Children contracting the COVID-19 virus is “very rare” and the results are “not as severe” compared to adults and kupuna, according to a local physician.
To put some worries to rest, Dr. Casandra Simon of Malama I Ke Ola Health Center said that kids, especially those under age 10, have low rates of infection from the virus and will develop mild symptoms if they do contract the virus.
“Very proud of Hawaii and especially Maui with how we’ve done controlling this,” Simon said Thursday during a Maui County media update on the virus.
While the curve of the pandemic seems to be flattening out, she still encourages families to visit their health care provider for any questions, get their child’s physicals/checkups out of the way for school and get caught up on vaccinations.
“We want to make sure that everyone is as healthy as possible in case the virus has another round and cases go up,” she said. “The other thing you can do is to support your keiki and make sure they are doing OK mentally as well, you don’t want to scare them.”
It is still unknown whether children don’t contact the disease as often or don’t show symptoms due to a “natural immunity,” Simon said. Still, children should still learn healthy habits and to wear a mask, which might be required at school.
Though relatively unaffected by COVID-19, the virus may be related to autoimmune diseases, such as the Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, which can affect youths of all ages.
Simon said that cases of the syndrome initially were reported in Europe, New York and Los Angeles.
“If you saw this on the news, you might be starting to get really worried that your keiki might actually be in danger when first we thought that they were fairly safe from this virus,” she said. “But in reality, it’s still extremely rare.”
Simon reassured that Hawaii is safer than most places on the Mainland because local medical staff are familiar with a similar syndrome, Kawasaki Disease, and are ready with treatments. Kawasaki is 10 to 30 times more likely in Japan, South Korea, China and Taiwan.
Differentiating between the syndrome and Kawasaki includes watching the duration of the fever, age and ruling out any other potential illnesses via a blood test or nose swab for COVID-19, she said.
A person under age 21 suspected of having Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children also would be experiencing at least two of the following: “pink eye” without the puss, cracked lips or tongue, low blood pressure, rash on hands or feet, abnormal blood tests or gastrointestinal problems.
A child who develops a fever of over 100.4 degrees or feels hot for more than 24 hours should see a doctor. For those who do not feel comfortable going into an office, online services are available to speak with a doctor.
Malama I Ke Ola Health Center, whose main clinic is in Wailuku in the old Ooka Supermarket, serves homeless, poor and underserved people. The community clinic also has satellite offices in Wailuku (670A Waiale Road) and Lahaina (15 Ipu Aumakua Lane).
“You can come in, you do not have to be afraid of the doctor — all of the offices are now ready, they’re waiting, they have equipment, masks, gowns, gloves,” Simon said. “And we have the tests, so we’re fortunate in this area to actually have access to those things for our keiki as well.”
* Dakota Grossman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.