Your questions about how children are affected by covid-19

Are Covid 19 Symptoms Different in Children?

While children can get Covid 19 , they are less likely to have severe symptoms. But this information and how it affects children is still largely unknown. More information about Covid 19 and children is still being developed as new types of cases and symptoms, while rare, are appearing around the world.


Should Children wear masks?

The CDC recommends that all children over the age of 2 wear a mask in public. You should select a mask that is the appropriate size, either a small bandana or a child size mask, so that it fits properly and doesn’t cover their whole face or restrict their breathing.

Anyone, including a child, with an existing respiratory illness should speak with their doctor first.

What if someone I live with gets sick?

Most people who get Covid 19 can safely and fully recover at home. If someone in your home is sick, there things you can do to help them and to protect yourself from becoming infected. If a person is sick they should isolate from the rest of the house, but it’s also important to remember that they will need help, not only in staying isolated, but in meeting their basic needs. The symptoms of the disease can be rough, too, so remember, they’re sick, too. They’ll need your help.

  • Help them with basic needs.
    • Remind them to follow their doctors instructions
    • Help them manage their symptoms with medications and care
    • Get them the supplies they need (medicine, toiletries, laundry, food and drink, etcetera)
    • Monitor their symptoms to track to see if they’re improving or worsening
    • Keep them engaged in the household, they’ll be lonely and feel like they’re a burden.
    • Take care of their pets
    • Remind them to exercise
    • Keep the doctor’s number handy, and call if symptoms worsen
    • Seek emergency help if the person has:
      • Trouble breathing
      • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
      • New confusion
      • Inability to wake or stay awake
      • Bluish lips or face
  • Protect yourself
    • Stay at least 6 feet apart
    • Wear a mask, preferably a medical mask if you’re in close contact with the person
    • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds frequently, use hand sanitizer
    • Use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if possible
    • If you have to share a space maintain social distancing, wear a face mask, have them wear a face mask, and open a window to increase the air circulation
    • Eat in separate rooms and don’t share utensils or dishes
    • Wash the sick person’s dishes with soap in hot water, and wear gloves while washing them.
    • Wash your hands again after removing the gloves
    • Don’t share personal items with a person who is sick, including dishes, toiletries, brushes, sheets, blankets, towels, soap, shampoo
  • Keeping it Clean
    • Clean and disinfect “high-touch” surfaces and every day items, like tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks, and electronics.
    • Use soap and water first, then follow up with a disinfectant cleaner.
    • Be careful using cleaning products, many can cause further breathing problems if used in closed spaces or combined. Read the instructions.
    • If you’re sharing a room with a sick person, don’t over clean. Only clean the person’s area if it’s dirty, to limit contact and possible infection.
    • The sick person can clean if they’re feeling healthy enough, but be careful if they are having trouble breathing. Don’t have them use strong cleaners if they’re having any respirator symptoms.
    • Make sure the sick person has their own cleaning supplies including tissues, paper towels, cleaners and sponges. Don’t share.
    • If you’re sharing a bathroom the sick person should clean up after themselves after each use, including disinfecting. If this isn’t possible, wear a mask and wait as long as possible after the sick person has used the bathroom before cleaning it.
    • Make sure to use liners or bags in all garbage cans.
  • Laundry
    • Do the sick person’s laundry separately.
    • Don’t shake it out
    • Wear disposable gloves
    • Wear a face mask
    • Wipe down the machines after putting the dirty laundry in
    • Wash in hot water whenever possible
    • Remove gloves and wash hands right away
    • Dry on the hottest setting possible
    • Wash hands after putting the clothes in the dryer
    • Clean and disinfect the hampers before putting clean clothes back in
    • Wash your hands afterwards

What if I feel fine but think I was exposed?

If you think you were in close contact with someone with Covid 19 , but you don't have any symptoms, you should self-quarantine at home for at least 14 days. This means staying home as much as possible, and staying at least 6 feet, 2 meters, away from other people in your home. Self-quarantine is slightly different from self-isolation, which is when a person who is sick stays in a completely separate room from others.

You should also monitor and track any symptoms. If you do start to have symptoms, call your doctor or nurse right away.

What if I want to breastfeed?

Breastfeeding has many benefits for both you and your baby, but at this time, it’s not known if the virus can be passed to a baby through breast milk.

If you’re sick but still want to have your baby breastfed, you might want to have another healthy adult feed your baby. If that’s not possible, it's important to be extra careful when feeding or holding your baby, whether or not you breastfeed. Even though experts don’t know if the virus can be spread through breast milk, you could pass it to your baby through close contact. You can protect your baby by washing your hands often and wearing a face mask while you feed them.

You might choose to pump breast milk for your baby. Whether you’re sick or not, be sure to wash your hands carefully before pumping, and if you are sick at all or have any symptoms, wear a mask while you pump. If you have the option, it’s a good idea to have someone who isn’t sick, or hasn’t been exposed, to clean your pump thoroughly between uses.

How can I help my child cope with stress and anxiety?

It‘s normal to feel anxious or worried about Covid 19. It's also normal to feel stressed or lonely when you can't do your normal activities or see friends and relatives. And it can be hard to manage jobs and school work when your family has to stay at home. This can all be particularly difficult on children who don’t fully understand what is happening and why.

You can help your child by:

  • Talking to them simply about Covid 19 and why "social distancing" is important
  • Limiting what they see on the news or internet
  • Finding activities you can do together
  • Staying in touch with friends and relatives through phone calls, video, or chats
  • Taking care of yourself, including eating healthy foods and getting regular exercise

Your child's school might have resources to help your child learn from home. This can also be a good way to stay connected with teachers and classmates.

