Children & Teens Can Get COVID-19
While fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 compared to adults, children can be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, can get sick from COVID-19, and can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others. Like adults, children who have COVID-19 but have no symptoms ("asymptomatic") can still spread the virus to others.
Most children with COVID-19 have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. However, some children can get severely ill from COVID-19. They might require hospitalization, intensive care or a ventilator to help them breathe. In rare cases, they might die.
To keep updated on current COVID-19 trends in children, visit the *new Ohio Department of Health – COVID 19 Dashboards for Children and Schools.
COVID-19 Vaccines and Kids
Find out about authorized COVID-19 vaccines, possible side effects, the benefits of having your children vaccinated and how your child can get vaccinated at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s.Learn More
COVID-19 in Children & Young Adults
- What is the Omicron variant? Does it make children sicker?
Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur. Currently, the Omicron variant is the dominant variant in the United States. The Omicron variant spreads more easily than earlier variants that cause COVID-19, including the Delta variant. Children and adults infected with Omicron can present with symptoms similar to previous variants. Preliminary data suggest that Omicron generally causes more mild disease that previous variants, although some infected people may still experience severe disease, require hospitalization and could die from infection with this variant.
- How can I protect my children who can’t yet be vaccinated?
The best way to protect children under the age of 6 months who are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine is for everyone around them who is over the age of 6 months to be vaccinated. When children are outside of their household or around unvaccinated people they should wear a mask (over the age of 2).
- What symptoms do children and young adults with COVID-19 infection have?
Physicians are continuously evaluating the most common COVID-19 symptoms in children. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) keeps a list of the most up-to-date symptoms and can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html. As of the date of these FAQs, per the CDC, the following are considered COVID-19 symptoms in children:
- Fever of at least 100 degrees F
- New onset or worsening congestion or runny nose not associated with allergy symptoms
- New onset Cough
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sore throat
- How does COVID-19 impact children & young adults?
There are many things we are still learning about COVID-19, especially about its impact on children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that based on current evidence, children are not at higher risk from COVID-19 than adults. According to a recent study in Pediatrics, data suggests that young children under 10 years of age are not as contagious as adults. However, they still can infect others with COVID-19. As children progress through the teen years, it appears they may become more likely to infect others. The healthcare community and researchers are still gathering information to better understand this.
- What is the current CDC guideline for when a child no longer requires home isolation?
Patients with COVID-19 may be contagious prior to developing symptoms and current CDC guidelines advise home isolation for at least 5 days after symptoms begin. End isolation after 5 days if you are fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication) and your symptoms are improving. Take precautions until day 10. Wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days any time you are around others inside your home or in public. Visit the CDC website for the latest guidelines.
- What is MIS-C disease and how does it relate to children and COVID-19?
COVID-19 disease in children has been associated with a rare disease call Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). Children with this illness have fever and other signs of inflammation in their body that is found in blood tests. Symptoms of MIS-C illness include:
- Fever lasting more than 3 days
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting
- Neck pain
- Rash or changes in skin color
- Bloodshot eyes
- Seems extra tired
- Trouble breathing
- Pain or pressure in the chest that doesn't go away
- Becoming confused
- Unable to wake up or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
- My child is going to school in person. What can I do to reduce the risk of them getting COVID-19?
There are general principles recommended for schools in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
- Children should wear masks.
- Children should not go to school when they have COVID-19 symptoms or are not feeling well.
- Hand washing several times during the day, especially when changing locations in the school and before and after eating is extremely important.
- Physically distancing as much as possible within the school is recommended.
Remember, even when the child is not in school, it’s important for children to continue all of these practices when leaving the home.
- How can I find local resources for COVID-19 such as vaccines, testing and masks?
A new government website can help you find locations near you that offer COVID-19 testing, medications, vaccines, masks and more. The site can help you find test-to-treat locations, where you or your child can receive antiviral medication on the spot if you test positive for COVID-19. There are currently more than 2,000 of these one-stop-shop locations in the U.S., including many in Northeast Ohio. The website, COVID.gov, can also help you find where you can receive COVID-19 vaccines and high-quality masks. You can also order at-home test kits through the website.
Parenting During COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic presents special challenges for parents. Browse our special collection of posts from the Healthy@UH blog with expert advice for parents and other child caregivers to help children thrive during this extraordinary time.
UH Health Talks
University Hospitals brings our health experts to you through our continuing series of virtual health talks. These virtual seminars, which touch on COVID-19 and children, include a presentation by physicians who are experts in their field, followed by a Q&A session.
The ABCDs of COVID-19
A mask covers the mouth and nose, where the droplets that spread COVID-19 are made. Children can have COVID-19 and spread the illness even when they don’t feel sick. If your child sees you wear a mask, they will pick up on that and wear one, too. When you talk to your children about wearing a mask, let them know that wearing a mask is a way to take care of others, because if we all wear a mask, we can slow the spread in the community.
Before your child leaves the house, check for fever and any COVID-19 symptoms. Keep your child home if they are having a fever or COVID-19 symptoms. Talk with your child so they know that you want them to let teachers know if they are not feeling well at school. Have a plan for what to do if you need to pick a child up during the day.
Teach good handwashing at home by washing hands together or talking about it with older children. Soap and water for twenty seconds or two choruses of “Happy Birthday,” or a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol are recommended. Talk with your child about being safe and not sharing items with other children right now.
This can be a stressful time for children. You may have family or friends with COVID-19. You may have family or friends who have lost their jobs recently. Be honest and share information in a way they can understand. Tell your child that it’s okay to be sad, mad, or worried. It can be hard for grown-ups to hear about stress that children are feeling because we don’t have all the answers. But listening to your child and answering their questions can help.