COVID-19 and pediatrics: Your questions answered

The coronavirus pandemic has left us all with a lot of questions. Here, the Ovia Health clinical team answers your questions about COVID-19 and pediatrics.

Should I take my child to well-visit appointments or get vaccines? 

Call ahead to find out how your child’s pediatric practice is handling each type of appointment. Many appointments can be handled virtually by phone or video, with most in-person appointments being prioritized for those needing time-sensitive vaccinations. Some practices are holding well-visits in a different office or at different times than sick visits, so calling ahead is especially important[1].

Health providers are being very cautious to limit healthy children’s risk of exposure to COVID-19, and will only recommend an in-person visit when it is essential, such as for important vaccinations. Keeping up with your child’s vaccination schedule to prevent other diseases is one of the most important things you can do to protect their health, even during the pandemic.

Because it can be hard to keep infants and toddlers from touching surfaces in public places, if you do need to bring them to an appointment, you might consider wearing them in a front-pack or keeping them in their car seat or stroller at the provider’s office. And use hand sanitizer when you don’t have access to a sink for proper handwashing. 

How can I prevent my child from getting COVID-19?

The CDC website has trustworthy, up-to-date information about how you can help decrease your child’s exposure to COVID-19, as well as decrease the chance that they will pass the virus on to other people if they do have it. This website also includes guidance on when and how children should wear masks in public. The American Academy of Pediatrics has also put together COVID-19 information for parents, available here

If my child has symptoms that might be COVID-19, what should I do?

First, don’t panic. Although infants and children can get the virus, they typically have more mild cases than older people do[2]. 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, follow the CDC’s guidance for reducing exposure for the rest of the family. 

I’ve been hearing about a severe condition that affects a small number of children with COVID-19 called ‘pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome.’ What do I need to know?

In early May, 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 Kawasaki disease[3]. 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[4]

Children are less likely than adults to become sick with COVID-19, few children with COVID-19 develop this syndrome, and almost all of those who do develop the syndrome recover well. However, the disease can be severe and should be treated quickly to avoid long-term damage to organs. Treatment tends to focus on reducing the inflammation.

This disease appears to be related to COVID-19, and researchers are tracking it closely. Although there has been a lot of news coverage on it, this disease appears to be very, very rare.

If my child has a medical emergency, should I do anything differently because of COVID-19?

In a life-threatening emergency, you should always seek immediate care. That can include calling 911 or going to your local emergency room or urgent care center. If it is safe to delay treatment, 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 phone or video visits depending on the circumstances.

Learn more about the coronavirus

Updated December 4, 2020

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