3 things to know about COVID-19, the vaccines and kids

First grader Vera Horsfield plays on the monkey bars at Lakeview Elementary School in Solon on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020.
First grader Vera Horsfield plays on the monkey bars at Lakeview Elementary School in Solon on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. Students are separated into five groups and rotate through a different recess zone each day in an effort to minimize exposure between classes at the school, which currently has full-time in-person learning. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

The past several months have been a confusing time, and we’re still learning new things about COVID-19, the virus behind the ongoing pandemic.

There are some things scientists are starting to understand, including how this virus might affect kids and teens. Here are three things we know about kids and COVID-19.

COVID-19 probably won’t make you very sick

Scientists are finding that kids and young adults usually only have mild symptoms if they’re infected by COVID-19. Oftentimes, they don’t even have any symptoms at all. That’s especially true if you don’t have any underlying health conditions, like asthma or sickle cell disease.

However, there are some children who can become severely ill from COVID-19 and may need to be hospitalized, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In rare cases, some kids infected with the virus may develop a serious medical condition called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome.

These serious illnesses don’t happen in kids often, but it’s still important to keep yourself healthy by wearing a mask and socially distancing.

You might not get sick, but you can still spread it

The virus is spread through droplets put into the air by coughing and sneezing. Because infected kids and young adults tend not to have these symptoms, scientists believe they don’t spread the virus as much.

However, there is some evidence that infected kids can still spread the virus to anyone living in their household, including siblings, parents and grandparents, according to a study from the University of Minnesota.

Because of that, it’s important that families practice good habits, including wearing a mask, washing hands often and avoiding contact with people who don’t live in your household.

The vaccine is here, but not for kids

There are two vaccines that work against COVID-19 being given to people in the United States, but neither of them can be given to anyone under the age of 16.

That’s because research that’s been done on COVID-19 vaccines hasn’t been done on young kids, because their immune systems work differently from adults. Scientists will have to repeat their studies to understand whether the shot works for those age groups.


That process can take some time, so it may be awhile before anyone under the age of 16 gets a vaccine.


Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.