By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Children don’t always know how to express themselves, especially when they’re feeling sick. If a child is experiencing a loss of taste or smell, they may not be able to tell their parents that, Dr. Brandi Freeman said. Instead, a child may say their food tastes funny or something along those lines.
Freeman is a pediatrician. For the past eight years, she’s been at the University of Colorado as an assistant professor of pediatrics and associate vice chair for diversity, equity and inclusion.
With the rate of COVID-19 cases among children increasing, Freeman talked about some the worries parents have and the precautions they can take to protect their children against coronavirus.
One big thing parents can do is lead by example, she said. This means masking up, following social distancing guidelines and practicing good hygiene. These things work, Freeman said, and they were proven to work early on in the pandemic.
When children get COVID-19 the severity varies like it does with adults, she said. Some may experience symptoms equivalent to a common cold and cough, but others may be hospitalized.
Parents should keep an eye out for respiratory issues among their children and take the necessary steps such as testing. With school back in session, it can be hard to maintain social distancing and slowing down the spread, Freeman said, but parents can still take extra precautions.
At the moment, the COVID-19 vaccines available are the Moderna, the Pfizer and the Johnson & Johnson. Individuals 18 and older can receive the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Children 12 and older can receive the Pfizer vaccine.
Research is being conducted regarding the vaccine and children ages 5 to 11.
When people think about things that work against the virus, the vaccine is one of them, Freeman said. In her experience, a lot of patients have been excited about the vaccine.
A 12-year-old patient of hers had done research on the vaccine and encouraged their family to get it, Freeman said. In the past, the family expressed hesitancy over other vaccines, so this was a momentous moment.
When it comes to vaccine distribution, Freeman expressed dismay that the United States hasn’t reached the numbers she thought it would have. However, she noted that more people are asking questions about the vaccine.
Freeman explained that she shares her personal vaccine story with patients in the hopes to alleviate their concerns.
Still, her biggest worry remains with the virus itself. No one is sure what the long-term complications of COVID-19 are, she said.
It is one of the reasons Freeman will continue to advocate for vaccine. There are breakthrough infections, she said of individuals who have been vaccinated, but the efficacy of the vaccine prevent severe cases which can lead to hospitalization and/or death.