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What are coronavirus, SARS CoV-2, and COVID-19?

The new coronavirus causes an illness called COVID-19. This virus impacts people of all ages, however symptoms vary widely with each individual. Symptoms are also similar to those of other common illnesses.

Who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized the emergency use of three vaccines to prevent COVID-19: one for people 5 years of age and two others for people over age 18.

Information about the vaccine

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

People with COVID-19 may have mild, moderate, or severe symptoms. At this time, the focus is on individuals with respiratory illness, particularly those with one or more of the key symptoms: cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; or at least two of these symptoms:

  • fever or chills
  • cough
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • fatigue
  • muscle or body aches
  • headache
  • new loss of taste or smell
  • sore throat
  • congestion or runny nose
  • nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhea
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checklist of covid-19 symptoms

Why are there different variants of COVID-19?

Viruses constantly mutate and change. Some changes are irrelevant, while other changes make the virus weaker. However, some changes make the virus either easier to spread or potentially more disease causing. The CDC and other infectious disease specialists closely monitor the emergence of variants such as Delta and Omicron and will alert the public if a variant poses a significant risk to public health and can be easily transmitted from person to person.

Six tips for how families can manage Omicron

What is the treatment for COVID-19?

The treatment is supportive care, such as providing oxygen or breathing support if needed, and keeping patients hydrated.

What is long COVID?

Long COVID, also known as post-COVID syndrome, is the presence of one or more lingering symptoms that remain long after a child or teenager has recovered from COVID-19. Learn more about how we treat it in our Post-COVID Clinic.

What should I know about COVID-19 testing?

Science for Kids: Nasal Swab

 

COVID-19 testing
 

 

Antibody testing
 

 

Where do I go to get my child tested for COVID 19 if they have symptoms?

Call your healthcare provider to discuss your child’s symptoms and follow their guidance regarding ongoing monitoring, treatment, and testing considerations. Currently, testing needs to be approved by the Department of Public Health.

What’s it like to get a nasal swab?

If your child is scheduled for a nasal swab, this story will help them know what to expect.
My Hospital Test: Nasal Swab

What is the cash price of a COVID-19 test?

Should you wish to pay cash for a COVID-19 diagnostic test at Boston Children’s Hospital, please review the hospital charges.

COVID-19 prevention

 

 

 

I keep hearing about “quarantine” and “isolation.” What’s the difference?

Here, we answer common questions about quarantine and isolation, based on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Get answers

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illustration of woman sitting on her computer with coffee and her cat

COVID-19 complications in children: What’s behind the recent alerts?

Unpacking the recent alerts about multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, a rare post-COVID-19 complication.

Read more   Learn about MIS-C

Coronavirus | Vaccine Information

COVID-19 vaccination information for Kids & teens

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized the use of three COVID-19 vaccines in the United States:

  • The Pfizer vaccine is authorized for people 5 years of age and older.
  • The Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines are authorized for people age18 and over.
  • There is no vaccine authorized yet for children under age 5.

Kids ages 5-11 now eligible for COVID vaccine

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization for use of a new Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19 in children between the ages of 5 and 11. This is a new product with a lower dose than what is recommended for teenagers and adults.

You can schedule the vaccination through our MyChildren’s Patient Portal. If you prefer, you may call 617-919-7102 to connect with a member of our team to schedule. Phone lines are open Monday through Friday between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Learn more about vaccinating 5-11 year olds

Getting your child vaccinated

Where can my child get the vaccine?

At Boston Children’s, we’re vaccinating eligible patients against COVID-19. It is possible that there will be sites closer to home that offer the vaccine, too. You can search for vaccines near you on the vaccine.gov website.

While we are eager to be a vaccine resource, we encourage you to take advantage of any opportunity to schedule a vaccination appointment through state and local health care organizations and agencies by visiting mass.gov/vaccine.

Because every state is a little different, we encourage Boston Children’s families outside Massachusetts to get vaccinated in your home state as soon as you are eligible, instead of waiting for your child to receive their vaccine at Boston Children’s.

Where is Boston Children’s offering vaccine clinics?

Boston Children’s is offering vaccines at our Longwood campus in Boston, as well as periodically at satellite locations and the Martha Eliot Health Center.

 

 

How do I schedule my child for a vaccine?

Please register for the Boston Children’s patient portal to self-schedule an appointment or call 617-919-7102 to connect with a member of our team to schedule. Phone lines will be open Monday through Friday between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Is there transportation assistance available for COVID-19 vaccine appointments?

