Delta COVID-19 variant and children: What parents need to know

Just as COVID-19 restrictions began easing and families were taking a deep sigh of relief, the delta variant abruptly entered the scene. With it, it’s bringing new mandates, new anxieties, and new questions.

In this Q & A, Dr. Rebecca Barros, a CHOC Primary Care Network pediatrician, helps families navigate the ever-changing pandemic to keep their children safe and healthy.

What are the risks of the delta variant to children?

Although it’s constantly changing and evolving, the risk for children contracting severe illness from the delta variant is still relatively low. However, as community transmission increases, more children will become infected. Therefore, encouraging vaccination among your community is the best defense for children against the virus.

Because of the delta variant, should families avoid going to indoor places?

Certain activities have a higher risk than others, and families should make decisions on a case-by-case basis. If I could choose, families would sit outdoors rather than indoors at restaurants; avoid large crowds indoors and spend more time outdoors with distance; and wear masks indoors and in crowds — regardless of vaccination status. Everyone wants to get on with their lives, but if families can choose an alternative to minimize risk — that is preferable.

Families can follow this process: determine your risk; minimize your risk; wear a mask; wash your hands; and minimize your time in crowds.

Should families stay away from grandparents and other vulnerable people?

The higher the level of community transmission, the higher the risk for vulnerable family members. Vaccinations offer the best protection for them. Vaccination against COVID19 has been shown to significantly decrease the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

Should precautions differ based on whether a child is vaccinated or not?

Families should practice the same precautions for all their children — whether they are eligible to be vaccinated or not. However, vaccinated adolescents have a significantly lower risk of becoming seriously ill compared to unvaccinated adolescents. 

Families with young children should practice caution but not be overly anxious. Generally, young children have a very low chance of becoming seriously ill when infected with the virus, and they generally recover quickly.

How likely is it that vaccinated parents could spread the delta variant to their children?

Data has shown that those who are vaccinated decrease their risk several folds for contracting the delta variant. The vaccine is offering significant prevention for mild illness and even better prevention for severe illness. Being a vaccinated parent can help protect your children.

What extra precautions should families take if their child is at high-risk for developing complications from COVID-19?

Families should practice the same precautions of wearing masks, washing hands and vaccinating all who are eligible. Of course, if your child is at high-risk, it makes taking those precautions even more important.

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine & kids

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