COVID-19 Updates for Child Welfare (OACAS Webinar Recap)

OACAS Update for Kids, Omicron, and more (Live webinar recap)

More than 250 people attended OACAS’ webinar with Drs. Ripudaman Singh Minhas and Natasha Collia this morning. Since the webinar was booked, so much has changed in regard to what we know about COVID and particularly the Omicron variant. They took the time to answer their Top 10 questions they’ve been asked as pediatricians. 

1. What is COVID-19? Why is it a big deal?

The virus was first identified in 2019. Coronavirus is a family name of a virus, which is broken down into groups. Viruses can spread and replicate quickly, which is only possible with humans. The majority of viruses can be spread via droplet, airborne or contact. Transmission is of COVID is mostly possible by droplet and airborne. Asymptotic people can still carry the virus and transmit it to others.

In Canada, there have been 1.9 million COVID-19 cases and over 30,000 deaths.

2. What are COVID variants (ie. Omicron)?

A variant is like as if it changed its coat. A form of evolution. Sort of like a superstar like Madonna reinventing herself. Essentially, viruses keep happening because they change subtly what they do, but vaccines are able to recognize these changes. As it changes its properties, it also changes how it acts. Different variants have different abilities to spread, as well as different types of symptoms. This means our vaccines may not be as effective down the road. To help combat this, we can decrease the number of people who are getting COVID and getting sick by washing hands, masking, and distancing.

Omicron is present in more than 90 countries across the world. It reproduces really fast. In some parts of the world, it multiples 70x faster than the Delta variant. There is not enough data to confirm the impacts are less. Regardless, the number of people getting sick is increasing.

Boosters are effective at protecting us against Omicron. There is no data for protection of children yet with boosters.

3. What does COVID look like in adults vs children?

It varies. Someone can have no symptoms to every single symptom. The ones with no symptoms are usually children. It is very similar to the common cold/flu. 

Adults: fever, child, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, body aches, repository problems, loss of taste/smell

Children: often no symptoms or mild symptoms, cough congestion, not feeling well, belly pain and vomiting, and maybe a rash

If a child has a symptom(s) or you are concerned, get tested. 

4. How do vaccines work? What is the dose? Who can get vaccinated? 

Pfzier is approved for use in children in Canada. It uses MnRA. It has no live virus and does no damage to the body. It can’t change your DNA. Your body does take the time to prepare with some minor side effects.

The vaccine works as it is showing a picture to a detective what the person looks like. If exposed, the detective is prepared and knows how to respond and battle it.

Doses in children (5-11) is a third of a dose that is in 12+ and adults. If they have a flu shot, they have to wait two weeks to vaccinated. If sick, they should also wait to get vaccinated. Eight weeks apart from each COVID dose helps improve its defence and keeps side effects down. The longer you wait, the more robust immune response is for adults — data not available for kids yet. Already, there are more than 7 million doses in children with limited concerns (unlike those in 12+ group). 

5. What are boosters?

There are no boosters for children yet. Only adults 18+.

Boosters jog the memory of immune system. It is really effective at fighting Omicron, early data suggests. Boosters only take as little as two days to take effect. 

6. Why do kids need to be vaccinated?

Pediatricians understand what kids go through affects the family unit. Zero cases in children is the goal. In addition:

  • It protects children. You risk chance of children getting an illness that is preventable. As well, children can show signs 2-3 months later of MISC and it effects all organs. 
  • Children can be carriers. We need to prevent them from being spreaders. This helps us reach heard immunity. Essentially, children are one-quarter of the population.
  • We’ve asked children to make sacrifices from social settings. As a result, mental health case have increased — and we’re not just talking about children and teenagers. Children took a step back for us while we were figuring this all out and getting vaccinated. We’ve taken away their developmental years from them. We need them back in school, connecting to their family, friends, and community.

7. What are the common side effects of vaccine?

Headache, soreness, fatigue. 

8. What is rapid testing and when should I do it?

PCR recognizes COVID in any amount of fragments, even if asymptomatic. This is “gold standard” of testing. Rapid testing detects fragments, but you need to have a certain level for tests to turn positive. This can be done at home. 

If you do a test today, all you know is right now. It doesn’t predict the future.In 20 minutes or eight hours, symptoms might start developing. If this is the case, tests should be done ASAP. The ideal is testing every day or repeated multiple times. 

9. When will vaccines be ready for other age groups?

Initial data shows that children under five don’t show successful results with vaccines.

10. How do families stay safe over the holidays?

  • Vaccinate
  • Well-fitted masks
  • Limit long term exposure in closed spaces 
  • If sick, don’t go out or host your party. If concerned, get tested. 
  • Every hour, open the windows in a home for 10 minutes
  • Avoid crowded areas, especially if more than 10 people