Yes. We will ask you if you need transportation assistance when we contact you to schedule your child’s vaccine.

If your child has MassHealth coverage or the Health Safety Net, including MassHealth Limited, Children’s Medical Security Program (CMSP) and MassHealth Family Assistance (FA), you can arrange free transportation to your child’s COVID-19 vaccine appointment by calling 800-841-2900 (TTY: 800-497-4648). For more information, visit the MassHealth website.

Boston Children’s is providing free parking for all vaccine appointments.

Frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccines

While it’s infrequent, it does happen. Learn about our post-COVID clinic, A COVID-19 vaccine may also reduce the chance of your child from spreading the COVID-19 virus to others, including younger children, who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.

Educating kids about the COVID-19 vaccine

 
Does my child actually need a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine
My child has already had COVID-19. Do they still need the vaccine?
Should my child get the COVID-19 vaccine if they are currently sick with COVID-19?
Will the vaccine affect my child’s future fertility?
Does the vaccine cause myocarditis?
Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe for children?
Are there side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine?
Should I be worried about how quickly these vaccines were created?
How many doses will my child need?
Why vaccine dosing for ages 5-11 based on age not weight?
Why are kids ages 12-15 getting the same COVID-19 vaccine dose as adults?
How much will the vaccine cost me?

You’ve had the COVID-19 vaccine. What now?

You’ve had the COVID-19 vaccine. What can you do now? Our infectious disease expert explains what you should know.

Read more

Coronavirus | Your Visit

What to Expect When You Come to Boston Children's

During the current COVID-19 pandemic our top priority remains the safety of our patients, families, and staff.

To most effectively provide care while limiting wait times, all visits are currently by appointment only, and we cannot accept walk-in visits, even for blood draws and radiology. Please contact your provider for scheduling information.

Prepare for your visit to Boston Children's

When you and your child arrive at Boston Children’s for a visit, one of our staff members will ask you a few questions, including whether you have had symptoms or been exposed to anyone with COVID-19. Your child’s clinical team will tell you in advance whether or not they should be tested for COVID-19 prior to visiting the hospital.

For the safety of all, we must ask that any visitor who has confirmed COVID-19 stay home and NOT visit Boston Children’s. Please isolate at home, per the state guidelines, and consider making your visit virtual. Until further notice, only two adult caregivers may visit or accompany a patient at one time. Read our visitor policy

Things may look a little different when you enter Boston Children’s again. We follow strict infection control recommendations, and to further reduce the risk of COVID-19, we have added some additional measures to keep our environment as safe for you and your family as possible.

 

 

 

 

Outpatient visits

Learn what changes to expect when you visit us for your scheduled outpatient appointment.

In patient room occupancy

You or your child may be asked to share a double occupancy room with another patient family during your stay. Learn how we are taking increased precautions to ensure patient, family, and staff safety and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

 

 

Masks

Please wear face coverings as you walk from your car to our facility. When you arrive, we will give you and your child hospital-grade face masks to wear inside the building. You must wear the hospital-issued mask at all times, other than when eating or drinking. Please make sure your mask covers your mouth and nose, avoid touching your face or your mask and be sure to wash your hands often.

    Social distancing

    Please practice social distancing by maintaining six feet of space between you and another person as much as possible in all common areas of the lobby, waiting room, and while registering at the front desk. After your initial screening, we recommend that only one adult accompany the patient to the site and or enter the exam area. Please reduce your time spent at the hospital by using the MyChildren’s at Boston Children’s patient portal to pre-check in and manage payments.

    Cleaning

    Our cleaning practices are incorporate recommended guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). All surfaces are being regularly cleaned and we continue to provide hand sanitizer throughout our locations.

    Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

    Is Boston Children’s Hospital continuing to provide care during the COVID-19 outbreak?
    When will all of Boston Children’s locations reopen?
    How can I prepare my child for a hospital visit?
    Will you have extended clinic hours?
    My child’s elective procedure was canceled. What should I do?
    What should I do if my child needs a refill on their prescription?
    Is the cafeteria open?
    Do you have child care options if I can’t bring my other children with me?

    Coronavirus | Visitor Policy

    Two visitors of any age will be allowed onsite with a patient. This applies to an outpatient appointment or a child who is staying overnight and has been assigned to a single room.

    If your child is staying overnight and has been assigned to a double room, only one visitor over the age of 18 will be allowed to stay overnight. Two visitors of any age are permitted to visit at the bedside during the day.

