Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pediatric FAQs

Dr. Peter Jung

Updated 3/13/2020

Kids may be developing less severe symptoms, but does that have any potential impact on the possibility of reinfection? 

No one knows for sure, but most children likely develop at least short-term immunity to the specific Coronavirus that causes COVID-19. But just as the flu can mutate, so could COVID-19, which would then make an individual susceptible to reacquiring the infection.

Why do children seem less affected by COVID-19?

No one is certain why this is happening, but the likely reason is that every winter season there are several non-COVID-19 Coronaviruses circulating that children are highly prone to catching. Their frequent exposure to these other Coronaviruses likely offers them some level of immunity that adults may not have. There are likely other contributing factors but this is probably the biggest one.

Are there steps you can take to keep your kids safe from COVID-19?

As there have been no deaths in children under 10, there is likely little risk to children at this time from COVID-19. The more important factor is that they are likely vectors of transmission. Thus, it is important to consider their contact with grandparents and people in their lives with chronic medical conditions; for the sake of those around them, social distancing and careful personal hygiene is crucial to controlling the spread of the illness and reducing the likelihood of our medical system becoming overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases.

If your child does become sick, what are some of the symptoms to look out for?

Per the CDC, the symptoms to be aware of are fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Should your pediatrician also test for the flu?

Testing for the flu may be wise as it is unlikely that you have both COVID-19 and influenza at the same time. If the flu test is positive, then it effectively rules out COVID-19 – but not absolutely.

With schools shutting down, are playdates safe?

The key to slowing this pandemic down, as seen in Singapore and South Korea, is social distancing. The better we all practice this, the sooner we can gain a foothold on this pandemic. The general rule of thumb should be to limit all social interaction as much as possible. Realistically, we are social creatures so people are going to meet, and should this happen the smaller the group the better.

Any situations parents should avoid amid the outbreak (kids’ museums, playgrounds, etc.)?

Any public place where a large number of people gather and touch things is a sure breeding ground for COVID-19. Ideally, these type of venues should be avoided until further notice from public health officials.

What should parents be wiping down with disinfectant wipes during the Coronavirus 2019 outbreak?

Thus far, it appears children are not at serious risk from COVID-19, but they are likely vectors of the virus. As such, any contact between children and the elderly/chronically ill should be carefully managed. Minimizing social contact and play dates will help reduce the risk of germ transmission – this is probably the most important thing.

If children are out, have them wash their hands frequently and use hand sanitizer on a regular basis when hand washing is not practical/feasible.

If children share a home with the elderly or chronically ill, wipe down the home regularly. Anything that is frequently touched should be cleaned (for example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks) with household cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants that are appropriate for the surface, following label instructions. For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.

Should parents request prescriptions for their kids in advance right now, and if so, what’s a good supply?

Any quarantine will last a minimum of 14 days should it be required. As such, should a family need to self-quarantine, a minimum amount of prescription medication to have on hand would be a 2-week supply; however, a 1 to 2-month supply would be more prudent and practical.