Pediatricians say despite most children only getting mild COVID-19 symptoms, kids should social distance and get a flu shot

MADISON, Wis. — Pediatricians at SSM Health are getting a lot of questions about the coronavirus. Often times, they’re also related to the flu.

Dr. Lindsay Geier, a pediatrician at SSM Health Monroe Clinic, said a lot of the things experts have been recommending to prevent COVID-19 — such as washing your hands frequently, wearing a mask, avoiding touching your face and social distancing — can also help prevent the flu.

She said parents often ask if young, healthy children still have to socially distance. She said while kids might have a less severe reaction to coronavirus, they can still get infected. So it’s still important to follow all of those preventative measures.

“We know that kids tend to do better in an outdoor environment. The transmission tends to be less in that type of setting, so if kids are getting together to socialize in any way we recommend masks, distancing, and playing outdoors as much as possible,” said Geier.

A common myth Dr. Geier hears is that children really aren’t affected by COVID-19. She said that’s simply not true.

She said children with COVID-19 do tend to have more mild symptoms, and while they’re not the big drivers of transmission, they do contribute to the spread of the virus.

Geier said preventing this transmission will get us all closer to getting children back in the classroom. She also stressed the importance of children getting a flu shot this year.

Geier said it’s important to know that the flu is not a stomach bug, but an upper respiratory infection similar to COVID-19. She said the vaccine is the main way to prevent flu transmission.

Last year there were 500,000 people hospitalized with the flu. The worry is that hospitals won’t be able to handle that on top of a surge in COVID-19 patients.