COVID FAQsMay 12, 2021 8:36 am
Updated November 4th, 2021
To view Frequently Asked Questions answers, click on the question to reveal the answer.
The data from the vaccine trials suggest that it is both safe and effective for children. The COVID-19 vaccines have been developed under the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.
We know the vaccine helps prevent kids from getting COVID-19. Although most children who have COVID-19 have mild-moderate symptoms, we know that children with medical complexity are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Recently the only children we have had hospitalized at Children’s Minnesota are those who are not vaccinated (either due to age and ineligibility or personal choice). This is especially important to remember in light of the delta variant, which is more contagious than other coronavirus variants. The current vaccines are still effective in preventing severe illness from the delta variant of the virus. Children can also have complications such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children that may require intensive care or long-lasting symptoms that affect their health and well-being. The virus can cause death in children, although this is rarer than for adults.
The vaccine helps prevent or reduce the spread of COVID-19: Like adults, children also can transmit the coronavirus to others if they’re infected, even when they have no symptoms. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine can protect the child and others, reducing the chance that they transmit the virus to others, including family members and friends who may be more susceptible to severe consequences of the infection.
Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 can help stop other variants from emerging: Cases of COVID-19 are increasing among children, and the delta variant appears to be playing a role. Reducing viral transmission by getting vaccinated also reduces the virus’ chance to mutate into new variants that may be even more dangerous. However, the virus can transmit easily between unvaccinated children and adults, giving new variants a chance to emerge.
Having your child vaccinated for COVID-19 can help restore a more normal life. Getting vaccinated will also help keep children in school and participating in the things they enjoy. Children exposed to the coronavirus who are vaccinated are less likely to get infected, and so are more likely to be able to continue participating with less disruptions to school attendance and other activities.
COVID-19 vaccines help protect the community: Another reason to strongly consider a COVID-19 vaccine for your child is to protect the health of those living and working in your area. Each child or adult infected with the coronavirus can transmit the virus to others in the community. If this happens some of the people so infected will become quite sick themselves or further spread the virus to others who will become very sick, and maybe even die — all because of a preventable infection.
Posted 11/4/21 @ 11:36 a.m.
Yes, your child should be vaccinated regardless of whether they have already had COVID-19 because research has not yet shown how long they are protected from getting COVID-19 again and evidence is emerging that people get better protection by being fully vaccinated compared with having had COVID-19. If your child was treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, they should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Otherwise they can be vaccinated any time after they have recovered from their acute illness and no longer remain in quarantine.
If your child has a history of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), consider delaying vaccination until your child has recovered from being sick and for 90 days after the date of diagnosis of MIS-C.
posted 11/04/21 @ 10:05 a.m.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, that has received FDA authorization of their COVID-19 vaccine for administration in children 12 and up, has reported that side effects of the shots appear to be similar in children and adults. Your child might notice pain at the injection site (upper arm) and could feel more tired than usual. Headache, achy muscles or joints, and even fever and chills are also possible. These side effects, which can be managed by acetaminophen or ibuprofen, are usually temporary and generally clear up within 48 hours.
A special thanks to pediatric colleagues of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, for answering questions in the community for parents and guardians.
posted 5/12/21 @ 9:45 am
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) take vaccine safety precautions very seriously. They will examine the available clinical trial data before deciding whether to authorize vaccination among different age groups, and they will work with vaccine manufacturers to continue to watch for any signs of safety issues as vaccination programs continue among the public.
For specific information about the FDA’s recent Emergency Use Approval for Pfizer-BioNTech in adolescents (12-15), read here.
A special thanks to pediatric colleagues of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, for answering questions in the community for parents and guardians.
posted 5/12/21 @ 9:47 am
Since April 2021, there have been more than a thousand reports of cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining outside the heart) happening after some COVID-19 vaccinations. Considering the hundreds of millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses that have been administered, these reports are very rare. The problem occurs more often in adolescents (teens) and young adults, and in males. The myocarditis or pericarditis in almost all cases is mild and resolves quickly. In the 5-11 trials no cases of myocarditis were reported. Additionally, myocarditis is a much more common complication of having COVID-19 than from getting vaccinated.
