Due to the fact that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is more contagious and protective measures are frequently relaxed in the community, the number of cases has increased significantly, especially in recent weeks. Stating that COVID-19, as well as influenza, has increased significantly in children as well as adults, Anadolu Medical Center Pediatrics Specialist Dr. F. Ela Tahmaz Gündoğdu, while giving important information to parents about COVID-19, also answered the most frequently asked questions.
What are the differences between influenza and COVID-19?
The current Influenza A epidemic may cause a more severe picture in children than COVID-19. High fever, runny nose and cough can be more severe, and abdominal pain is also common. On the other hand, runny nose and mild cough are common in COVID-19, and the disease may have a milder course. However, these symptoms may vary depending on the sick child and the amount of virus he has received. We recommend testing because many of the symptoms of influenza and COVID-19 are the same. The rapid antigen test for influenza gives results in 2 hours and is easy to do and low cost. For COVID-19, PCR testing gives more accurate results.
How much have the rates of COVID-19 and influenza in children increased recently?
Although both have been seen quite frequently in the last month, we can say that Influenza is more common.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19 (Delta and Omicron) in children?
Currently, 75 percent of the PCR tests performed in our hospital show Omicron, while the remainder have Delta variant. The Omicron variant has taken the lead and the symptoms of this variant are milder than Delta, usually just like a cold.
How is the treatment of COVID-19 in children? Can the drug be used?
We provide only supportive treatment for children with COVID-19. We give paracetamol for fever, herbal cough syrups for cough. We recommend keeping the nose always open, cleaning it regularly with physiological saline and taking plenty of vitamin C naturally.
What measures can be taken to prevent the disease? Should supplements be taken during the epidemic?
We recommend that children over the age of 1 take vitamin D only during the winter months. We give vitamin D in the form of drops to children under 1 year old. The dose to be given to each child is different. It is important to consult a doctor about this.
What should be considered at school and at home?
It is necessary to pay attention to the mask and distance in the school, the ventilation of the classrooms and the school. Especially since the masks will come off while eating, distance should be given importance in the cafeteria conditions. At home, the rooms should be ventilated. Items such as glasses, towels, pillows should not be shared. People with COVID-19 should be in isolation in a separate room at home.
What is your advice to parents?
I recommend that they educate their children about COVID-19, especially about prevention measures.
Who should definitely get the Covid-19 vaccine?
As defined in our country, I recommend that everyone over the age of 12 and whose vaccine has been defined in the e-pulse system should be vaccinated. Except, of course, for patients who have been prevented from being vaccinated by their doctor. If mask, distance and vaccine are applied together, we can be protected from COVID-19. Unfortunately, when one of them is missing, our chance of being protected from the disease is very low.
Is there a certain risk group that can have severe COVID-19 in children?
Again, as in adults, those with an underlying chronic disease, those with allergic bronchitis, those using immunosuppressive drugs, cancer and rheumatology patients have a high risk of severe COVID-19.
Which vaccine should be preferred in children?
Children should be vaccinated as soon as they pass the age of 12, when they are identified in the e-pulse. It is useful to get vaccinated without losing too much time in order not to get sick. Biontech should be preferred as a vaccine for children, because it is the most tried and effective vaccine in the world and applied in our country. No serious side effects in children have also been reported worldwide due to Biontech.