Nothing is worse than having a sick child. But one thing that will make you feel a little better is knowing that healthcare for children in Sweden is good quality and low cost.
Sweden is seen as one the best place for children’s health care due to its having an extremely low child (0-5) mortality rate. A focus on preventative health care, quality medical services and staff, immunizations, and easy access to medical services contribute to this success.
All children in Sweden have access to free healthcare through federal taxation. They are entitled to regular developmental checks, immunizations, illness care, hospitalization, and dental work. Depending on the municipality, “child” can mean from conception to 25. You’ll have to contact your municipality to know the exact age range but most cover children until they reach 20 years old. And the best part: most services are completely free for children. Prescription medication is the exception. You will need to pay for your child’s medications but it is at a subsidized price.
When your child is under five, you can take them to the Barnavårdscentralen (Children’s Health Center and BVC for short) for development checks. Children only go to the BVC when they are not sick. You will be assigned a nurse at the BVC who will track your child’s weight and height measurements. Children are also assessed here for developmental milestones (such as sitting, first words, stacking blocks, etc.). This is also where your child will get immunizations. You can find information about where your local BVC is located and make an appointment through Vårdguiden. Once your child is over five years old and is in school, preventative health checks and immunizations are provided through a nurse at the school.
Sweden’s Immunization Schedule:
|3 Months||DTaP, IPV, Hib, PCV|
|5 Months||DTaP, IPV, Hib, PCV|
|12 Months||DTaP, IPV, Hib, PCV|
|5-6 Years||DTaP, IPV|
DTap = Diphteria, Tetanus, Pertussis
IPV = Polio
Hib = Haemophilius influenzae type B)
PCV = Pneumococcal disease
MMR = Measles, Mumps, & Rubella
HPV = Human Papilloma Virus
What to do when your child is sick
When your child is sick, you have many options for help. You can call Vårdguiden (Sweden’s Health Guide) at 08 320 100 or visit their website. It is recommended to call Vårdguiden when your child is sick to speak with a pediatric nurse who can give you instructions for care at home or recommend you see a doctor if needed. When you call, you are given three options in Swedish; push #2 on your phone to speak with a pediatric nurse. It is common that you will have to wait on the line for some time for an available nurse. You can speak English to the nurses and they will be able to help you. The service is free and open every day, at all times.
Another option is to call 1177 or go to the website at www.1177.se. This is a national service for medical advice. You can speak with a nurse at this number for advice for caring for your sick child. There is no fee for this service and it is available 24 hours a day, every day.
If you need to take your child to a doctor, follow the advice of the nurse when you call Vårdguiden. You will likely be directed to make an appointment at your regular doctor, pediatric office, or you may be told to go to your nearest emergency room. Before you or child ever gets sick, it is a good idea to stop by your nearest doctors’ office (husläkare ) and register your family. This usually just involves filling out a brief form and selecting a doctor. This will save you time later when you need to make an appointment for a sick child. Again, you can find information about nearby doctors and medical services through Vårdguiden. You can call Vårdguiden at the same number, 08 320 100 and select option #3 to speak with someone about finding medical services in your area. When you go to the doctor’s office, be sure to know your child’s personnummer. The doctor’s visit will be free of charge.
If your child is experiencing an emergency, call 112. This is the general emergency number in Sweden. All operators will be able to speak English with you.
Dental services are also free for children. You can take your child for regular check-ups or for emergency visits. You can visit this website, www.folktandvardenstockholm.se, to learn more about dental services available through Folktandvården (the national dental association). You can register your child and make appointments through the website. In Stockholm, children’s dental care is free until 19 years old.
Article: Jessica Larson
Photo Credit: hubertk