COVID & Schools
The best available evidence shows that wearing a mask in public reduces the spread of COVID-19 and also offers some protection to the wearer. In addition, studies have shown that oxygen and carbon dioxide levels remain stable among people wearing masks. It is very unlikely for oxygen levels to decrease or carbon dioxide levels to rise while wearing the type of masks recommended by the CDC. In general, people with asthma, both young and old, are not at risk of trouble breathing by wearing facial coverings. Therefore, the providers and nurses at CRCCS will not provide mask exemption letters. There are very few legitimate medical reasons why a person cannot mask. The CDC’s exemptions are children under age 2 years, and anyone who is having trouble breathing, is unconscious, is incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. Although “anyone with trouble breathing” is included in this list, the vast majority of our patients are able to safely wear a mask. Patients with very severe lung disease and very low lung function (below 30%), or those in the midst of an exacerbation, may not be able to mask. We recognize there are some patients in our practice with special behavioral and developmental reasons that make masking impossible. In that case we ask that you reach out to your primary care provider for guidance. If you or your child really cannot wear a mask because of the severity of lung disease, we recommend you strictly avoid situations where wearing a mask is recommended, such as going out in public, as this would inherently be too high risk for someone with such severe lung disease.
The most common reason that people have trouble with masks are the material or fit of the mask. You may have to try different options to find the best mask for you or your child. When choosing a mask it does not have to be tight-fitting. Many can wear a loose-fitting mask that covers the nose and mouth, but does not fall off. It should not be so tight around the ears and neck that it makes breathing uncomfortable. A loose-fitting mask does not really protect the wearer, but does decrease spread of respiratory droplets and protects others. Wearing a mask for extended periods of time can be uncomfortable for anyone. If this is the case for you or your child, our desensitization protocol can be found on our clinic website:
If your child cannot wear a mask because it interferes with breathing, and you have tried implementing our desensitization protocol, please schedule an in-person appointment with your CRCCS provider. Your child will need to keep their mask on for the duration of the visit. We will examine them while the mask is on and monitor their oxygen saturation. If necessary, a 6-minute walk test that measures their oxygen level with activity may be ordered.
Every child who comes to our clinic can technically fit under the high-risk umbrella because they have lung disease, however, despite this most of our patients should be able to go to school. Fortunately, most children, even those with underlying health problems/special needs, who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, have done well. In a meta-analysis published in early July that looked at over 7,800 children, more than 90% were either asymptomatic or had mild-moderate symptoms that could be managed at home. Less than 10% of children required hospitalization, and less than 1% required intensive care. Could your child get COVID-19 if they go to school? Yes. But the data we have to date suggests that even if they do, they will do well, and they will recover. Children with mild to moderate lung disease (mild intermittent asthma, mild persistent asthma, moderate persistent asthma, cystic fibrosis, recurrent bronchiolitis, recurrent croup, reactive airways disease) should be able to attend school. Data suggests that they are not at increased risk for severe disease. Those with severe/advanced lung disease likely can also attend school, but they MAY be at increased risk of having more severe symptoms. Patients with severe lung disease should review their risk with their pulmonologist. Again, based on our clinics experience and the available literature, most children should be able to attend school safely. That being said, we recommend that all families do a global risk assessment for their family. If your child goes to school and brings the SARS-COV2 virus home, are there other people in your home or with whom your child frequently has contact with that are higher risk because of age or underlying health conditions? If the answer to that question is yes, and those individuals are staying safe at home and are not out and about in the community, then you should consider keeping your child home.
