We know you continue to have questions about COVID-19, and we are here to help. We frequently review the most updated recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), and Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH). In addition, we are pleased to offer COVID testing in our office. We know that your health and safety depends on access to reliable testing, particularly with persistent, highly contagious COVID variants in our area. Your child should receive that testing from the team that knows them best. Want to learn more? Here are our most frequently asked questions:
Yes. Your health care is our first priority. We remain open on our regular schedule, as we have been since this pandemic began. We are experiencing a significant increase in calls and requests for sick visits, and continue to do our best to accommodate everyone while balancing the need to keep everyone safe and get our patients vaccinated against COVID. We monitor our appointment times very closely and will continue to put our patients’ needs first. We know getting an appointment is your number one priority -- it’s ours too. Please continue to call us first with your questions and concerns.
Yes, now more than ever. Our office is a safe place to be. It is critical that children receive their routine vaccinations on time. Children who aren’t due for vaccines still need assessment of their physical, social, and emotional well-being. We do not recommend delaying well visits.
We respect your concerns and have added additional safeguards to keep our office safe and healthy for all. In order to screen appropriately for COVID-19 risk while still providing critical preventive pediatric care, we have made the following changes in accordance with the most up-to-date guidelines available:
- We cannot do well visits if you have any signs of illness. For this reason, all patients will be asked to complete a COVID-19 screening questionnaire before arrival in the office. We cannot accommodate walk-in patients, or siblings added on at the time of check-in. You may be asked to reschedule a well visit if you are ill upon arrival.
- All people entering our office over the age of 2 must wear a face mask at all times in our office.
- We encourage all patients to complete their check-in online through MyChart, where you can complete all necessary forms, questionnaires, and copays in a safe, secure, contactless manner.
- We have eliminated our waiting room, so all families are placed into a private exam room immediately.
- Our staff wears eye protection, face masks, and gloves for every visit.
- One wing of our office is dedicated for patients with COVID-19 symptoms. It has a separate entrance off the waiting room, and has dedicated exam equipment which is cleaned thoroughly between patients. The other wing is for well patients. All rooms are cleaned between each visit, including all high-touch areas.
- Only one doctor or nurse practitioner sees patients with COVID symptoms each shift, and they wear the following protective equipment during those visits: N95 masks, eye protection/face shields, gowns, gloves.
We know families are tired, worried, and overwhelmed. We are here to help, and these tips can too: Simple reassurance. Remind children that researchers and doctors are learning as much as they can, as quickly as they can, about the virus and are taking steps to keep everyone safe. Give them control. It's also a great time to remind your children of what they can do to help – wear a mask, get vaccinated if able, wash their hands, and take care of their bodies by getting good food, sleep, and exercise. Watch for signs of anxiety. Children may not have the words to express their worry, but you may see signs of it. They may get cranky, be more clingy, have trouble sleeping, or seem distracted. Keep the reassurance going and try to stick to your normal routines. Please call us if you see this. Monitor their media. Keep young children away from frightening images they may see on TV, social media, computers, etc. For older children, talk together about what they are hearing on the news and correct any misinformation or rumors you may hear. Be a good role model.COVID-19 doesn't discriminate and neither should we. Discrimination hurts everyone by creating fear or anger towards others. When you show empathy toward those who are ill, your children will too.
We strongly recommend that all persons eligible for COVID-19 vaccination receive both their doses as soon as possible. For our patients, that currently means all children aged 5-17 (Pfizer) and 18+ (Moderna). We currently offer Pfizer vaccines for ages 5 and up, and boosters for all patients 16+ who had their 2nd dose of either Pfizer or Moderna more than 6 months ago, or 1st dose of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) more than 2 months ago. Please call our office to book an appointment for a first, second, or booster vaccine, or visit the state website to find a location administering COVID vaccines near you. If we cannot find a time to accommodate you, please do not wait if you have another option elsewhere - we recommend you get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Don't panic, but please do call our office right away. Your child should be tested for COVID if they have COVID-compatible symptoms...even if they are vaccinated. COVID-compatible symptoms include: fever, chills, body aches, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat, congestion, runny nose, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, new headache, or loss of taste or smell. We continue to see many patients with illnesses that are not COVID, such as strep throat, influenza, or other viral illnesses. We will help you get an appointment in our office, where we will examine your child for other potential sources of infection, and run any appropriate testing (including but not limited to COVID). We will also make sure that sibling close contacts are tested at the most appropriate time. We provide testing in our office for patients of our practice, by appointment only.
