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How to Answer Your Child's Questions about COVID-19

How to Answer Your Child's Questions about COVID-19

This is a confusing time for adults, let alone children who are trying to understand and navigate all the changes in their new world due to COVID-19. Our resident pediatrician, Dr. Payal Adhikari, @MommyPMD sat down (virtually!) with kids ranging from ages 3-years-old to 9-years-old to answer their most pressing questions related to the virus.

If you have inquisitive little ones, the below might help you explain all the questions that are coming your way (and turns out we can all learn a little something from Dr. Payal’s answers!).

Tune into Monica + Andy’s Instagram live story every Monday and Thursday at 12pm CST as Dr. Payal Adhikari will be back to answer your questions live and share her perspective on COVID-19 updates.

When is Coronavirus going to be done?

We don’t know yet! There are lots of scientists and people in the government who are working on this to figure out when this will start to get better and we can go back to our normal lives. But, right now, it’s pretty widespread. We’re taking it day by day.

When is there going to be a vaccine for it?

Vaccines take years and years to make. We’re not close, but we’re working on it! Vaccines keep us safe from diseases. This is a brand new disease that we didn’t know about a year ago. Scientists are working on it but we need to make sure it’s safe before we use it.

Who can get it?

Anybody can get it. The good news is, even if kids get it, it doesn’t seem to be too bad. It might even just feel like a little cold, but then it goes away and you feel better.

People who are a little bit older can get sick too. So, we have to be super careful to keep them safe. We don't want them to get any germs. That’s why our grandparents are probably staying home. They could get more sick if they do get it.

Why is it called Coronavirus? And what is COVID-19?

You can’t see the virus with your own eyes because it’s very very tiny, but if you look under a microscope it looks like it has a halo around it. It’s called the Coronavirus because “Corona” means halo!

A big group of scientists called the disease that you get from Coronavirus, COVID-19. The “Co” part stands for Corona, the “VI” stands for virus and the “D” stands for disease. It’s a 19, because the disease was discovered in 2019.

Why can’t we go to the playground?

If we go to the playground and someone is sick with Coronavirus and they touch the parts of the playground that you touch, you could get sick too. That’s why we don’t go to the playground right now.

Can I have playdates?

No, we cannot have playdates right now because we don’t want to spread germs to our friends and their families. For now, we’re going to stay in our homes and play with our own toys and own families.

Should kids wear face masks?

If you are sick and you have to go outside, you should probably wear a face mask. Let’s say you have a cough and you’re going to the doctor’s office, they’ll probably have you put a mask on when you go inside to keep other kids safe.

Can we go for a drive outside?

Yes! That’s a great idea! When you’re in the car and with your family, that’s a safe place. You can drive around, look at things and get some fresh air.

Is the virus going to come back in the Fall?

We don’t know yet, but it is possible. Just like sometimes colds happen more often in the winter, it might come back. The good news is, if you had it already, scientists think that you’ll be safe and won’t get it again. We’re hoping that even if it does come back, that people who have had it will have immunity.

When can we travel again?

We don't know yet. We still have to see how the virus plays out. WHen not many people are getting the virus anymore, hopefully our government will tell us it’s okay to travel.

When can we go to the store?

We have to wait until not as many people are getting sick. Right now, lots of people are getting sick. When less people are getting sick, hopefully the government will say it’s okay to go to the store and playgrounds and school!

What if you’re next to someone and they don’t know they're sick?

Some people are sick but don’t know they’re sick! If they don’t have a cough or fever, they might not know they’re sick. That’s why we’re not hanging out with our friends or at the playground because people might not know they’re sick.

How can we help people feel better?

Send them lots of love, but not in person. We can do FaceTime, or write them a card, but the best thing you can do is give them lots of virtual love.

Should we Lysol the mail?

Probably not. It’s a very low chance that the virus will get from somewhere, to the mail and then to you. The best thing you can do is wash your hands. I need everyone to do two things for me:

  1. Wash your hands a lot! Use soap and wash for 20 seconds.
  2. Try not to touch your face.

Will grocery stores close?

Probably not. People are always going to need food. We call places like grocery stores an essential business. Places like grocery stores and pharmacies will stay open because we need them to stay alive! But, we don’t want to go there too often. We want to keep a list of things and only go there once in a while to get the essentials.

If you have gloves on, do you have to wash your hands?

Yes, I still would wash your hands. If you are wearing gloves while out, when you get back home you’ll want to take them off, throw them in the garbage and then wash your hands. You’ll still want to wash your hands in case something was on your hands before you put your gloves on.

About Dr. Payal D. Adhikari, MD

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Dr. Payal is a graduate of Northwestern University (BS) and Chicago Medical School (MD). She completed her pediatric residency at Rush Children’s Hospital, is board certified in Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She resides in Chicago with her husband and two little ones and is a regular digital contributor to Monica + Andy and teaches the Monica + Andy Newborn 101 class to expecting + new moms in Chicago.

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