COVID & Sports
The answer to this question is similar to whether or not your child should go to school. We believe physical activity is important and for many of our patients it is important for maintaining their lung health. If your child’s sport/activity is outdoors and measures have been taken to limit close contact and promote socially distance, and they do not have severe or advanced lung disease, then they can likely participate. We recommend using caution with indoor activities, particularly if participants are not wearing masks or face coverings. As is the case with school if your child participates in these activities and brings the SARS-COV2 virus home, you should consider if there are other people in your home or with whom your child frequently has contact with that are higher risk because of age or underlying health conditions? If the answer to that question is yes, and those individuals are staying safe at home and are not out and about in the community, then you should consider keeping your child out of sports/activities.
We are here to help you stay healthy and safe during the COVID19 pandemic. We support the executive order that mandates a mask be worn while indoors in public places, even while playing sports.
The best available evidence shows that wearing a mask in public reduces the spread of COVID19 and also offers some protection to the wearer. In addition, studies have shown that oxygen and carbon dioxide levels remain stable among people wearing masks. It is very unlikely for oxygen levels to decrease or carbon dioxide levels to rise while wearing the type of masks recommended by the CDC. In general, people with asthma, both young and old, are not at risk of trouble breathing by wearing facial coverings. Therefore, the providers and nurses at CRCCS will not provide mask exemption letters.
Part of being on a team is defending and protecting your teammates. One of the best ways that athletes can do that is to wear a mask or cloth face coverings for most sports to reduce the risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.
The most common reason that people have trouble with masks are the material or fit of the mask. You may have to try different options to find the best mask for you or your child. When choosing a mask it does not have to be tight-fitting. Many can wear a loose-fitting mask that covers the nose and mouth, but does not fall off. It should not be so tight around the ears and neck that it makes breathing uncomfortable. A loose-fitting mask does not really protect the wearer, but does decrease spread of respiratory droplets and protects others. While we do not endorse any particular brand of mask we have heard from some patients that the Under Armour sports mask works well. We have also heard that silicone mask cages/brackets that pull the mask away from the face are helpful. For hockey players CCM has developed their “Game on mask” for improved airflow and less condensation.
Wearing a mask for extended periods of time can be uncomfortable for anyone. Have your child practice wearing it while doing drills or playing their sport before the season starts. If the cloth face covering is removed for a break, the athlete should remain at least 6 feet away from all other individuals.
Some additional tips about masks during sports:
- Have a special place to store the mask – your child might keep it in the same spot in their sports bag when they are not wearing it.
- Keep it clean – Just like you should sanitize sports equipment before and after each use, wash cloth face coverings daily in hot water. Do not reuse cloth face coverings until they have been cleaned.
- Set a good example – Coaches, officials, volunteers, and spectators should also protect themselves and others by always wearing cloth face coverings. By doing this, they are also setting a good example for young athletes.
Remember – Wearing cloth face coverings whenever possible and safe helps young athletes protect their teammates, themselves, and the sports season.
If your child cannot wear a mask because it interferes with breathing, and you have tried implementing our desensitization protocol, please schedule an in-person appointment with your CRCCS provider. Your child will need to keep their mask on for the duration of the visit. We will examine them while the mask is on and monitor their oxygen saturations. If necessary, an exercise challenge test can be scheduled at our Saint Paul location. This will be done with a mask on to see how exercising with a mask impacts your child’s breathing. The safety and health of our patients, families, and community is our top priority. Until new therapies or the COVID19 vaccine is approved for children, wearing a mask, excellent hand hygiene, and social distancing are the best defenses we have.
COVID & Treatment
Signs and symptoms of COVID19 can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, fatigue, congestion, or loss of taste or smell. Other less common symptoms include gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. Not everyone with COVID-19 has all of these symptoms, and some people may not have any symptoms. If symptoms are present your child should be self isolated/quarantined at home, away from others. They should not leave your home for any reason until 10 days after symptom onset and 1 day after resolution of fever and respiratory symptoms (whichever lasts longer). If leaving the house less than 14 days after symptom onset, they should wear a mask. Self treatment includes tylenol (acetaminophen) for fever, pain or myalgia. If your child has an asthma control plan or respiratory control plan you should diligently follow their plan for worsening respiratory symptoms. If sick, check their temperature daily and monitor for symptoms of respiratory distress. If they need emergent care you should come to Children’s emergency department.
