Robin Schoenthaler, MD
7 min readJan 20, 2022


Dr Robin’s Covid-19 Updates

Kids and Omicron This Week

What to Expect If They Get Covid

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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 what we know/knew about Omicron here — or about kids and Omicron here — or you can read about vaccines/anti-vaxxers throughout history here

Since so many parents out there with little kids are living in Limbo Land and feel neglected and constantly afraid and as if there’s no right answer, so let’s talk about the kids under 12 and Covid.

Just a note: this isn’t about kids and school or kids and lunch or kids and sports — this is just about the science we know and the science we are working on.

Let us first keep in mind that a terribly small number of 5–11-year-olds in the US have been vaccinated — under 20%. This is utterly heartbreaking since it’s the unvaccinated 5–11 year-olds who mostly end up in the hospital.

The very most important thing you can do to protect your 5–11 year olds is to have them vaccinated — and all the adults around them as well.

Okay, let’s talk about what to expect if your kids get Covid.

First off, I find among all the horrifying headlines about rising rates in children, it is crucial to remember: kids almost never die of Covid. It is vanishingly rare. It is way lower than what we see with adults. It is lower than the death rates with childhood cancer or accidents.

If numbers help you, then consider that out of about 9 million kids getting Covid so far “only” about a thousand kids have died.

Now it is totally true that there is no “only” here and that every child death is an unspeakable forever tragedy and every one is seared into our hearts and brains for all of eternity. I know this. We know this.

But the reality is the chances of YOUR CHILD dying of Covid is in the teeny tiny decimal points. I hope this helps you put that particular fear to the side.

The chance of your child getting a serious illness with Covid is not zero, but it is low. t is also…



Robin Schoenthaler, MD

Covid-Translator. Cancer doc: ~Three decades at MGH. Writer and storyteller: Moth Grand Slam Champion. Mom., @robinshome,