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Question: Can children get COVID-19?

[The recent rise in COVID-19 cases in children confirms that children can – and do – contract the virus. In this new Ask the Pediatrician, Sean O’Leary, MD, MPH, FAAP, explains likely reasons why more cases are being found in children, including increased testing and spikes in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in some communities. It also highlights the urgent need to take steps we know can help contain the virus so that it is safe for children and teachers to return to the classroom. ] 

Question: Can children get COVID-19?

By Sean O'Leary, MD, MPH, FAAP in Healthychildren.org


Yes. You may have heard of a recent rise in reported COVID-19 cases in children. This confirms that children are not immune to the virus. Fortunately, they tend to have milder symptoms, are less likely become severely ill and rarely need to be hospitalized with the illness. It remains unclear whether children infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, are more or less likely to spread it to others.

Why are cases COVID-19 increasing in children?

We are likely seeing more cases of COVID-19 among children because the virus has been spreading more in some communities. It may also be in part because COVID-19 testing has become more widely available. Early in the pandemic, testing was available only for people who were the sickest. Now that there is more testing, we can test anyone with symptoms, including children.

What does this mean for going back to school?

Returning to school in person needs careful steps in place to keep students and staff safe. That may mean schools cannot safely reopen in areas where the spread of the virus is spiking or elevated. Children learn best in school. This is why it's so important for all of us to work together to control the spread of the virus, so that it is safe for children and teachers to return to the classroom.


While scientists and researchers continue to study this virus and how it spreads, we must keep up with what we know helps prevent the virus from spreading: wearing cloth face coverings, physical distancing, and proper hand-washing.

If your child has been exposed to COVID-19, or you are concerned about your child's health, call your pediatrician. Pediatrician's offices are open and taking extra steps to make sure you and your children are safe when you come in and many are offering video visits to answer any questions you may have.

More Information

Sean O'Leary, MD, MPH, FAAP, is a pediatric infectious diseases expert at the University of Colorado and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society Liaison to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Within the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), he is a member of the Childhood Immunization Support Program Project Advisory Committee, the Committee on Infectious Diseases, the Section on Infectious Diseases, and the Council on School Health. Dr. O'Leary is also a Chapter Immunization Representative for the Colorado Chapter of the AAP.

Last Updated- 8/14/2020
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

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