The COVID-19 pandemic continues to give us new questions.
Maybe some of yours are answered here!
With the current coronavirus pandemic upon us, many of our patient’s parents have questions and are looking for guidance. We’ve learned that the situation continues to change regularly. We will be keeping the information posted here as up to date as is possible.
The delta variant of COVID-19 has taken our city in force and we have definitely seen a significant wave of cases hit our city over the past several weeks. This wave has changed some of what we understood about the pandemic and several of the questions below have been updated.
Thankfully, we can still say that COVID-19 has proven to be less serious in children. Most of our patients who had the illness, had mild courses. That said, we have had patients who were more seriously or significantly affected by this virus. Children under age 12 are still not eligible for the vaccine, so continuing to take careful precautions around our children remains important.
Of course people have questions. We’ve put together a list of some of the most common things people are calling about and have answered them here.
What about the delta variant? Can vaccinated people get it and should my family be doing anything differently because of this variant?
As you have likely heard, vaccinated people can become infected with the delta variant, and they can spread it to others (both vaccinated and unvaccinated people). Thankfully, the vaccines are still very effective at preventing hospitalization and severe illness and seem to be helpful at reducing transmission of this variant as well.
The presence of this variant in our community is causing many of us to rethink our exposures especially when considering our need to protect unvaccinated people in our families (for example, kids). Wearing a mask when inside near people who don’t live in your household is a great way to reduce risk to our families. Considering other exposures carefully and opting for outside alternatives to inside events could be very important as well.
Many of our patient families may have other specific questions about exposures and prevention. If so, feel free to reach out to our nursing staff or your pediatrician through the patient portal.
The COVID-19 vaccine is becoming available for more and more children. Should my child be vaccinated?
The short answer is, Yes.
All of the pediatricians at Laurelwood are strongly recommending the COVID-19 vaccine for almost all of our patients. Although this illness has been mild for most of the pediatric patients who have been infected, we have seen several children who had more severe, or more prolonged cases of COVID-19.
In addition to the benefit of protecting your child from potential complications of COVID-19, fully vaccinated individuals who are exposed do not need to quarantine. We anticipate that vaccinated children will be able to participate in school for the 21-22 school year much more consistently.
Although the details are far from clear at this point, having a high percentage of student vaccinated, will allow reduction in masking and distancing requirements that have made school difficult for this academic year.
If you have questions about vaccinating your child, please speak to your pediatrician!
When will the vaccine be available for kids under 12?
We anticipate that the next group who will be approved will be the 5-11 year olds. The FDA is being very careful with monitoring safety data in the ongoing trials and has recently asked for more data before approving the vaccine for this age group.
Although we want to see our younger patients vaccinated, we also want to be able to tell our patients’ parents that this vaccine is safe in this age group. So, along with you, we will be patiently but anxiously waiting for the time when we can know more and hopefully this preventive will be available for these patients. Based on the current timelines, we think it may be mid to late fall before we will know more.
Will Laurelwood offer the COVID-19 vaccine?
So far, the only COVID-19 vaccine that has been approved for anyone under 18 years old is the Pfizer vaccine. Due to storage and ordering requirements we are not able to offer the Pfizer vaccine in our office currently. So for now, we are recommending that our eligible patients receive the vaccine at any public site or pharmacy. Thankfully, there is very good supply of vaccine, and you should be able to find appointments or walk in opportunities easily available.
Should my child wear a face mask?
Yes. Facial coverings are a key part of preventing the spread of Coronavirus.
We recommend that all of our school aged patients wear masks while in school during the current wave of infection.
Local requirements are changing rapidly, but despite these changes, please remember that the CDC still recommends masking for all individuals over age 2 when indoors with people outside of their household. Some exceptions to that guideline are starting to come out regarding vaccinated individuals. these can be found on the CDC website.
Are you doing testing for COVID-19 at Laurelwood?
We now have Point of Care testing available with rapid (about 15 minute) tests available for our patients. We can do rapid PCR tests or rapid antigen tests depending on the circumstance and availability. Your pediatrician can help you understand which one of those may be best for your child.
