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As the Delta variant rages across the country, parents have been concerned about how to protect their children from COVID-19. Studies have shown that the virus can be airborne, in addition to being transmitted through large respiratory droplets.

Here’s what parents and caregivers should know about COVID and children:

Can Young Children Catch COVID-19?

Absolutely. According to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics, cases have actually been increasing among children, in part due school reopenings, the highly contagious Delta variant, and the lack of a vaccine for kids. Children represent about 15% of all U.S. COVID-19 cases, with a recent 10% increase in the total number of reported child cases.

So while it’s true that COVID-19 is generally milder in kids than in adults, it’s important to understand that kids can catch it, spread it to others, get sick enough to need hospitalization, or even die.

How Does COVID-19 present in children?

Coughing, fever and chills, and difficulty breathing are the classic symptoms for children: so are a sore throat and a loss of taste or smell. Fatigue, vomiting, and congestion can also be symptoms. You should alert a medical expert if your child has difficulty breathing or catching his or her breath, can’t keep down any liquids, shows deep confusion or can’t be woken up, or has bluish lips.

Can Children Develop “Long COVID?”

Yes, although it seems relatively rare: children who catch COVID have been known to have lingering symptoms, including headaches, fatigue, sleep disturbance, concentration difficulties, and abdominal pain. According to research by Melbourne’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), children have a much lower risk of acquiring these symptoms, and lingering symptoms tend to resolve in around 3 months.

Can I get my child vaccinated?

Vaccine maker Pfizer has announced its COVID-19 vaccine works well in children ages 5 to 11, with the FDA approval allowing vaccines to possibly begin rolling out as soon as the end of October. Children under 12 will almost certainly be getting a 10-microgram dose of vaccine, compared with a 30-microgram dose for adults: it seems that lower doses can be just as effective in people under 65. Lower doses also mean fewer side-effects, which largely mimic those seen in adults: a bit of pain at the injection site, and sometimes some fever and stuffiness.

How do I keep the children in my care safe until then?

Have your children wear masks in public and maintain social distancing. Remember that indoor activities are generally riskier than outdoor ones. But in places where kids have to spend a lot of time indoors, one of the key factors is ventilation. Strategies include getting kids outside as often as is practical—whether that’s lunch breaks or classes held outside the classroom—and opening doors and windows. It’s also possible to set air conditioning systems to bring in as much air as possible. The more air flow there is, the greater the protection against airborne diseases like COVID-19.

Life Balance Technologies helps hospitals and companies easily identify airborne infection risks and effectively manage their HVAC systems. By streamlining the process for compliance, auditing, and reporting, we help reduce costs and save lives.