If your child is worried, you can remind them that most people don’t get severely ill or die from Covid 19. It might also help to remind them that by staying home, your family is helping to protect other people in your community.

What else should my family know about social distancing, especially with kids?

When you’re social distancing, you can still keep in direct contact with the people in your home, as long as everyone is healthy.

In many places, schools and day cares are closed temporarily. When experts recommend staying home and away from other people, it's important to take this seriously and follow instructions as best you can. Even if your child does not get very sick from Covid 19, they could still pass it along to others who could get very sick.

It is also important to avoid:

  • Play dates, even in small numbers
  • Group sports
  • Playgrounds

Children can still play outside, but should be careful to stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from other people.

How can I prevent my child from getting or spreading Covid 19?

While there’s currently no vaccine to prevent Covid 19, there are things you can do to reduce their chances of getting it and slow the spread of infection.

If your child is old enough, you can teach them to:

  • Practice "social distancing." This means keeping people, even those who are healthy, away from each other. It’s also sometimes called "physical distancing." This is intended to slow the spread of the virus that causes Covid 19. Keeping your child home is the best way to protect them and others.
  • Wear a Mask. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) also recommends that people, including children 2 years and older, cover their face when they need to go out in public. This is mostly so that if your child is sick, even if they don't have any symptoms, they’re less likely to spread the infection to other people.
  • Wash their hands with soap and water often. This is especially important after being out in public. Make sure to rub the hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, cleaning the wrists, fingernails, and in between the fingers. Then rinse the hands and dry them with a paper towel that can be thrown away. You can teach them how to do this properly and make it fun by singing songs, to make sure they wash long enough, and thoroughly enough.
  • Use Hand Sanitizer. While washing with soap and water is best, if your child isn’t near a sink they can use a hand sanitizing gel to clean their hands. The gels with at least 60 percent alcohol work the best. It's important to keep sanitizer out of young children's reach, since the alcohol can be harmful if swallowed. If your child is younger than 6 years old, help them when they use sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching their face with their hands, especially their mouth, nose, or eyes.

Younger children might need help or reminders to do these things.

How is Covid 19 in children treated?

There is no known specific treatment for Covid 19. Most healthy children who get infected can recover at home, and usually get better within a week or 2.

It's important to keep your child home, and away from other people, until your doctor or nurse says it's safe for them to go back to their normal activities. This decision will depend on how long it’s been since the child had symptoms, and in some cases, whether they’ve had a negative test (showing that the virus is no longer in their body).

Doctors are studying several different treatments to learn whether they might work to treat Covid 19. In certain cases, for children being treated in the hospital, doctors might recommend trying these treatments.

Will my child need tests?

If a doctor or nurse suspects your child has Covid 19, they might take a swab from inside their nose for testing. These tests can help the doctor figure out if your child has Covid 19 or another illness.

In some areas, it might not be possible to test everyone who might have been exposed to the virus. If the doctor can’t test your child, they might tell you to keep them home and away from other people, and call if symptoms get worse.

What should I do if my child has symptoms?

If your child has a fever, cough, or other symptoms of Covid 19, call their doctor or nurse. They can tell you what to do and whether your child needs to be seen in person.

If you’re taking care of your child at home, the doctor or nurse will tell you what symptoms to watch for. Some children with Covid 19 suddenly get worse after being sick for about a week. Stay in regular contact with your child’s doctor’s office to document and discuss the symptoms, and they’ll keep you up to date on any concerns, and when to call for emergency help. For example, you should call right away if your child:

  • Has trouble breathing
  • Has pain or pressure in their chest
  • Has a rash
  • Has blue lips or face
  • Acts confused or not like themselves

If you have a baby that’s having trouble feeding normally, you should also call the doctor or nurse for advice.

Are there other symptoms of Covid 19 that children may get, or can Covid 19 lead to other problems in children?

This isn’t common, but it can happen. There have been rare reports of children with Covid 19 developing inflammation throughout the body. This can lead to organ damage if it is not treated quickly. It’s been referred to as "pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome" or "multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children." The symptoms can be similar to other conditions like "toxic shock syndrome" or "Kawasaki disease." Doctors don’t yet know if the virus that causes Covid 19 also causes Kawasaki disease in some children.

If you notice a rash on your child, especially if they’ve got other symptoms, such fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, and feeling tired, you should contact your doctor right away.

Are Covid 19 symptoms different in children than adults?

In general, not really. Common symptoms include fever and cough. In more severe cases, people can develop pneumonia and have trouble breathing. Children with Covid 19 can have these symptoms too, but are less likely to get very sick.

Other symptoms both children and adults experience include: feeling very tired, shaking chills, headache, muscle aches, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, diarrhea, or vomiting. Like adults, some children don’t have any symptoms at all.

For children who do get Covid 19, babies seem to be at higher risk for more serious breathing symptoms. Serious symptoms are also more common in people, including children, who have certain health problems, like heart disease, diabetes, lung disease (such as asthma that is not well controlled or cystic fibrosis), severe obesity, or cancer.

Can children get Covid 19?

Yes. Children of any age can get Covid 19. While so far it appears children are less likely than adults to get seriously ill, there’ve been cases of serious illness in children.

Also, children can spread the virus to other people. This can be dangerous, especially for those who’re more vulnerable, such as those over 65 or who have other health problems.