Pandemic life has been challenging for everyone—especially those of us with young ones at home. Between school shutdowns, remote learning, canceled play dates, and general worries about our children’s mental, emotional, and social well-being, let’s just say that parents have a lot on their minds.
Now with the arrival of the highly contagious Omicron variant, a new wave of concerns about how to keep our kids safe—and whether to get them vaccinated—has many parents feeling even more overwhelmed.
Read on for some common questions and thoughtful answers on how you and your youngsters can navigate these difficult times as safely as possible.
Can my child get COVID-19?
Yes, children can get COVID-19. In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, almost 9.5 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began. And with the arrival of the Omicron variant, children are being hospitalized in record numbers.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19 in children?
The symptoms for COVID-19 in children look essentially the same as they do in adults. The CDC lists the following on their website:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
If your child displays any of these symptoms, don’t make assumptions—just call your pediatrician immediately. You can also test your child for COVID-19 using a rapid or PCR test.
Thankfully, most children who contract omicron experience mild symptoms that last a few days to a week. Should your child test positive for COVID-19, the CDC recommends that you ask your pediatrician about treating fever, aches, and pain with over-the-counter medicines.
And, as with other viral infections, you’ll definitely want to make sure your child gets plenty of rest and drinks lots of fluids
Can children be vaccinated for COVID-19?
Yes. As of November 2nd 2021, the CDC recommends children ages 5 and up get vaccinated. Clinical trials are still underway for the under-5 crowd, and experts hope that a vaccine will be available later this year.
If you’re like many parents, you may have safety concerns about getting your child vaccinated. While that’s understandable, you should know that the vaccine has undergone extensive testing and development through both the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration. In fact, the vaccine has undergone most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history, with safety testing in thousands of children ages 5-11.
In rare cases, the vaccine has caused myocarditis—essentially an inflammation of the heart. But according to the CDC, in the clinical trials of more than 3,000 children ages 5 to 11, the shots produced no reports of myocarditis.
The CDC, the FDA, and the American Academy of Pediatrics are all in agreement that the risks of contracting the COVID-19 virus are far more dangerous than developing myocarditis from the shot. The bottom line is that while serious health events after COVID-19 vaccination are rare, an actual case of COVID-19 can permanently damage the heart, among other long-lasting complications.
Where can children in Florida get vaccinated?
You can get your child vaccinated throughout the state at doctors’ offices, clinics, and a whole host of retailers including:
Please note, your child will need to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian to schedule an appointment.
You can visit vaccines.gov to find vaccination sites in your ZIP code.
What type of COVID-19 vaccine will my child receive?
As of this writing, the Pfizer vaccine is approved for children ages 5 and up. Pfizer is continuing to conduct trials, and Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are working on developing their own vaccines for children.
Also, your child may get a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other vaccines, such as the flu vaccine. Your young one may not be thrilled, but it’s good to know you can get multiple health concerns addressed in a single doctor visit.
How can I prepare my child for a COVID-19 vaccination?
No kid likes going to the doctor to get a shot. But the good news is, the experience of getting a COVID-19 vaccine is similar to other typical vaccinations. Talk to your young ones about what to expect, tell the doctor about any allergies in advance, and be prepared to spend about 15 or so minutes at your doctor’s office after the shot to make sure everything is a-ok before you leave.
Your child may experience some mild side effects from the vaccine. Pain, redness, and swelling in the arm where they got the shot are common. They also might experience tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, or fever.
The CDC provides tips to support your child before, during, and after vaccinations. In our experience, a stop for ice cream on the way home is never a bad idea.
Keeping children safe during the COVID-19 pandemic
Kids are just as likely as adults to get COVID-19. Though it’s extremely rare, it is possible for them to get extremely sick, and there can be long-term health complications if they do contract the virus. Not only that, but kids can also spread the virus to friends, family, teachers, and others.
With all this in mind, it’s important to get your children vaccinated as soon as possible. They may need to skip a soccer game or play date for the next day or so, but they’ll be back in action in no time. Despite ongoing uncertainty, accurate information can help you make informed decisions—and give you peace of mind.
If you still have questions or concerns, talk to your child’s doctor if you still have questions about the vaccine for your child.
Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to substitute professional medical advice. Always talk with your doctor before starting or stopping medications or treatments.