuss them with your physician.

COVID-19 and IBD

COVID-19 in Children with IBD. There have been 625 reported cases between ages 0-19 years up to March 18th, 2021 from international pediatric IBD centers. There have been no reported deaths. 


COVID-19 in Adults with IBD. There have been a total of 4971 COVID-19 cases reported  amongst adults from 13 different countries.  There have been a reported 91 deaths amongst adults with IBD infected with COVID-19.

Given the number of people living with IBD, these numbers remain reassuring. However, we still strongly recommend our patients and families to observe strict hand washing, social distancing and self isolation where needed according to the Alberta Health Services guidelines.

Our Recommendations
What We Recommend

For the most up-to-date details from AHS, please visit

Please use the AHS Self-Assessment Tool to see whether you need to be tested for COVID-19

Don't stop your IBD medications without consulting your doctor. Your IBD is likely more of a concern than getting sick from COVID-19.


COVID-19 does not travel through the air over long distances or times; however, it can spread person-to-person by larger droplets, like from a cough or sneeze, or by touching contaminated objects or surfaces, then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. 

It’s important to remember that while the risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19 is higher than with influenza, you can still protect yourself, your family, and those who are vulnerable in our communities by using the same practices recommended for protecting against all respiratory illnesses.


The best thing to do are the same instructions for the general population – common sense and good hygiene are the best measures:

  • Wash your hands often and well

  • Avoid touching your face, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands

  • Use elbow bumps or waves instead of handshakes to greet

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick

  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched

  • Stay at home and away from others if you are feeling ill (especially postponing visits to friends or family in hospitals or long term care facilities)

  • When sick, cover your cough and sneezes and then wash your hands

  • Call Health Link, at 811 if you are concerned about your symptoms or believe you may be at risk.

COVID-19 Vaccination and IBD
COVID-19 Vaccination and IBD

The third dose of the COVID-19 vaccination is approved for all individuals 12 years and older. All immunocompromised individuals aged 12 years and older are eligible for the fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. We endorse the strong opinions of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, The Canadian Association of Gastroenterology, and The International Organization for the Study of IBD (IOIBD) and believe that it is safe and important to receive the vaccination, even while on these treatments. Experience from around the world has shown that there is no more than expected adverse effects from receiving any of the approved COVID-19 vaccinations while on treatment. We believe it is also safe to receive all the COVID-19 vaccines that are approved by Health Canada (Pfizer, Moderna). Your IBD team does not have a preference for one vaccine over the other – take the first one you are offered. First and second doses of Pfizer vaccines are available for children between 5-11 years of age, and first doses of Moderna vaccines are available for children between 6-11 years of age. Please call Health Link at 811 to book your shot or local pharmacy.

The only time we would ask that you postpone your vaccination, is if you are currently on high dose corticosteroid such as prednisone for a disease flare up.  Data are not clear on this buy you may not get as much protection from the vaccination while on high dose corticosteroid. Please call the IBD nurses at (780) 407-7387 to discuss further.

Booster shots are now available to patients on immunosuppressive therapies (ie. TNF and other biologic agents).

We are not able to provide medical exemption letters to individuals stating that they cannot receive the vaccination due to their diagnosis of IBD. 

If you have recently returned to Canada (within 14 days) and have fever or respiratory symptoms, or if you believe you may be at risk for COVID-19 for any reason and you are ill, please contact Health Link at 811 for advice.


For more information specific recommendations on IBD patients, you can visit the Crohn’s and Colitis foundation website (including a section for children with IBD):



We know these are stressful times and hope this information will help you manage this stress. We are here to care for you at all times! If you have any specific concerns or questions please contact us using the phone numbers you have.

Your EPIC team

Last Updated: August 6, 2020

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