COVID-19 GUIDE FOR PARENTS
What is COVID-19?
The coronaviruses are a family of respiratory viruses, some of which have caused severe respiratory illnesses, such as SARS and MERS. The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is called Sars-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2). This particular coronavirus is novel (meaning “new”), which means that it is new to humans, thereby able to cause widespread disease in those without immunity. The disease caused by this virus is called COVID-19. Thus, the new human virus known as Sars-CoV-2 causes the disease called COVID-19. Experts believe this virus was initially transmitted to humans from another species. At this time, there have been various variants of this virus. The most recent variant is called the Delta variant, and it has proven to be far more contagious than the original variant, known as Alpha.
How is COVID-19 spread?
The Sars-CoV-2 virus is an airborne virus meaning that it can be spread through respiratory droplets (sneezing or coughing) and it is more likely spread person-to-person when in close contact with each other (within 6 feet). People exposed to the virus can be asymptomatic and still spread the virus, but it is believed they are most contagious when they are showing symptoms already. The respiratory droplets will land on any surface and can be easily spread by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your own mouth, nose or eyes.
As parents, you must also consider the risk of fecal-oral transmission when dealing with your children, which is another reason washing your hands often for 20 seconds is highly recommended. One of the largest concerns is community spread because the virus can be spread within an area and you will not know when or how you were infected.
What symptoms should I look out for?
Those affected by COVID-19 may be asymptomatic carriers or exhibit symptoms ranging from mild to severe illness and even death. Symptoms can appear any time within 2-14 days after exposure to the coronavirus, which is why social distancing is important as well as self-isolation if any possibility of having the virus.
Some common symptoms of the virus include:
- Shortness of breath
There are less common symptoms as well that one should still watch out for including diarrhea, body aches, headaches, and sore throat.
Who is at risk for COVID-19?
Everyone is at risk but there are those that have a higher risk of severe illness including people aged 65 or older, people of all ages with underlying medical conditions and people living in a nursing home or long-term care facility.
Kids can be infected by COVID-19, however, they do not seem to be at higher risk than adults for developing severe disease. Actually, infected children seem to develop milder symptoms when infected than adults. Pediatric data indicates children at higher risk of severe illness when infected are either under 1 year of age, immunocompromised children, and those with chronic medical conditions (particularly lung conditions).
Tell me about the vaccines! Are they safe? Should I get them?
There are three vaccines currently available in the United States under that have EUA status by the FDA. Only one, Pfizer-BioNTech, is available for children 12 and up. Moderna is available for those 18 and older, as well as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen. The most useful website discussing vaccines can be found at the CDC: CLICK HERE.
Thus far, the vaccines appear to be safe compared to the risks of contracting Covid-19. What we know currently is that the vaccines alone will likely not fully prevent development of Covid-19 and the ability to spread it. The Delta variant has proven to be very contagious and spreads even amongst vaccinated individuals; however, the vaccines appear to be very effective at preventing severe disease requiring hospitalization or leading to death.
As a reminder, the primary purpose of vaccination is to lower mortality. With enough vaccinated individuals, we also may be able to achieve herd immunity. But Covid-19 is probably here to stay for quite some time. And booster injections will likely be needed, similar to flu vaccines.
What if I am pregnant?
Pregnant women can contract Covid-19 and can have serious complications. The vaccines available have been shown to be safe and effective in pregnant women. The CDC can provide more information regarding coronavirus and pregnancy. CLICK HERE.
When should I seek medical treatment?
The time to seek emergent medical treatment is when concerning one or more emergency symptoms develop including shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new onset confusion, inability to arouse, and/or a bluish color of lips or face.
