Talking to Kids About COVID-19

The best way to protect kids from COVID-19 is for them to get vaccinated once they are eligible. Those who are 5-11 are eligible to get the Pfizer vaccine. Learn more about some of the other steps families can take to stay safe.

Q & A:

What preventative measures should parents take?

Proper hand washing is one of the most important steps everyone can take, including kids, to reduce the spread of germs.

"Wash your hands, wash your hands, and then wash your hands," said Thomas Murray, MD, PhD, a Yale Medicine pediatric infectious disease specialist. “Kids like to touch their face. Your nose, mouth, and eyes are all portals of entry for viruses into your body.”

Kids should also stay away from people who are sick, especially older individuals and those with underlying health problems. If kids get sick, they need to stay home.

How should parents prepare?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending parents create a plan of action. That includes creating an emergency contact list, plan to care for family members who might be at a greater risk of complications, be prepared if schools or childcare facilities close and plan for changes at work. If a child does become sick, parents will need to notify their child’s school.

When should a parent call the doctor?

Call your provider if you know your child has been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, or if she/he has symptoms such as a high fever, severe cough or worsening respiratory symptoms. 

Families should avoid the emergency room unless their child urgently requires care. This will keep emergency services available for the children who need help right away, while protecting others who are at risk.

Do COVID-19 symptoms differ from flu symptoms?

COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Kids may also experience congestion, runny nose, a loss of taste or smell, vomiting and diarrhea.

Flu symptoms are similar, and usually come on suddenly. Flu symptoms include fever higher than 100.5 degrees, extreme exhaustion, muscle or body aches, and chills. If influenza is diagnosed early, within the first 48 hours, then there are medicines that may help your child get better faster. 

“It doesn’t get rid of the flu all together, but it can make your child feel better a little faster,” Dr. Murray said.