Coronavirus Updates from the Division of Allergy and Immunology

Updated December 16, 2020

As we navigate this challenging, stressful time together, we want you to know that we are here for you. We would also like to provide you with updates about the many precautions we are taking to support broader public health efforts and reduce opportunities for the coronavirus (COVID-19) to spread. We are monitoring the situation closely and adapting our policies as needed to ensure the safety of our patients, families and staff. Please note this is a rapidly evolving situation. We will be updating our community regularly with key information. The current surge in cases nationwide has not impacted our ability to provide care safely.

Children with allergies and asthma do not have an increased risk for complications from COVID-19 compared to the general public or other children. In general, children have milder disease than adults. Our current asthma and allergy medication including inhaled steroids, antihistamines, intranasal steroids, leukotriene modifiers, omalizumab, and dupulimab do not increase the risk of complication from COVID-19. However, it is critical that everyone including all children 2 years or older wear masks if possible to prevent spreading or contracting COVID-19. The mask has the additional benefit of reducing exposure to pollens and other virus, also helping your child’s asthma and allergies. The other way to keep children safe is to make sure that they are up to date on their immunizations including their yearly influenza vaccine. If your child has not had the flu shot, it is not too late, please schedule.

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

There have been concerns raised about the new Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and allergic reactions after two reactions occurred in healthcare workers in the United Kingdom. People may experience allergic reactions to many different substances, including vaccines. Vaccines can cause anaphylaxis in approximately 1/1,000,000 doses. However, in the clinical trial, the rate of allergic reactions were similar in placebo and active groups, and patients with allergies were included in the clinical trial. Additional studies are needed to see if patients with history of severe anaphylaxis are at increased risk to this vaccine.  Until more information is available in agreement with the ACIP/CDC, we agree that all patients with history of anaphylaxis to other vaccines or injectable therapy should not get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Similar to any vaccine, we recommend an observation period of 15 minutes after receiving a dose of the vaccine. For patients with a history of anaphylaxis, the recommend observation period is 30 minutes.

Preventative measures

We recommend that ALL our patients (and their families) take extra care and use preventative measures such as staying inside as much as possible, practicing social distancing, and wearing a mask every time they leave the house.

Here are some important things to know at this time:

  • Please make sure your child(ren) are taking ALL their medications (inhalers too!) as prescribed. Inhalers reduce asthma symptoms when used with physician supervision and help decrease symptoms from viral illness and most likely SARS-CoV2.
  • We are here if you have questions about your child or need prescription renewals.
  • We remain committed to helping you take care of your child and offer new and follow up appointments in all of our locations. Limited telemedicine visits are available but in person visits are preferred.
  • Our food challenge program remains open. Only one healthy parent or caregiver is allowed at bedside. Siblings are not permitted.
  • If you have an appointment and you or your child is sick and/or have exposure to someone positive for COVID 19, please reschedule your appointment. If you have to reschedule or have any questions, please call 215-590-2549 to discuss.
  • Please let us know if you have concerns related to immunoglobulin replacement therapy, including the need for visiting nurse services.
  • The Day Medicine Unit will remain open throughout this time for patients receiving immunoglobulin replacement or other treatments. Please contact Day Medicine directly for scheduling questions: 215-590-1668.
  • Restricted visitation procedures are in place for all appointments and hospital visits. To keep our patients, families and staff safe from COVID-19 and other respiratory viral infections, we ask you to reduce the number of parents or caregivers as much as possible to all Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia sites. Our current COVID-19 restricted visitation policy is that no more than two healthy parents or caregivers (18 and over) are allowed to visit patients in the hospital or accompany patients to any appointment at a CHOP location (except during food challenges where only one healthy parent or caregiver is allowed).  Parents and caregivers cannot be ill (must be without fever, cough or other concerning symptoms), nor have testing pending for COVID-19. Siblings are not permitted, with the exception of breastfeeding infants. These procedures are in place during this rapidly changing situation as the prevalence of COVID-19 continues to increase in our community.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: If you or your child develops a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, contact your medical provider immediately. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your/your child’s symptoms. CHOP also provides an online questionnaire to help determine risk of COVID19, whether testing is recommended, and ability to sign up for testing online.

Urgent care and emergencies

CHOP’s four pediatric urgent care locations remain open with regular hours. Urgent care video visits are also now available as an option for families in PA and NJ.

Our Emergency Department (ED) is open. Please only visit our ED if your child is experiencing a true emergency.

Telehealth options

Screen shot of Allergy video visit CHOP has greatly expanded the use of video visits and other telehealth options as an alternative to some in-person visits when it is clinically safe and appropriate to do so. Find instructions for getting set up for video visits with a CHOP provider.

  • Current patients: We are looking at every patient appointment and evaluating the best way to connect with you about your child’s care. Your provider’s office will contact you to discuss options for any upcoming appointments. In the meantime, we encourage you to sign in to your MyCHOP account to ensure you can successfully access your account. If you have questions, or need to sign up for MyCHOP, please call your provider’s office.
  • New patients: Some specialties are using telehealth for new patient referrals and second opinions. Please check with your health plan to confirm that your insurance covers video visits with CHOP providers. Contact the specialty directly to discuss options.

We know this is a challenging time and we thank you for your understanding and partnership in keeping our patients, families and staff safe.

Additional safety information during the COVID-19 pandemic

IMPORTANT REMINDER: If you or your child develops a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, contact your medical provider immediately. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your/your child’s symptoms. They will coordinate safe testing and treatment and get you the care you need.

Read more about reduced entry for parents, caregivers and siblings, cleaning protocols, protective masks, and the many other safety measures in place:

Helpful resources

Check out these additional resources to help you keep your family informed and healthy.

We know this is a challenging time and we thank you for your understanding and partnership in keeping our patients, families and staff safe.

Questions?

If you are concerned about your child’s condition, please do not hesitate to reach out directly to your child’s physician. For questions about your office visit, including scheduling or rescheduling, please contact our scheduling center at 215-590-2549.