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Flu, cold or COVID in kids?

Viruses, allergies can have similar symptoms

AS FLU SEASON COMES AROUND, there are many concerns about how to monitor children’s health with them back in school. Not only can a common cold mock symptoms of COVID-19, but allergies and the flu can both have similarities as well. With school being in-person, it is crucial that we take the necessary precautions to keep kids safe and healthy. 

Kentucky Children’s Hospital has seen an influx of severe or critical cases of COVID-19, meaning some patients require oxygen or ventilatory support. Since July 30, there have been five times as many admissions for severe and critical infections of COVID-19 than during the entirety of the pandemic up until that point. Most of these children are 12 years old or older, and not a single child that has been admitted to this point has been immunized for COVID-19. The delta variant is much more infectious than other variants. 

Because COVID-19 shares symptoms with the common cold, flu and allergies, getting tested is the only way to rule out COVID-19. If your child tests negative but still feels sick, it is important to keep them at home so they do not infect other students or staff with whatever virus they might have. 

The most effective way to protect yourself and others is to get vaccinated. Properly wearing masks in public settings is extremely beneficial in reducing the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19. Some people worry that masks are not safe for children to wear for long periods of time, but that is not true. 

Many question whether virtual learning is safer than allowing children to return to school. If we continue health screenings and get children tested if they are feeling sick, we should be able to provide a safe and stable environment for their learning experience. 

To encourage safe in-person classes, it is important that more children ages 12-17 get vaccinated. As of October 11, just over 165,000 Kentucky children in this age group had received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. If we continue doing health screenings and increase the vaccination percentage in our total population, we can begin to get back to a normal routine.

DR. SCOTTIE DAY is physician in chief at Kentucky Children’s Hospital in Lexington.

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