How to spot common illnesses during cold and flu season
Though they have some symptoms in common, here’s how to tell the difference between COVID-19, the flu and the common cold.learn more
Where to go when your child is sick
If your child is sick or injured, it is important to know where to take them for care. Learn what can be treated at a pediatric urgent care center and a pediatrician's office.Learn More
Updated as of September 12, 2023
- The CDC approved updated COVID boosters on September 12, 2023. The updated boosters are approved for children 12 years of age and older and authorized for emergency use for children between the ages of 6 months and 11 years old. Learn more.
- COVID Vaccines and Boosters are authorized for children aged 6 months and older. Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines.
- Updated prevention recommendations by county from the CDC.
- How accurate are At-home COVID Tests For Kids?: Children’s researchers are leading the way to determine how effective rapid tests truly are for testing kids.
- Myocarditis in Kids: A Children’s-led study confirms that the risk of medical complications from a COVID-19 infection are much greater than the risks of side effects from the vaccine.
- CDC: COVID-19 Vaccine is Safe for Pregnant People
COVID-19 is a coronavirus that first began affecting people in 2019 and quickly spread worldwide.
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that commonly infect animals but can infect humans, too. They usually attack the upper respiratory tract—nose, sinuses and throat. The coronaviruses get their name from the crown-like spikes on their surface, visible under a microscope (“corona” means crown in Latin). Some types of coronaviruses cause mild, cold-like symptoms, while infections from coronaviruses like SARS or MERS can be more severe.
Scientists continue to learn more about this virus called SARS-CoV-2, a coronavirus that causes a disease known as COVID-19.
What does COVID-19 mean for kids and teens?
Most children with COVID-19 have mild symptoms or have no symptoms at all. However, some children can get severely ill from COVID-19, especially babies under 1 year old and children with underlying conditions.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Reported symptoms of COVID-19 have ranged from very mild to severe and even fatal. COVID-19 in most healthy children is mild and does not require hospital care.
Symptoms of COVID-19 can include:
- Fever that is not responsive to fever-reducing medications
- Congestion or runny nose
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- New loss of taste or smell
- Refusal of liquids with decreased urine frequency
- Crying without the ability to be consoled
- Sore throat
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle or body aches
- Behavior that is not normal for your child
Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to someone with COVID-19. In children, the most common symptoms are fever and cough.
When should my child see a doctor for COVID-19 symptoms?
Most children with COVID-19 have mild symptoms and can safely recover at home without seeking medical care. If your child has concerning symptoms, call your doctor or pediatrician to discuss next steps before going to a hospital, emergency department or urgent care.
Note: If your child has a fever or cough, we highly recommend that your child stay home until the fever and other symptoms are gone for 24 hours. Staying home while sick protects your friends, loved ones and members of your community, some of whom may be at higher risk for illness.
If your child is having difficulty breathing, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.
This content is general information and is not specific medical advice. In case of an urgent concern or emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away.
What do I do if my child is exposed to COVID-19?
If your child is exposed to someone who has COVID-19, he should follow the CDC’s quarantine and isolation guidelines. In addition, monitor your child closely for symptoms of COVID-19.
When should my child get tested for COVID-19?
The following should be considered before taking your child to get tested for COVID-19:
- Does your child have symptoms of COVID-19?
- Has your child had close contact (within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes) with someone who has confirmed COVID-19?
- Has your child’s pediatrician or school recommended that your child be tested?
As we continue to gather more information about COVID-19, some medical recommendations may change. But the basics remain: Get vaccinated—including boosters, wear a mask, stay home if you or your child is sick, wash your hands and maintain a safe distance.
It’s important that we all work together to protect ourselves and our communities from severe illness.
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and its academic partners were selected by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to help fast-track COVID-19 diagnostic testing at the onset of the pandemic. Today, our researchers continue their work in COVID-19 diagnostic test verification. Additionally, physicians from Children’s and Emory participated in a clinical trial testing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 6 months to less than 12 years.
As one of the nation’s leading pediatric research institutions, Children’s is well positioned to lead the way in this vitally important research. Every day, many of our clinicians and researchers are pushing forward with research that will lead to better understanding of and new treatments for this virus.
Testing a Pill to Treat Kids at High Risk for Severe COVID-19
Children’s and Emory are participating in a global trial testing the Pfizer oral anti-viral medication, Paxlovid, in children under age 18.