If your child is determined to be a close contact of someone who is positive for COVID, they must remain in quarantine at home until 5 days after the last known date of contact with that person. [Quarantine means they should stay in one room of the house whenever possible, use one bathroom, eat away from the rest of the family, and wear a mask at all times unless sleeping. We know that’s hard in real life, especially with multiple children. We recommend this website from the CDC which helps make things more clear for families.] Testing of close contacts who do not have symptoms should not take place any sooner than 5 days after exposure, and those individuals actually stay in quarantine for an additional 2 days even when the test is negative. That’s why we test close contacts on Monday-Friday in our office, using PCR tests only. If your child is a close contact and has symptoms, the rules change and we will want to see them right away. Please call our office immediately if that’s the case.
We are able to test individuals who need testing prior to travel or sports/camp/school experiences. However, we reserve the right to limit this type of testing if we have decreased test supplies or appointments. Our first priority is always testing patients who have symptoms or were exposed. As a reminder, testing does not ensure complete safety for these types of gatherings and does not eliminate the need for taking other precautions, like masking and vaccination.
We can perform two types of COVID tests at Commonwealth Pediatrics. The first is a rapid molecular test (Abbott ID-Now, NAAT). The provider swirls a swab into the front part of both nostrils, and the results are available within 15 minutes. The second is a traditional molecular test (RT-PCR). The provider places a flexible swab inside one nostril and aims it toward the area where the nose meets the throat; it stays in for 10 seconds before removing. The swab is then sent to the hospital for testing. We usually receive results within 24 hours, though this depends on the hospital's testing volume. Both of these tests are molecular tests and are acceptable for return to school and camp situations. Please check with your airline if these are accepted for international travel. We do not run any antigen tests in our office.
It’s very important that we give you the most accurate information possible when performing a COVID test. Faster isn’t always better. Based on your individual case, the provider will pick the test that is most likely to give you accurate, reliable results. Occasionally, we may not have access to rapid testing due to shipping delays from the supplier. We are making every effort possible on our end to make sure we have both types of tests available.
For the health and safety of all, it is best if you act as though your child's test is positive until proven otherwise. The team at Commonwealth Pediatrics will give you thorough instructions on how to keep you and your family as safe as possible.
Our tests only show if there is an active COVID infection at the time the swab is collected. Antibody tests can show if there is a past infection, but we do not recommend them at this time as they are not considered accurate.
We know that making decisions about returning to usual activities can be challenging and are here to help. In a spirit of transparency, the guidelines below are the most up-to-date regarding how to deal with positive and negative results. (Please keep in mind these may be subject to change as we continue to learn more about COVID.) Please click the scenario below that best fits your child’s situation.
Everyone living in your household will be considered a close contact and will need to be tested, including vaccinated family members. Please visit www.mass.gov/gettested to locate testing for family members who are not our patients. Your child must remain in quarantine at home until ALL the following conditions are met: 24 hours with no medicines like Tylenol or Motrin and no fever (<100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) AND all symptoms are improving AND 10 days since symptoms first appeared.
Everyone living in your household will be considered a close contact and will need to be tested, including vaccinated family members. Please visit www.mass.gov/gettested to locate testing for family members who are not our patients. Your child must remain in quarantine at home until ALL the following conditions are met: at least 10 days have passed since their COVID-19 test was collected AND no symptoms have developed at any time. If your child develops symptoms at any point, they WILL need to be retested.
Your child may return to all usual activities once they have been fever free for more than 24 hours without the use of Tylenol or Motrin AND their symptoms are improving.
This one is tricky...
- Did your child have any COVID-like symptoms, even mild? If so, they must remain in quarantine at home until 14 days have passed from their last known exposure to someone with COVID-19, even though their test was negative. If your child develops symptoms at any point, they WILL need to be retested. We know this is challenging to hear. These guidelines are in place for good reasons that we are happy to discuss with you further.
- Did your child have no symptoms at all? If so, as long as they were tested no sooner than 5 days after their exposure, they must remain in quarantine at home for a total of 7 days from their last known exposure to someone with COVID-19. They have to monitor for any symptoms and check their temperature every day from days 8-14, and WILL need to be retested if any symptoms develop in that time frame.