February 9, 2022
A child hunched over in pain, reporting pain as “above 10” on a 1-10 scale. This is the October experience of a girl who had contracted COVID-19 back in August, as reported by The Guardian. Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. provided a long-sought diagnosis, long Covid.
Considered rare in children, long Covid has been reported across the country, affecting children of all ages and lasting anywhere from weeks to months. Vaccine availability and uptake (20% of 5-11 year-olds and 55% of 12-17 year-olds are fully vaccinated) have left a sizeable portion of children exposed to COVID-19 infection, particularly during the Delta and Omicron waves, and subsequent susceptibility to long Covid. A pair of European studies noted in the story look at just how common long Covid is for kids.
Some pediatric COVID centers have reported increases in referrals and patient visits, which led to expanded services and schedules to accommodate the increased load. Speculation for that increase is one-part recognition of long Covid in children and one-part variant spikes that swept up more children. Recognition and acceptance allows providers to diagnose, treat and help support those children and their families earlier.
PIDS member, Frank Bell, is quoted in the article as emphasizing the vaccine. “By being careful about your exposures … and by being immunized, and by your supporting kids in their recovery from Covid, we think we’ve got a good way to bring that small risk down to something that’s even less likely to happen and be a worry for an individual child or his or her family.” Member Alexandra Brugler Yonts is also quoted in the article and noted that her COVID program is booked out until March.