    Visitors are required to wear a mask unless there is a medical exemption or the visitor is under the age of 2. If you have any questions, please call our COVID-19 hotline at 855-281-5730 or 617-355-4200.

    If you have tested positive for COVID-19, we strongly encourage you to stay home and self-quarantine for 14 days. Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 is not permitted in the hospital and is advised to seek medical care. You can visit the hospital again when you are symptom-free.

    If you have a family member or friend at Boston Children’s and cannot visit in person, please consider other options for reaching out to let them know you care.

    • contact them via Facetime or Skype
    • send an email or card
    • call their room directly through Patient Information at 617-355-6201

    We know this may cause challenges, particularly for families with younger siblings, but we can all play a role in reducing the spread of this virus. We’re grateful for your help as we work together to safeguard all of our patients, families, and staff.

    Coronavirus | Parenting Resources

    Parenting during the coronavirus pandemic

    Insight, advice, and tips for talking about COVID-19 with your kids and helping your whole family cope during these uncertain times.

    Caring for infants and toddlers during the COVID-19 pandemic

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    illustration of babysitter handing stuffed animal to child

    Should you hire a babysitter during COVID-19? Six tips to consider

    If you're considering hiring a babysitter during COVID-19, here are some tips to guide your efforts to make sure your family stays safe.

    Read more

    School-aged children

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    illustration of parent and child sitting with mugs

    Anxiety in kids during COVID-19: What parents should know

    As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on, its effects on anxiety have become increasingly noticeable — especially in children and teens.

    Read more

    It’s okay to be scared: Talking about COVID-19 with your kids

    Get tips to help you have conversations with your kids, from the experts on the COVID-19 Resilience Team in Boston Children's Department of Psychiatry.

    Read more

    COVID-19: What we know and how to cope with an uncertain future

    The uncertainty of life during COVID-19 has got many people feeling down. Our expert, psychologist Erica Lee, offers coping skills.

    Read more

    Teens and young adults

    Testing the COVID-19 vaccines in teens: Is it safe?

    Some drug companies are starting to test COVID-19 vaccines on teens. Our experts answers questions about the safety of doing so.

    Read more

    Teens and young adults: Is it time for a 'COVID-19 talk' with your friends?

    If you're planning to get together with friends during the pandemic, use these tips to help make you feel comfortable.

    Read more

    Behind the mask: How to prevent and treat mask-related acne in children and teens

    Wearing a mask is very effective at helping prevent the spread of COVID-19, but it can also trigger a host of skin problems, including acne.

    Read more

    Helping athletes cope with the emotional rollercoaster of COVID-19

    Mental skills to help athletes cope with the emotional ups and downs of COVID-19, and possibly come out stronger.

    Read more

    Coronavirus | Community Resources

    Boston Children’s Hospital is committed to improving the health and well-being of children and families in our community. We know that the COVID-19 crisis has caused parents and caregivers to face unprecedented levels of stress in their everyday lives. Many families continue to struggle with food insecurity, are worried about paying their rent or mortgage, have concerns about sending their child to daycare, or how to work with a child learning from home.

    Food access and resources

    Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic has led to more food insecurity for families throughout Massachusetts. It also has disproportionately impacted those living in low-income areas and the Black and Latino communities.

    Boston Children’s is supporting its community partners and Boston community health centers to help families with food access, as well as with other needs around rental and utility assistance, and other basic household supplies.

    Read more

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    person in surgical mask carrying bag of groceries

    Childcare and school resources

    Boston Children’s Office of Community Health launched the Boston Childcare Support Initiative in July 2020 to support childcare providers in the communities most impacted by COVID. In total, 130 childcare providers have received grants. The grant amounts ranged from $3,500 to $10,000. These funds will be used by childcare providers to follow public health guidelines, adapt physical spaces, and cover increased costs for staff, overhead, personal protective equipment, and cleaning supplies.

    Housing resources in Massachusetts

    Financial assistance for broadband internet

    The Federal Communications Commission has launched a temporary program to help families and households struggling to afford Internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Emergency Broadband Benefit provides a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers.

    Eligible households can enroll through a participating broadband provider or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) using an online or mail in application.

    You can learn more about the benefit, including eligibility and enrollment information, by visiting fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit, or by calling 833-511-0311.

