The novel coronavirus has caused a pandemic of respiratory illness, which the World Health Organization (WHO) named COVID-19 in February 2020. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause the common cold and more severe diseases, such as SARS and MERS. COVID-19 spreads much like the flu and can cause severe breathing problems in some people.
The situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic is new territory for all of us, and there’s a lot of information out there to read. It is especially important during this time to keep communication between you and your kids open so that they don’t feel like they are being kept in the dark.
How does it spread?Similar to how the flu is spread, COVID-19 usually spreads from close person-to-person contact (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus may also spread when droplets remain in the air or land on surfaces people touch.
What are the symptoms?Reported symptoms of COVID-19 range from very mild to severe and even fatal. Most COVID-19 infections in healthy children are mild and do not require hospital care. Signs of COVID-19 can include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Shortness of breath from continued coughing
- Refusing liquids with decreased urine frequency
- Crying without ability to be consoled
- Fever that is not responsive to fever-reducing medications
- Behavior that is not normal for your child
What treatments are available?Currently, there is no specific treatment for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 should receive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ function.
When and where can I get tested?Testing is recommended based on specific criteria which can be discussed with your medical team. Please contact us with any questions or if you feel your child needs to be tested.
Latest News About the COVID-19 Vaccines
Updated as of May 12, 2021
- Individuals ages 12 and older are currently eligible for the Pfizer vaccine in Georgia.
- The Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine formulation currently authorized for adolescents ages 12 to 17 years old.
- Children undergoing active cancer therapy or who have had a bone marrow transplant should reach out to their treatment team at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center prior to scheduling vaccination.
- You do not need a letter or documentation verifying your child’s condition. The Georgia Department of Public Health asks screening questions on vaccine registration sites to verify your child’s condition, but they are not asking individuals to provide verification letters from Children’s or other healthcare providers.
Vaccination Locations and Tools
Reminder: For individuals ages 12 through 17 years old, Pfizer is the only vaccine currently approved for these ages. The Georgia Department of Public Health recommends scheduling an appointment at CVS or Walgreens, or at one of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) mass vaccination sites where the Pfizer vaccine is available.
Children’s is working closely with local and national health agencies to protect and care for our patients, families and staff. As part of our standard infection prevention practices, we have put plans in place to identify and limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Our priority is to do no harm and protect our patients.
The Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center is working diligently to identify safe processes to see our patients when and how appropriate. Your child’s clinical team will be following recommendations and determining what method is appropriate for your child. Be aware that the following are possibilities for your child’s care:
- Telemedicine (e.g., videoconference)
- Regular in-person visit as scheduled
- Your child may need to get a COVID-19 test prior to your child’s clinic visit or hospital admission. Your child’s nurse will contact you to schedule testing if needed.
- You should arrive on time for your appointment. Schedules have been adjusted in order to avoid overcrowding and maintain social distancing in our waiting rooms and seating areas.
- You and your child should be prepared for a wellness screening, including temperature check, upon arrival.
- You should bring a mask from home if possible. A mask is required for everyone in our units at this time. If you do not have a mask, we will supply you with one upon arrival.
- You should limit visitors to one healthy adult for any clinic or outpatient visit and two healthy adults for hospital admissions.
We understand that these adjustments may affect the lives of our patients and families. Know that the safety of our patients and community is our most important concern, and we deeply appreciate your patience and understanding during this public health emergency. If you have questions or concerns about delays in clinic appointments, contact the nurse advice line at your respective campus.
Everyone can do his or her part to help prevent the spread of illness. There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus by staying home as much as possible. Although Georgia and other states have eased restrictions for the general public, you should continue to shelter in place because your child is part of a vulnerable group. Here are some other steps you can take to help protect your child and others during this COVID-19 pandemic:
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often (especially before eating and after using the bathroom) for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
- Cover your mouth with a tissue or the inside of your elbow when coughing and sneezing.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces, such as counters, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, phones and tablets, with a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Get a flu shot.
- Wear a mask.
As with other viruses, it is possible that patients receiving chemotherapy or immunosuppressive therapy, patients undergoing BMT, or patients with sickle cell disease are at higher risk and could develop a more severe infection than healthy children. The best defense against COVID-19 and all respiratory infections is to focus on hand hygiene, cover coughs and sneezes, and stay at home as much as possible. To learn more about how to protect higher-risk individuals, visit the CDC’s webpage on people at increased risk.
The Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center does not advise traveling at this time.
The decision for your child to return to school in person will be highly individualized and based on many factors, including your child’s risk and the precautions your child’s school is taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Speak with your child’s medical team to discuss your child’s individual needs for attending school.
If your child has a fever or shortness of breath, call the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center on-call number and your disease-based nurse call line at your respective campus immediately.
- Egleston Hospital: 404-785-1200
- Hughes Spalding Hospital: 404-785-9800
- Scottish Rite Hospital: 404-785-3240