Keeping Children Safe During COVID-19 and Beyond

A pediatric pharmacist weighs in on precautions and actions to take to keep kids healthy during the pandemic and into flu season.

TTUHSC Pediatric Pharmacy

Pediatric pharmacists are taking the same precautions they would take for adult patients. These include wearing masks and/or eye shields, washing hands often and using social distancing.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we’ve been highlighting the numerous ways that healthcare workers are stepping up to do their part in meeting this crisis. The physical and mental health of the communities they serve continues to be the priority as scientists continue to learn more about the virus and officials proceed with best practices for safely opening up businesses and institutions.

As more and more states open up, headlines are revealing an uptick in COVID-19 cases among younger ages. We spoke with Chephra McKee, Pharm.D., about her role as a Pediatric Pharmacist facing COVID-19, how she specializes her work for younger patients and what ramifications the pandemic will have in the future. McKee is an Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice in the Pediatrics Division at TTUHSC Jerry H. Hodge School of Pharmacy at the Abilene campus.

 

Pediatric Precautions During COVID-19

Pediatric pharmacists are taking the same precautions they would take for adult patients, McKee said. These include wearing masks and/or eye shields, washing hands often and using social distancing.

“Just because [young people] haven’t been getting it as much or as severely doesn’t mean we don’t want to take the same precautions,” McKee explained.

 

Advice for Parents and Care Providers During COVID-19

Chephra McKee

Chephra McKee, Pharm.D.

It’s perfectly natural and understandable that parents and those caring for children during the pandemic are worried. McKee recommends being familiar with symptoms of COVID-19 and calling your pediatrician when that “Mommy or Daddy gut feeling” kicks in. A list of COVID-19 symptoms is consistently updated on the CDC website.

Children’s mental health is also an important factor to keep an eye on. Talking to your kids about COVID-19 is vital, but it’s important to be honest and not give information that’s too overwhelming.

“A lot of them haven’t seen their friends since this started,” McKee said. “They tend to miss their friends and they may not know how to express that emotion because they are not to that point.”

Having discussions with your kids about what’s going on is important while giving them information that they can act on and use in a positive way.

 

Flu Shots Will be Crucial During COVID-19 and Flu Season

The COVID-19 pandemic has renewed the controversial debate of vaccinations and immunizations.

“We know they are safe,” McKee said. “We know they are effective at preventing diseases.”

She believes it’s very important for those in healthcare to listen to families’ concerns about why they would be hesitant to be vaccinated. They may have heard something from a friend or even from a news source that could be false.

McKee emphasizes that it will be very important for children to get a flu shot this year, considering the chances for additional COVID-19 waves.

Penn Medicine best explains why the flu shot is critical in 2020:

“Getting the flu vaccine every year is the best way to prevent infection with influenza, a virus that can cause many of the same symptoms as COVID-19, including fever, cough, difficulty breathing and even death. Flu vaccines are usually available in the fall each year. Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s even more important to be vaccinated against the flu to help prevent influenza, avoid a mistaken diagnosis of COVID-19 and preserve healthcare resources. There is no evidence that getting a flu vaccine increases the risk of getting COVID-19.”

 

Conclusion

The most important thing is to ask healthcare questions and discuss your concerns with your doctor and pharmacist. The pandemic has shown us that we’re connected beings, for better or worse. Our actions matter. Our choices matter. McKee and so many other healthcare workers are risking their health so children can maintain theirs.

TTUHSC at Abilene

TTUHSC Abilene

Students at TTUHSC at Abilene receive a comprehensive, practical education spanning a broad range of health issues.

Home to the School of Nursing, School of Pharmacy and Department of Public Health, TTUHSC at Abilene prepares students for a health care career through hands-on training in clinical and research settings.

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School of Pharmacy

TTUHSC

The School of Pharmacy was established in 1996 and now has campuses in Amarillo, Lubbock, Dallas and Abilene. Since its inception, the school has played a significant role in addressing the state's pharmacist shortage. Today, more than 90 percent of its graduates remain in Texas.

The school requires its students to complete more clinical training hours than any other pharmacy program in the country, making its students some of the most sought after graduates.