Children in classroom wearing protective masks

There’s a lot of information out there about COVID-19 and the risks it poses to your family. Scientists and public health officials are actively studying SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) and learning more every day. New information, however, can often raise new questions, and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. We’ve triaged recent updates on COVID-19 and kids to help you keep your family safe.

Are children less susceptible to COVID-19?

We still do not know the true number of children at any given time who are infected with COVID-19, in part because children are more likely than adults to have asymptomatic infections. Current evidence confirms that children are much less likely to develop severe COVID-19 infection than adults. However, children of all ages can easily spread the virus to other people. For this reason, it is critical that your family continue to follow these safety measures:

  • Wear a mask when outside of your home.
  • Maintain physical distancing (6 feet away) from people outside of your immediate household members, and avoid crowds.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer.
  • Get all eligible family members vaccinated against COVID-19 

New variants: Are they really more contagious?

You have likely heard about multiple new variants of the COVID virus — also called “strains” or “mutations” — that have been discovered around the globe. While all viruses mutate (meaning, change their genetic material), these variants do appear to bind more tightly to the receptor that sits on the surface of cells. This may explain why they may be more contagious than other strains.

Thankfully, these variants do not seem to cause more severe illness than our original COVID-19 strains.

More good news: According to the CDC, preliminary research shows the currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines will provide protection against these new strains of virus. Most importantly, the same protective measures we use to prevent the spread of the original strains of COVID-19 will also protect against these variant viruses. 

That means the best way to protect yourself and your family against all strains of COVID-19 is to follow the safety measures above. Get more tips on how to keep your family safe.

My child had COVID-19; are they going to develop MIS-C?

Most children with COVID-19 experience mild symptoms and need no advanced medical care. In a very small number of children, however, the virus seems to set off an excessive immune response, resulting in inflammation of the eyes, skin and some internal organs. 

This condition is called multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), and it can be very serious, affecting a child’s blood pressure and heart function. Hospitals across the country have seen a rise in MIS-C cases. If your child develops any MIS-C symptoms, especially a high fever that lasts several days, call your pediatrician or take your child to the Emergency Department. MIS-C requires hospitalization, and most children recover quickly with treatment.

Read more about MIS-C.

When can my child be vaccinated against COVID-19?

Children and teens ages 12 and older are currently eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Learn about CHOP’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts and find a vaccination site near you. 

Unfortunately, the currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines are not yet approved for use in children younger than 12. That’s because physicians and scientists can’t assume that young children will respond the same way to the vaccine as teens and adults. Hear more from Dr. Paul Offit, Director of the Vaccine Education Center.

The good news, however, is that data from vaccine trials in school-age children is under review by the FDA, and we hope to have at least one COVID-19 vaccine approved and recommended for use in school-age children sometime this fall.  

For more detailed information about the COVID-19 vaccine, including recommendations for pregnant or nursing moms, visit CHOP’s Vaccine Education Center.

Reviewed by Susan E. Coffin, MD, MPH, Division of Infectious Diseases

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