COVID-19 FAQs

Jan 25

Allegro Pediatrics

COVID-19 FAQs

by Allegro Pediatrics

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is circulating in our community. Many parents are wondering what to do if their child is exposed to COVID through a close contact, develops symptoms of COVID, or tests positive for COVID. The following information provides answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19. Please be aware that the following information is based on CDC guidelines and your child’s school or daycare may have a different isolation and quarantine policy in place to best protect their community. Reach out to your child’s school for specific information on isolation and quarantine guidelines.

My child’s friend tested positive for COVID. Is my child considered a close contact?

A close contact is defined as someone who was less than 6 feet away from a person with COVID for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. For example, if your child was within 6 feet of the infected individual for three, 5-minute periods (totaling 15 minutes) over the course of a day, they are considered a close contact and exposed to COVID.

My child needs to quarantine or isolate. How can I calculate when their quarantine or isolation can end?

The Washington State Department of Health has created an Isolation and Quarantine Calculator to help you determine when an isolation or quarantine period can end. Additionally, every school and daycare will have individual guidelines in place that will determine when your child is eligible to return to the classroom.

Isolation starts (day 0) on the first day of symptoms; if asymptomatic, then the day of the positive test.

What should I do if my child has symptoms of illness or tests positive for COVID?

If your child develops any symptoms of COVID, they should be tested as soon as possible. If your child tests positive, they should isolate for a minimum of 5 days. During this time, anyone sick or infected should stay separate from others in the home as much as possible, and masks should be worn by both the caregiver and the sick individual, if age 2 and older.

If the infected individual’s symptoms are improving after five days, they can leave the house, if necessary, wearing a well-fitting mask. The individual should continue wearing a well-fitting mask around others and avoid public places for an additional 5 days. Some schools and daycares may allow children to return between 5-10 days after testing positive if they receive a negative result from a rapid antigen test indicating they are no longer contagious. If symptoms have not improved after 5 days or if a fever is present, the infected individual should continue to isolate until all symptoms, including fever, have resolved.

Reminder: If you or your child is experiencing an increase in symptoms, please call your doctor. If a person with symptoms is struggling to breathe, please call 911.

If someone in my family has COVID, how do we prevent the rest of the household from becoming sick?

We understand that the idea of quarantine and isolation is difficult when you have children in your home. If anyone in your household tests positive, try to designate a “sick area” for the infected individual and keep children or high-risk individuals away from the infected person as much as possible.

The caretaker of the infected individual should wear a mask whenever they are near, and the infected individual should also wear a mask around their caregiver if they are age 2 and older. Other tips to prevent the spread of illness include practicing good hand hygiene, using a separate bathroom (if available), avoiding sharing personal household items, and sanitizing shared surfaces. Public Health of Seattle & King County offers helpful tips for managing COVID-19 symptoms and caring for those with COVID-19 at home.

When can my child get vaccinated after they’ve had COVID?

Your child can, and should, get vaccinated against COVID, even if they’ve already had COVID. Early research suggests that natural immunity from mild COVID infection may not be very strong or last very long. Additionally, it is not known how long after being infected with COVID-19 you may be able to get it again, and reinfection has occurred in the community. Receiving the vaccine will better protect you from contracting the virus again. Here is some information on special situations that may impact the timing of receiving a COVID vaccine:

  • If your child had a known COVID-19 exposure: Wait for the quarantine period to end before vaccinating
  • If your child is currently sick with COVID-19: Wait for illness to resolve and for the isolation period to end. There is no benefit to waiting longer.
  • If your child received monoclonal antibody: Wait 90 days after infusion to vaccinate to prevent inactivating the COVID-19 vaccine
  • If your child was diagnosed with MIS-C: Wait 90 days from hospital discharge

What is the difference between the different types of COVID tests?

It is easy to get confused about the different types of COVID tests: NAAT, PCR, and Rapid Antigen. See below for an overview of which test is best for your child’s situation. 

Please be aware that your child’s individual school or daycare may have specific guidelines that dictate when your child can return to their classroom.

Molecular NAAT:

  • Technology is similar to a PCR test
  • Timing: Results within 15 minutes
  • Pro: More sensitive so is accurate in diagnosing COVID in early stages of infection and with mild symptoms
  • Con: Can remain positive after a person is no longer contagious

When should it be used?

  • BEST USE | Symptomatic: NAAT can be used if your child has symptoms of COVID. 
  • GOOD USE | Exposure: NAAT can be used if your child has been exposed to COVID. It is best to test 5 days after exposure. Depending on your child’s vaccination status, history of past infection, and return to activity guidelines from their school or daycare, a negative test may not reduce their 10 days of quarantine.
  • NOT RECOMMENDED | Clearing from isolation after COVID infection: NAAT is so sensitive in detecting virus that it can remain positive for days to weeks after someone is no longer contagious to others.

PCR Test:

  • Timing: Results may take a few days because the sample must be sent to a lab for analysis
  • Pro: More sensitive so is accurate in diagnosing COVID in early stages of infection and with mild symptoms
  • Con: Can remain positive after a person is no longer contagious

When should it be used?

  • BEST USE | Symptomatic: A PCR test can be used if your child has symptoms of COVID. The symptomatic child should continue to stay home and isolate from others until you know the result.
  • GOOD USE | Exposure: A PCR test can be used if your child has been exposed to COVID. It is best to test 5 days after exposure. Depending on your child’s vaccination status, history of past infection, and return to activity guidelines from their school or daycare, a negative test may not reduce their 10 days of quarantine.
  • NOT RECOMMENDED | Clearing from isolation after COVID infection: A PCR test is so sensitive in detecting virus that it can remain positive for days to weeks after someone is no longer contagious to others.

Rapid Antigen Test:

  • May also be referred to as an at home test, rapid test, or over-the-counter test
  • Less sensitive than PCR or NAAT tests at detecting COVID virus
  • Timing: Results within 15-30 minutes
  • Pro: Most accurate at measuring if someone is contagious to others
  • Con: Less accurate at detecting the virus in the first few days of a COVID infection

When should it be used? 

  • BEST USE | Clearing from isolation after COVID infection: Current guidelines allow everyone to return to activity 10 days after symptoms start (or the date of the positive test if no symptoms). A negative rapid antigen test can determine if your child is no longer infectious and (depending on your school/daycare/sports return policy) may allow them to return between day 5-10 if they had mild symptoms that have improved.
  • LIMITED USE | Exposure: An antigen test can be used if your child has been exposed to COVID but is not as accurate as a PCR or NAAT test. It is best to test 5 days after exposure. 
  • LIMITED USE | Symptomatic: An antigen test can be used if your child has symptoms of COVID. A positive result means your child is infected and does not require confirmation with a PCR or NAAT test. If a rapid antigen test is negative, it is best to get a PCR or NAAT test to confirm or to retest in 1-2 days, as antigen tests have a higher rate of a false negative result.

My child tested positive for COVID-19. Can you tell me if my child has omicron or a different variant?

If your child is suspected of having COVID-19, they will receive an NAAT or a PCR test at our Bellevue clinic. NAAT/PCR tests answer if a patient has the virus that causes COVID-19 – yes or no. The results we receive do not provide us with any additional information regarding the type of variant your child may have.  

Each week, Washington State Department of Health receives COVID test samples submitted to them from around the state. The DOH performs genetic sequencing tests on these samples to see which variants are circulating in our community. Visit the Washington State Department of Health to find out which variants are circulating in our community currently.