    Government updates

    Boston Children’s Hospital is committed to providing the highest quality of care under any circumstance. The COVID-19 outbreak has made it more important than ever for us to serve our communities through this unprecedented health crisis together. As the situation continues to evolve, our offices are tracking legislative and regulatory actions related to health care access, behavioral health, and community health. We also are in close contact with all of our partners including city agencies, community health centers, community-based organizations, and the Boston Public Schools to assess the needs, resources, and gaps in services so that Boston Children's can best assist and support our community as needed.

    If you have questions or concerns about evolving government policies, please reach out to the Office of Government Relations at CAN@childrens.harvard.edu and sign up for updates through the Children's Advocacy Network.

    Coronavirus | Research

    Boston Children’s remains at the forefront of research and innovation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn about our recent advances.

    Pregnant mothers who get COVID-19 vaccines are also protecting their babies
    Research co-led by Dr. Adrienne Randolph and the CDC estimates that vaccinating expectant moms reduced the chances their babies would be hospitalized with severe COVID-19 by 60 percent. Dr. Randolph explains in a Q&A.

    Joining the fight against COVID: Women scientists at Boston Children’s are leading the way
    When COVID-19 hit, these physician-scientists at Boston Children’s pivoted to studying the new coronavirus and its effects. Here, they share their paths and offer their advice on going into science.

    A respiratory model of COVID-19, made from patients’ own cells
    An engineered airway lining, made from patients’ own cells, is helping scientists understand how COVID-19 affects the respiratory tract, and can be used to test potential drugs.

    COVID-19 vaccination in 12- to 18-year-olds: What does the science say?
    Drs. Jane Newburger and Adrienne Randolph led three major studies that confirm vaccination’s protective benefits against both COVID-19 and MIS-C, which far outweigh rare side effects.
    Contact phone

    From our labs and clinics: The top 10 COVID-19 science stories of 2021
    In 2021, researchers in all corners of Boston Children’s documented the clinical and immunological effects of COVID-19 and investigated new vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics.

    Emerging protein-based COVID-19 vaccines could be game-changing
    Two separate programs at Boston Children’s have developed protein-based COVID-19 vaccines that could be cheaper and easier to store than mRNA vaccines.

    What makes the Delta variant of COVID-19 so contagious?
    A structural analysis shows that Delta’s spike protein is especially good at fusion, allowing the virus to enter people’s cells very rapidly.

    Unpacking the body’s interferon response to COVID-19
    Are interferons helpful or harmful in COVID-19? This detailed study finds that it depends which interferons, when they’re produced, and where.

    Rapid saliva test detects COVID-19 variants, at home or point of care
    A low-cost test system, designed by Dr. Rose Lee and collaborators at the Wyss Institute, can give a readout from users’ spit within about an hour. The researchers hope to see it made available commercially.

    Why do some people get severe COVID-19? The nose may know
    The body’s first encounter with SARS-CoV-2 happens in the nose and throat. Responses in this early battleground help determine who will develop severe COVID-19 and who won’t.

    Children with severe MIS-C do better with IVIG and steroids as initial therapy
    Children given the combined treatment up front had better cardiovascular outcomes, finds a large study in The New England Journal of Medicine.

    A coming wave of diabetes? The link with COVID-19
    Many patients hospitalized with COVID-19 early in the pandemic developed hyperglycemia, or abnormally high blood sugar levels.

    What drives severe lung inflammation in COVID-19?
    A new study finds that excess Notch4 protein on regulatory T-cells leads to severe lung inflammation in COVID-19.

    COVID-19 takes its toll on kids’ mental health
    Child hospitalizations for self-harm and suicide attempts stayed steady in 2020, even as hospitalizations for almost all other reasons fell by about half compared with 2017-2019.

    New findings show risk of bleeding and clotting after COVID-19
    Some patients with congenital heart disease and COVID-19 develop a tendency for blood clots or bleeding issues, even if they had minor COVID-19 symptoms.

    Sturdier spikes may explain SARS-CoV-2 variants’ faster spread
    Why do the new COVID-19 variant strains spread so quickly? Research by Dr. Bing Chen finds that a mutation carried by the U.K., South Africa, and Brazil strains strengthens the coronavirus spike, rendering the virus better able to infect us.

    Neurological involvement common in kids and teens with acute COVID-19 and MIS-C
    About 1 in 5 hospitalized patients had neurologic involvement, mainly fatigue, headache, confusion, trouble walking/crawling, and loss of taste/smell. Of these, 1 in 8 developed serious conditions such as stroke, encephalitis, and Guillain-Barre syndrome.

