How to protect your children from the delta variantSunday, September 19, 2021
Dr Ché Bowen
With the COVID-19 virus continuing to surge across communities worldwide, it has unfortunately got the opportunity to mutate into different variants with different risks. Among these variants, the Delta variant has proven to be one of the most dangerous, being twice as contagious as previous strains. Hospitals around the world have recorded increased infection rates of children amid these delta surges. We must be able to break down why our children are becoming sicker and consider what we can do to protect our little ones from the threat of the delta variant.
How can I tell if my child has COVID-19?
As the trend has been throughout the novel coronavirus pandemic, children, who have been infected with the virus, remain at a lower risk of getting seriously ill, particularly in comparison with unvaccinated adults. However, this does not mean that they won't get ill. With the delta variant affecting more kids than other strains, it's important to know what to look out for. Symptoms may include signs of a cold, such as a cough and nasal congestion, fever, loss of appetite or excessive fussing that can't be comforted. You may also notice a rash in some cases. COVID-19 or not, these are always signs to get your child checked out. If your child does have upper respiratory symptoms it may be a good idea to get them a COVID-19 test to be sure. If they are positive for the virus, the usual isolation would be recommended. If you or their caretaker are negative and find yourself having to take care of a COVID-19-positive child, ensure you wear a mask and regularly sanitise the space to ensure you stay protected and healthy enough to care for your ill child.
Why are children at a higher risk?
The vaccine is not approved for children under 12 and with the highly contagious delta variant, it puts them at a higher risk than vaccinated adults of catching the virus. Larger populations of children are becoming infected ,and although many may not get as sick as older patients, they may still be at risk for long-COVID-19 symptoms and severe illness.
What can I do to protect my children from COVID-19 and the Delta variant?
While several trials have begun to create an approved vaccine for those under 12 years, there is not one readily available to us right now. Fortunately, this doesn't mean you can't take crucial steps to protect your children from COVID-19 and the Delta variant!
Some steps you can take are:
•Ensure those who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and are frequently around your children are vaccinated. If your child is 12 years and older, they are eligible to take the Pfizer vaccine, and this is encouraged. Creating a safe bubble from the virus is crucial because many times our children contract illnesses from those around them. Vaccines have also been proven safe for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, so do not hesitate if you fall in this category. If you don't catch COVID-19, your children are not likely to either.
• Continue to sanitise, wash your hands, wear your mask, and social distance. It might sound repetitive at this point but this is a crucial part of protecting you and your loved ones. We must not get complacent while we're still in the pandemic. Prevention is the best method of protection for our children until they are all able to get vaccinated.
• Educate your children. While they may be young, they may not be too young to understand. If your child is old enough, explain to them the risks of COVID-19 and how they can take small personal steps to protect themselves from getting sick, such as personal hygiene practices. They may even be grateful to you for trusting them with this responsibility.
With conversations of schools reopening and parents all around the island eager to get their children back into some routine, it is clear that our children have been severely affected, socially and emotionally, by this pandemic. While we look to find ways to maintain a positive environment for our children, we need to also ensure they remain protected from this virus and its variants. If you have any concerns about your children during this time, reach out to your paediatrician to assist you with any of your questions.
Dr Ché Bowen, a digital health entrepreneur and family physician, is the CEO & founder of MDLink, a digital health company that provides telemedicine options. Check out the company's website at www.theMDLink.com. You can also contact him at email@example.com.