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'Don't panic.' How parents with kids too young to vaccinate can navigate omicron

Ada Tseng, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Health & Fitness

Dr. Priya Soni, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center, said omicron symptoms tend to include fevers, dry cough, sore throat, body aches and night sweats. "Those are really hard to denote in young kids though," she said. "So mostly, I'm seeing high fever and kids that have a runny nose."

-- There's more we don't know. With kids, "we're talking about a group that perhaps may not be at a higher risk, but to tell you the truth, the jury is out," said Dr. Neha Nanda, medical director of infection prevention and antimicrobial stewardship at Keck Medicine of USC.

For example, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that children with COVID-19 could be twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes after a coronavirus infection, compared to those who had not had the virus.

We also don't know whether it's associated with multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, known as MIS-C, which is "rare, but scary," Le said, because it can result in organ failure weeks after a coronavirus infection.

It's also too early for there to be data on whether omicron leads to long COVID in kids. A national survey in England found that up to 14% of kids with COVID-19 prior to omicron's emergence had continued symptoms more than 12 weeks after diagnosis.

"Those kids had impacts in fatigue, headache, insomnia, trouble concentrating, and it really, really limited their quality of life and participation in school," Soni said.

 

What hasn't changed?

All the protective measures we've taken since the beginning of the pandemic are still important now. When there is less COVID-19 in the community, there is less risk and more room for relaxation, but the surge is a good time to ramp up your masking, social distancing, hand-washing and other safety protocols, experts say.

This is true specifically for kids because if they are hanging out with other children — for example, at school or day care — there's a high probability that they're hanging out with kids who aren't vaccinated.

Which kids are most vulnerable?

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