COVID & Testing
People who have symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested. In general, people who do not have symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. This Minnesota Department of Health website has a screening tool that will help you determine if you or your child should be tested for COVID-19. Should I Get Tested for COVID-19?
Most clinics and hospitals across the state have the ability to collect samples for testing. To protect our patients we are not seeing sick children in person in our offices. We recommend you contact your primary care provider to determine where they are referring patients for testing. Call ahead before going to the clinic or hospital to be tested. Not all clinics test people who do not have symptoms. The Minnesota Department of Health website also offers a list of testing locations.
Antibody testing to identify the presence of an immune response to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID19) is available at Children’s. That being said we have been discouraged from ordering testing unless children are critically ill and there is concern for Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). The serology testing is intended only to detect antibodies to the virus, not to diagnose recent or active infection, and it cannot pinpoint the date of exposure. Some individuals, particularly those who are immunosuppressed, may never develop detectable antibodies. A positive serology result suggests a patient is less likely to get infected or re-infected compared to individuals who do not have any antibodies in their blood. However, we are continuing to learn about the level and duration of protective immunity, and can’t definitively say how long or how protective that immunity is. We also do not know if the test will be covered by insurance.
COVID & Traveling
We recommend visiting the CDC website and reviewing the considerations for travelers page (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-in-the-us.html). COVID-19 cases and deaths have been reported in all 50 states, and the situation is constantly changing. Because travel increases your chances of getting infected and spreading COVID-19, staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting sick. If you are thinking about traveling away from your local community, ask:
Is COVID-19 spreading in your community?
Even if you don’t have symptoms, you can spread COVID-19 to others while traveling.
Will you or those you are traveling with be within 6 feet of others during or after your trip?
Being within 6 feet of others increases your chances of getting infected and infecting others.
Do you live with someone who is more likely to get very ill from COVID-19?
If you get infected while traveling you can spread COVID-19 to loved ones when you return, even if you don’t have symptoms.
Does the state or local government where you live or at your destination require you to stay home for 14 days after traveling?
Some state and local governments may require people who have recently traveled to stay home for 14 days.
If you get sick with COVID-19, will you have to miss work or school?
People with COVID-19 disease need to stay home until they are no longer considered infectious. Do not travel if you are sick, or if you have been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days. Do not travel with someone who is sick. If You Travel Protect yourself and others during your trip: Clean your hands often, avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, avoid close contact with others, keep 6 feet of physical distance from others, wear a cloth face covering in public, cover coughs and sneezes, and pick up food at drive-throughs, curbside restaurant service, or stores.
- Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines | CDC
- COVID-19 Vaccine: What Parents Need to Know | Johns Hopkins Medicine
- Information on COVID-19 | Children’s MN
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for Emergency Use in Adolescents in Another Important Action in Fight Against Pandemic | FDA
- A Study to Evaluate the Safety, Reactogenicity, and Effectiveness of mRNA-1273 Vaccine in Adolescents 12 to <18 Years Old to Prevent COVID-19 – Full Text View – ClinicalTrials.gov
- AAP: Wear face coverings during most sports | American Academy of Pediatrics (aappublications.org)
- Masks & Sports: Should Youth Athletes Wear Face Coverings During COVID-19? – HealthyChildren.org
- Effect of Wearing the Elevation Training Mask on Aerobic Capacity, Lung Function, and Hematological Variables – PubMed (nih.gov)
- COVID-19 Organized Sports Practice and Games Guidance for Youth and Adults (state.mn.us)
- UA SPORTSMASK | Under Armour
- Skater Game on Mask | CCM Hockey
- COVID-19 Vaccine Phases and Planning – Minnesota Dept. of Health (state.mn.us)
Categorized in: COVID-Information