Recognizing COVID-19 Symptoms in Children

Kids may be exposed to new people and germs whenever they leave home. It’s important for parents to remember that children can catch COVID-19, get sick from it, and spread it to family members.

Gregory Germain, MD, Associate Chief of Pediatrics at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital, said COVID-19 symptoms in kids may look like a bad case of the flu but may also present in children as symptoms consistent with a mild cold. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, body aches, cough, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. Kids may also experience congestion, runny nose, cough or sore throat, a loss of taste or smell, vomiting and diarrhea. If a parent suspects their child has any symptoms related to COVID-19, they should contact their pediatrician right away.

Some of the children most vulnerable to COVID-19 have underlying health conditions. Children with developmental disabilities and children under 2 who cannot wear a mask, are at risk. But so are older kids.

“Who seems to be most vulnerable is the population that can’t do the basics of COVID protection. Hand washing, mask wearing, social distancing, and who is that? Well, we’ve seen on the news, it’s our teenagers,” Dr. Germain said.

kids wearing masks at school

The best way to protect kids is for them to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they are eligible. Right now, those 12 and older can get the Pfizer vaccine.

Dr. Germain also recommends parents talk with their child about COVID-19 prevention. With kids in school, mom and dad should be talking about the importance of social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing frequently. Dr. Germain notes that Connecticut has done a good job of adhering to public health guidelines. But even if the rate of infection appears to be low, families should continue to practice COVID-19 safety. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends parents screen their children daily for COVID-19 symptoms, including a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, sore throat and a new, uncontrolled cough. For more recommendations, head to