    If another pandemic hits, our online ‘footprints’ may help the experts
    Looking back at the early days of COVID-19, two Boston Children’s studies demonstrate the potential predictive value of tracking the public’s digital activity (and that of healthcare professionals) in guessing the enemy’s next moves.

    Is it MIS-C or severe COVID-19? An update on multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children
    Funded by the CDC, this national study led by Dr. Adrienne Randolph compared and contrasted MIS-C with severe, acute COVID-19 in more than 1,100 children. While the two conditions share some features, there are also important differences.

    How do patients with cystic fibrosis respond to COVID-19? An ‘airway in a dish’ may give answers
    Few COVID-19 cases have been noted in patients with cystic fibrosis. Are they protected, or just practicing good social distancing? This study is using an airway lining, engineered from patient-derived cells, to model the effects of SARS-CoV-2 in CF and test possible treatments.

    How does the placenta protect unborn babies from COVID-19?
    Being pregnant is a risk factor for severe COVID-19 in women who are exposed. Yet only 5% of their babies are born with the infection, and nearly all are doing very well. Dr. Elizabeth Taglauer is studying the placenta to see how it may be protecting babies.

    Capturing SARS-CoV-2’s shape-shifting spike protein
    The SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, the one our antibodies target, has two forms. New work provides a snapshot of both, with implications for COVID vaccines.

    Type III interferon in COVID-19: Protective or harmful?
    At least two clinical trials are testing type III interferon in COVID-19 to fight viral infection and limit inflammatory damage. But a new study led by Dr. Ivan Zanoni at Boston Children’s warns that if it’s given later in the illness, it could increase susceptibility to bacterial “superinfection."

    Disulfiram inhibits inflammatory gatekeeper protein: Could it be helpful in COVID-19?
    Inflammation is the alarm system by which cells first respond to potential danger. But in excess, inflammation can be deadly.

    Making an IMPACC: Examining immune responses in people hospitalized with COVID-19
    Boston Children’s Hospital will play key roles in the IMPACC study examining the body's immune response over time in patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

    How the new coronavirus gets into respiratory tissue — and may exploit one of our defenses
    What makes SARS-CoV-2 such a threat? A study suggests that it may exploit one of our main defenses against viruses to infect three specific cell types.

    Boston Children’s Hospital to lead nationwide study on COVID-19 in children
    A nationwide CDC-funded study of COVID-19 in children is asking why children are largely spared, and why a tiny handful become very ill with the virus.

    Coronavirus | Provider Resources

    Returning to Boston Children’s: Information for Providers

    While the changes brought on by COVID-19 will be with us for some time to come, one thing will never change: Our commitment to providing the highest quality care.

    Primary care clinicians—often the first point of contact for patients and families concerned about their children—are the cornerstone of that commitment. From routine wellness checks and vaccinations to uncertain and potentially complex diagnoses, patients and families look to you for guidance and expertise. Your role in this pandemic and the future of pediatric healthcare delivery is essential. We value your partnership as we work together to keep children and families healthy.

    While the road ahead is uncertain, we’re in this together. We look forward to continue working with you.

    Referring patients to Boston Children’s during the COVID-19 pandemic

    Boston Children’s continues to work closely with state and local officials to ensure the highest standard of safety for our patients, families, clinicians, and staff.

    If you believe that a patient would benefit from receiving services from Boston Children’s, then you should refer that patient.

    We are open and providing urgent, emergent, and medically necessary in-person care for patients during the COVID-19 outbreak. Depending on your patient’s needs, we may schedule a virtual visit. We have found virtual visits to be a safe and effective way to provide consultations and follow-up care that do not require providers to see patients face to face. In addition, our experts remain available for requests for second opinions. Please use standard operating procedures when referring patients to Boston Children’s. If you need more information regarding referring patients, please contact us for scheduling information.

    Please be aware that all visits at Boston Children’s are currently by appointment only. We cannot accept walk-in visits, even for blood draws or radiology. Please contact us for scheduling information.

    Testing resources

    For the latest guidance on who should get tested, and whether or not testing will be covered by your insurance, please visit mass.gov for more information.

    When does a patient require COVID-19 testing?

    The Commonwealth of Massachusetts recommends testing for anyone with COVID-19 symptoms and any individual who has had close contact a person with confirmed COVID-19 infection.

    Close contact
    Other testing resources
    Additional COVID-19 information resources

    Coronavirus | Programs & Services