Children and Omicron

Robin Schoenthaler, MD
6 min readDec 31, 2021

What’s Happening With The Kids

Yes, the glasses are mortifying. Photo by author’s parents

I’m a Boston-based cancer doctor and I’ve been writing weekly fact-based-no-blame-no-rumors-all-science-all-the-time essays about Covid-19 since March 2020.

You can read my views on why to get your cold symptoms tested here — or about how to treat a case of Covid here — or you can read about vaccines/anti-vaxxers throughout history here

Our surge continues. It’s moving from some-Omicron to half-Omicron and soon we will be virtually-all Omicron. It is, as one of my favorite doctors innocently said, “breathtakingly infectious.”

Let’s talk about the kids

The big question on every parent’s mind these days: “What’s going to happen when the kids go back to school?”

We all know there has been a lot of buzz about the increased number of pediatric cases and hospitalizations.

However, this doesn’t seem to be happening because Omicron is more dangerous. It seems to be simply due to a bigger denominator: ie. since there’s more NUMBERS of sick kids, there will be more NUMBERS of kids sick enough to need a hospital.

So let’s start out with this reassurance: We are not seeing any evidence that Omicron is more severe in kids (or adults). That doesn’t mean it isn’t disruptive. But it does mean it’s not more dangerous.

Okay, so given most kids are due to go back to school next week, what are our questions?

Will my kid get Covid?

Maybe. This is very much affected by whether your child is vaccinated and by your school’s rules. Chances of your child getting Covid go down if your school requires masking, has some kind of distancing and ventilation, is thoughtful about how the kids eat, and whether most of the kids in your school are vaccinated, well-masked, and tested regularly.

What will it be like if my child catches Covid?

Usually it shows up 2–3 days after exposure. Many children have no symptoms, some have mild cold-in-the-nose symptoms, and some have a more flu-like misery. Most children never need to go to the ER or Urgent Care — they can be managed at home.

The most common symptoms seen by…

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Robin Schoenthaler, MD

Covid-Translator. Cancer doc: ~Three decades at MGH. Writer and storyteller: Moth Grand Slam Champion. Mom. www.DrRobin.org, @robinshome, robinshome2@gmail.com