FAQs for Parents
The risk depends on where you live and if you have recently traveled. If you are not in an area where COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) is spreading, have not traveled to an outbreak area or been in close contact with someone who has the virus, the chances of you or your family getting it are currently low.
It’s understandable that you may feel stressed or anxious about this situation, but parents should be prepared and aware of the latest information on the virus, not scared.
While people of all ages can be infected with this virus, it appears that children may be less susceptible to being infected. Their exposure to a wide variety of different respiratory viruses circulating in daycare centers and schools may have a protective effect.
Have a household plan in case your community experiences the spread of this virus. Be prepared with the following:
- Practice preventative actions now. This includes handwashing, proper cough etiquette, cleaning surfaces in your home and avoiding people who are sick.
- Have a two-week supply of food and essentials (i.e. toilet paper, etc.) at home.
- Make sure you have one bottle of Tylenol or other fever reducers in your medicine cabinet.
- Be prepared for potential workplace and child care changes. If there is an outbreak and your employer or your child’s daycare/school need to temporarily close, have a plan in place for how you will handle this change.
How can I protect my child from this virus?
- Unless you have been told by your child’s health care provider that your child should not wear a mask because of a chronic medical condition, children over 2 years old should wear a mask when in public.
- Your child should clean hands often (using sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, or soap and water).
- As appropriate, they should be taught not touch their face, and to sneeze or cough into their elbow, or into facial tissue and then discard it.
- Limit your child’s social interactions with those outside the immediate family to other well children, and play outdoors in safe spaces where they can interact at a safe distance.
It can be hard to tell the difference, but both run their course with time in most children in a few days with no complications. Make sure you know COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough and shortness of breath). If your child has trouble breathing you should access medical care.
Note: It’s very important for all children of at least 6 months old to get the flu vaccine this season. Flu is much more widespread. The vaccine prevents 55% of flu cases in children and if they do get the flu, the vaccine will decrease the severity of the illness.
While it is helpful for kids to be informed about the virus, limit repeated news exposure and social media regarding COVID-19, particularly for young children and those prone to anxiety. Repeated exposure to distressing information and images in the news can exacerbate anxiety.
Other tips include:
- Find out what your child has heard or seen about COVID-19 and when talking to them, stick to the facts.
- Calmly present information that is developmentally appropriate for your child and dispel any rumors that they may have heard.
- Talk to children about their feelings regarding changes due to COVID-19. Validating your child’s feelings can also provide reassurance.
- Explain to children that many expert government workers, scientists and medical personnel are working on how to keep people safe from COVID-19.
- Keep lines of communication open with children, as the situation is developing.
- For children who are prone to anxiety or concern about germs, your primary care doctor can advise about when it is appropriate to seek professional treatment.Establish a daily routine.
- Help your child find ways to stay connected with friends and loved ones.
- Assist children with preparing for changes to school and extracurricular activities. Talk to your child about the anxiety they may be experiencing with this.
- Stay in the present, focus on known facts, and do not allow negative thinking to impact your health.
- Continue to take all of your medications exactly as prescribed and be sure to ask any questions you may have to your provider.
- Minimize your use of any recreational substances as this can lead to increased depression, increased anxiety, and negative thinking. Think about decreasing or quitting smoking to improve your health.
- Stay in touch with friends, family, and colleagues for your benefit and to be supportive of them. This mutual support will enhance your sense of well-being
- Keep your medical appointments, continue to exercise, eat healthy foods, and engage with spiritual resources if that works for you.
- If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, reach out to friends and family and consider therapy to manage any symptoms you may be experiencing. Call 911 if you ever feel your life is at risk. There are many resources at our institution to help you with any crisis you may be experiencing.
Pregnancy and New Moms
To help control the spread of novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), Wake Forest Baptist has canceled all birth center and NICU tours and parent/maternity classes at all hospital locations beginning March 12, 2020.
As of now, we have no data on whether COVID-19 increases the risk of birth defects or the risk of miscarriage. If it behaves like other coronaviruses it is very unlikely to cause birth defects but it could increase the risk of miscarriage or preterm delivery if the mother is critically ill.
Fortunately, early data suggests that pregnant women are at no greater risk for serious illness when they acquire COVID-19 and if they are young and healthy, this is very rare. This is different from the flu where pregnancy is a risk factor for more serious infection. That said, preferably it would be wise not to become pregnant until we are through this pandemic. If a patient did become pregnant, it's important for her to practice good mitigation strategies to help prevent acquiring the disease.
Precautions to Take For Children and Infants
Larry Givner, MD, professor of pediatric infectious diseases and a pediatric disease expert, recently spoke with WGHP’s Melissa Painter about children and COVID-19.