By Dr. Joanna Storey
In the workliife of a pediatrician, April is typically the season for school shots, sports physicals, and medical exams for summer camp participation. The winter illnesses like flu are receding, and parents are visiting our offices to deal with the minor injuries and conditions like insect stings and poison ivy that are invariably a part of life when children move outside to play in the springtime warmth. Of course the difference this year is that covid is still with us.
Fortunately, at CMG we’ve seen very few cases of serious covid infection over the last year. Children continue to have mostly mild or no symptoms when they become infected with covid, and our rate of positive tests has declined significantly since its peak three months ago. Despite this, we remain vigilant with acute covid testing in our offices, using both the rapid 15-minute test and confirmatory PCR testing at an outside lab when indicated. We can also provide a rapid in-office test for covid antibodies to check for evidence of past infection.
Although kids’ infections tend to be mild, they can still expose vulnerable older adults in their communities and we’ve had a handful of patients in our practice who have developed the condition called Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome associated with Coronavirus (MIS-C). This rare but potentially life-threatening condition can develop about a month after a covid infection. It often requires hospital-based therapies and can result in chronic problems.
And, as of this writing, vaccination against covid is not available for the majority of our patients. The Pfizer vaccine is currently approved for use in those 16 years and up and while the Moderna vaccine covers 18 and up. Pfizer has submitted promising data on the effectiveness of their vaccine in children ages 12 through 15, but we are still awaiting an emergency use authorization in this age range from the FDA. We’ll have to wait longer for the completion of research trials to assure that the vaccine is safe and effective for our youngest patients.
So, with covid still out there causing problems for many, I’ve been giving the following advice to parents in my practice:
- Continue to be thoughtful about potential exposures to covid by continuing appropriate infection control measures outside of your family unit.
- If your child has had a history of covid infection in the recent past and develops symptoms such as fever, abdominal pain and vomiting, call our offices for an evaluation immediately.
- Those who are 16 years and older without vaccine contraindications should get a covid shot. These are available through the health department at their drive-up sites (covidvaccine.umc.edu) or through Kroger.com or CVS.com.