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Published on June 20, 2022

mother checking daughters temp

COVID & Kids: What to Know About Treatment and Vaccination

A lot of parents have asked the question – when can I get my child vaccinated for COVID-19? The answer is “now,” as vaccines are approved for all kids age 6 months and older.

Most recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has endorsed the Food and Drug Administration’s recommendation to give COVID-19 vaccine to children 6 months to 5 years of age. Previously, vaccines were approved for ages 5 on up, and now all Americans age 6 months and older are eligible for the vaccine.

Dosages are different for different ages and different manufacturers, and you can talk to your pediatrician or family doctor for more information. “Unvaccinated individuals of all ages have 10 times the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19,” said David Basel, MD, Avera Medical Group Vice President of Clinical Quality. Those rates even affect people who had a prior coronavirus infection.

COVID-19 was the No. 4 cause of death among infants in the last year, and more kids went to the hospital because of COVID-19 than flu,” said Basel.

Medical Treatments for COVID-19

Avera has a multidisciplinary team including pediatricians, pharmacists and specialists who have developed clinical guidelines for kids with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

Like many health systems, Avera has incorporated the use of monoclonal antibodies to treat eligible patients. Avera has also:

  • Developed Avera@Home care transition programs for patients of all ages, including kids.
  • Established clinical guidelines for all health care providers.
  • Coordinated bed availability and transfer protocols for very sick patients.
  • Offered guidelines for caregivers to care for children with COVID-19 at home.

In addition to the threat of COVID-19, Avera physicians are watchful for multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) which can occur after a COVID infection.

“With the rapid, daily changes of the pandemic, flexibility and collaboration are critical tools we put to use constantly,” said David Basel, MD, Avera Medical Group Vice President of Clinical Quality.

Prevention Is the First Line of Defense

Vaccines are safe; adverse reactions are very rare. Experts rigorously tested both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in a large sampling of children.

“Now that case numbers are lower, it’s a good time to get vaccinated,” said Kara Bruning, MD, Avera Medical Group pediatrician and Clinical Vice President of Avera’s Pediatric Service Line. Parents can include COVID-19 vaccination in the routine of traditional, important childhood immunizations.

Boosters are recommended to add to your protection. According to the CDC, everyone ages 5 years and older should get one booster after completing their COVID-19 vaccine primary series – and it’s never too late to get your booster. A second booster is recommended for people age 50 and over and people who are immunocompromised.

Caring for Kids with COVID

Most children can recover at home without additional medical attention, and parents can use these guidelines to manage fever, cough, shortness of breath and sore throat.

Use children’s fever- and pain-reducing medication according to the manufacturer’s directions. This includes acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). Bruning said they recommend avoiding aspirin.

To manage symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath, try the following:

  • A chest rub, such as Vicks VapoRub® for kids older than 2. For children 2 and under, avoid using rubs containing camphor. Instead, try Vicks BabyRub®.
  • Give the child a warm bath or encourage older children to take a warm shower.
  • Prop older kids up with pillows. Children younger than 2 should continue to lie on their back in their crib with no extra pillows or blankets.
  • Use a cool air humidifier.

For all ages, warm fluids or something cold like ice cream or ice-pop snacks can soothe sore throats.

When to Call or Take Action

If your child’s condition does not improve after three or four days, or if symptoms get worse, call your clinic. You can also message your provider through AveraChart.

“If children in diapers don’t have a wet diaper every six hours, parents should call their provider,” Bruning said. “It’s OK if it’s not soaked, but it should be wet.”

If outside of clinic hours, call the Avera Medical Call Center at 877-282-8372. Registered nurses answer it 24/7, and they can access on-call doctors. If your child has difficulty breathing, chest pain or pressure or cold, clammy skin, call 911 right away. For babies, signs of breathing difficulty might include grunting, bluish skin or an inability to breastfeed.

Avera has a multidisciplinary team including pediatricians, pharmacists and specialists who have developed clinical guidelines for kids with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

In addition to the threat of COVID-19, Avera physicians are watchful for multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) which can occur after a COVID infection.

Learn more about how you can get your child vaccinated.

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Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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