For patients with new infections who are generally well and less than 10 days from infection, whether vaccinated or not, treatment IS available. Currently, the FDA has given emergency-use approval (EUA) for monoclonal antibodies, known as Regen-Cov. These are synthetic antibodies were developed by Regeneron and Eli Lilly t0 be infused into patients soon after they develop symptoms to help them mount a faster immune response. Regeneron’s infusion contains a cocktail of two antibodies, casirivimab and imdevimab, which the FDA has given EUA status for administering this antibody cocktail to anyone over the age of 12 who tests positive for Covid-19 OR for anyone who has been exposed to the virus. The goal is to prevent worsening symptoms that could lead to hospitalization or deaths. More info can be found here: CLICK HERE.
In our local Houston area, Regen-Cov is available at a wide variety of locations, including most emergency rooms and urgent care centers. The antibody cocktail is given as an intravenous infusion or subcutaneous injection.
Where can I get tested for COVID-19?
We advise calling your health care provider if you believe you are at risk (recent exposure to COVID-19 positive individual) or have symptoms consistent with COVID-19. It is important to remember that people WITHOUT symptoms can also carry the virus. As more testing strategies are developed, it will be easier to test the general population. We currently have several testing options available – call the office at 832-431-4336 for more information.
What is the best prevention?
Vaccination is the best prevention available. However, social distancing is still important especially in areas of widespread infections. This can be done by keeping a 6 foot distance from others and avoiding contact with others, especially those that are sick! Practice good hygiene especially when it comes to washing your hands; wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, mouth, etc as much as possible before cleaning your hands (and after.) Make sure to clean and disinfect high touch surface areas frequently (doorknobs, light switches, credit card terminals, cell phones, electronics, counter tops, toilets, etc.) It also helps to launder clothes in the warmest appropriate setting.
Video updates for COVID-19
COVID-19 and RSV – an update with Dr. Alana [August 12, 2021]: CLICK HERE.
Dr. Alana’s interview with Dr. Bryn Cooper [December 3, 2020]: CLICK HERE.
COVID-19 Testing Options with Dr. Alana and Camille [October 24, 2020]: CLICK HERE.
Dr. Alana’s interview with Fox26 Houston on COVID-19 Testing: What Parents Need To Know [September 30, 2020]: CLICK HERE.
Beating the Quarantine 15 with Catherine Kruppa, RD [September 9, 2020]
Dr. Alana’s interview of FOX 26 Houston about the reopening of schools in Texas [August 4, 2020]: CLICK HERE.
COVID-19 Update [July 31, 2020]: CLICK HERE.
Tips on traveling during the pandemic with Dr. Alana [July 24, 2020]: CLICK HERE.
Dr. Alana’s interview on FOX 26 Houston about the rise in COVID-19 cases in daycares across Texas. Mask up, stay safe [July 1, 2020]: CLICK HERE.
Dr. Alana gets Covid tested LIVE [June 29, 2020]: CLICK HERE.
Dr. Alana discusses Covid-19 and summer camp [June 10, 2020]: CLICK HERE.
How to talk to children about Covid-19 with Dr. Alana and Dr. Chad Brandt [April 22, 2020]: CLICK HERE.
COVID-19 update with Dr. Alana and Camille [April 13, 2020]: CLICK HERE.
Dr. Alana’s interview on Fox26 Houston on Covid-19 and kids [March 25, 2020]: CLICK HERE.
COVID-19 update with Dr. Alana and Destiny [March 24, 2020]: CLICK HERE.
What is 6 feet anyway?! Update with Dr. Alana, Destiny and Camille [March 24, 2020]: CLICK HERE.
COVID-19 update with Dr. Alana and Camille [March 18,2020]: CLICK HERE.
COVID-19 update with Dr. Alana and Camille[March 11, 2020]: CLICK HERE.
To receive the most up-to-date information on this novel coronavirus and how the disease process, transmission, symptoms and treatment are constantly evolving please visit the following sites that are helpful resources:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html
- World Health Organization (WHO) https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1
- Texas Department of State Health Services: https://www.dshs.state.tx.us/coronavirus/
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Last Updated: August 21, 2021
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, Texas Department of State Health Services
The content provided on this page is for informational use only and should not be used as a substitution for medical treatment provided by your health care provider..