If your child has been exposed to COVID and is under quarantine, we will arrange for your pediatrician to meet you at your car, evaluate the exposure and help determine which test is most appropriate. The test sample can be collected and you will receive the results later that day or within a couple of days depending on the type of test that was ordered.
If your child is ill but has not had known exposure directly to COVID-19, please make an appointment with your pediatrician. During that visit, we can evaluate the history, any symptoms or exposures, examine your child, and give you guidance about the test as well as administer the test. In addition, we will also be looking for other non-COVID-19 reasons for your child’s symptoms and treat them as appropriate.
COVID-19 testing does not require a deep nasopharyngeal (NP) swab and our tests are specifically designed to be run on swabs from the front of the nose. This procedure is far less uncomfortable than the deep swabs that were commonly done earlier in the pandemic.
At the time of your visit, you may end up leaving our office before the results have come back. Please make sure that you have access to your child’s patient portal account to receive test results.
My child was exposed to COVID-19. Do they need a test?
People who have been exposed to COVID-19 should isolate from others for 7-14 days after the exposure. If the individual has a negative test on or after day 5, they can typically leave isolation after 7 days. Children who have been exposed to COVID-19 and have symptoms should be tested even before day 5.
If you feel that your child needs to be tested, you may make an appointment but please be clear with our staff that there has been an exposure so that we can make sure that we can see your child in the safest way possible.
Someone in my household has COVID-19. Can you help me understand the quarantine situation?
.Quarantine durations can be confusing, here is an attempt to make is as simple as is possible.
Anyone who is currently infected with COVID-19 should quarantine for 10 days from the date of the positive test or if there are clear symptoms of illness, from the start of those symptoms.
For vaccinated individuals in the household, there is no need to quarantine but these people should be tested if they develop symptoms or if they are asymptomatic between day 3-5 from the exposure to COVID-19. Some families may elect to reduce the exposure between the infected individual and vaccinated individuals in the house with physical distancing or masking.
Unvaccinated people in the household should quarantine for 7 days after they were last exposed to the contagious person and should be tested on day 5-7 of that time period. This means that this quarantine can start at the time that they are separated from the contagious person. If separation is not possible, this quarantine begins after the infected person completes the 10 day quarantine.
After someone recovers from COVID-19 and completes the 10 day quarantine, that individual is considered likely immune for the next 3 months. If they are exposed again during that time period, they should follow the same guidelines that a vaccinated individual would follow.
My child is sick but attending school in person. Does he need to be checked before returning to school?
Throughout the school year, most schools adopted protocols requiring COVID-19 testing if children had certain groups of symptoms. We continue to follow the guidelines that LeBonheur has published about returning to school as safely as possible. These guidelines categorize symptoms as higher risk or lower risk for COVID-19. The higher risk symptoms include: fever, shortness of breath, new or worsening cough, and loss or taste or smell. The lower risk symptoms include: sore throat, nasal congestion, vomiting / diarrhea, muscle ache, headache, and fatigue. If your child experiences one higher risk symptom or two or more lower risk symptoms, they should be evaluated by the pediatrician. If a non-COVID-19 source for the symptoms is identified, the illness will be treated appropriate. Otherwise, a COVID-19 test will likely be done.
Individual situations are always unique, so contacting our nurse or speaking with your pediatrician can help clarify these recommendations for your child’s particular case.
Should we come to Laurelwood to have my child's checkup?
Yes. Now is the time to start catching up on important wellness visits and vaccines that were missed due to the recent restrictions.
We have taken new measures to protect our healthy patients who come in for their checkup visits. Not only do we have separate waiting rooms available, but also we have designated exam rooms as “well only” to make sure that we limit potential risks. We are also scheduling well visits only in the morning times with sick visits in the afternoon. Our doctors and clinical staff are wearing masks to help avoid the possibility of asymptomatic exposure as well.
During this time, please minimize the number of family members who accompany your child to the visit.