Understanding COVID-19 and how it impacts children is a must for parents. Here, the Ovia Health clinical team answers your questions about COVID-19 and children of all ages.
Does my child need to wear a mask?
Mask requirements will continue to vary, but most children over the age of 2 can still safely mask in high-risk settings to reduce their risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19.
How can I prevent my child from getting COVID-19?
All children over the age of 6 months are eligible and recommended to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccinating all members of your family is the best way to prevent your child from getting sick.
The CDC website has trustworthy, up-to-date information about how you can help decrease your child’s exposure to COVID-19 and decrease the chance that they will pass the virus on to other people if they do have it. The CDC website also includes guidance on when and how children should wear masks. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has also put together COVID-19 information for parents, available here. It’s always a great idea to review with your children the ways we protect ourselves from infection, including social distancing, proper hand washing, and mask-wearing.
Should my child receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
The vaccines manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are authorized for people ages 6 months and older. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children ages 6 months or older get the COVID-19 vaccine. If your child is 6 months or older, it’s a good idea to speak with their healthcare provider and decide together if getting the vaccine is the best next step. For more information about the vaccines head here.
Your child’s pediatrician or other healthcare professional is a great resource for more information about the COVID-19 vaccine.
If my child has symptoms that might be COVID-19, what should I do?
First, try an at-home test. If you’re not sure of the results, generally, you should re-test your child 24-48 hours later. Although infants and children can get the virus, they typically have more mild cases than older people do. Call your child’s provider to find out what they would like you to do. They will have a process in place for getting your child the evaluation and care they need, which might include a phone or video appointment, depending on the circumstances. In the meantime, do not send your child to school or daycare where they will be around other children. Keeping sick family members isolated in their own bedrooms and using a separate bathroom can help decrease transmission within families. Many families will also mask at home when this is not possible.
The FDA has approved remdesivir as a treatment for children older than 28 days and heavier than 7 pounds who are at risk for severe disease or who are hospitalized. Paxlovid is approved for at-home use in children over 12 at risk for serious disease.
What is Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). What do I need to know?
In early May 2020, doctors in the United Kingdom and the U.S. started reporting a few cases of children who were experiencing inflammation in multiple organs that appeared similar to a rare condition called Kawasaki disease. Kawasaki disease causes swelling and inflammation in the blood vessels of the skin, eyes, and heart, causing symptoms like persistent fever, body rash, swelling in the lymph nodes (neck), swelling of the hands and feet, red eyes, and peeling skin.
Again, generally speaking, children are less likely than adults to become sick with COVID-19. Very few children with COVID-19 develop this syndrome and almost all of those who do recover well. However, MIS-C can be severe and should be treated quickly to avoid long-term damage to organs. Treatment tends to focus on reducing the inflammation.
My child seems really exhausted or has no appetite after having Covid-19. What should I expect?
Recovering from COVID-19 can be challenging and slow-going for adults and kiddos. This is called Post-Covid Conditions (PCCs), and there is emerging support and treatment when necessary. Very young children or babies may have difficulty expressing how they feel – things like explaining that they can’t taste anything or have no appetite can be impossible. It’s important to remember that it can be normal for there to be several weeks or more of “recovery” when your child is tired, has less appetite or has other lingering symptoms. Being in touch with their provider can offer reassurance and check-ins if they need more investigation (everything from a baby who isn’t gaining weight to a teenage athlete who is still short of breath).
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team
Updated December 2023