While children have largely been spared from severe COVID-19 illness, they can still become very sick from the SARS-CoV-2 virus – and they can have long-term physical, emotional and cognitive effects after recovery from even mild COVID-19. These complications are commonly referred to as ‘long COVID,' which occurs when a person has recovered from acute COVID-19, but still experiences physical, emotional or cognitive symptoms 30 days or more after their initial illness.
Both adults and children can have long COVID, with studies showing that between 13-35% of children experience post-COVID symptoms These symptoms can be very disruptive for some individuals and interfere with normal activity in school, work, exercise/sports or other hobbies. We are still learning about the wide array of symptoms and late effects of COVID and what causes these symptoms.
In May 2021, Children’s National Hospital launched the pediatric Post-COVID Program to provide families with access to multiple providers who are experienced in the evaluation and management of children and adolescents affected by long COVID – all at one appointment in one convenient location.
How to Become a Patient of the Pediatric Post-COVID Program
To become a patient of the pediatric Post-COVID Program, your child must be:
- 0-21 years of age
- Diagnosed with COVID-19 by a lab test (positive PCR test, positive antigen test or a positive antibody test later on)
- 30+ days beyond initial COVID diagnosis and have at least one new or ongoing symptom. Examples of symptoms may include:
- Persistent or severe fatigue
- Loss of taste and smell
- Frequent new headaches
- Muscle aches
- Joint pain
- Feelings of anxiety and/or mood changes
These are the most commonly reported symptoms, but many patients experience other symptoms as well.
Requesting an Appointment
If your child is eligible for the pediatric Post-COVID Program based on the above criteria, please email the program. In your email, please include your name, phone number and email address, as well as the child’s name and date of birth. Parents/guardians can refer their child or a referring pediatrician/care provider can refer a patient.
- Intake screening call: Once we receive your email, our team will contact your family within 7 days to do an intake screening. This screening will determine the extent and type of symptoms your child has been having. This information will be used to determine the evaluations and specialty care providers your child will see at their appointment.
- First appointment: Your child’s first appointment will be scheduled a few months after the intake screening call. During your child’s appointment, they will see physicians from Infectious Diseases, Psychology and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Additional providers may be seen as well depending on your child’s unique symptoms. This appointment will last approximately two hours and will take place in the Pain Medicine Clinic on the 4th floor of the hospital’s main campus.
Children’s National Hospital and the COVID-19 Pandemic
Children’s National Hospital led the Washington, D.C., region in preparing for COVID-19 and launched some of the country’s first initiatives to combat its impact on kids. Since then, we have worked tirelessly to care for children affected by COVID-19, and we continue to research how and why children are affected differently than adults.
At the pediatric Post-COVID Program, children will benefit from our extensive expertise:
- Between March 2020 and August 2021, we have had approximately 3,000 symptomatic children test positive for COVID at our hospital, and of those, around 600 children were admitted to the hospital.
- We have strong connections with research through our Children’s National Research Institute and the National Institutes of Health. We are involved in research or treatment of many aspects of COVID-19 in children, including long term effects of COVID, multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), clinical research trials to evaluate the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in children and more.
 buonsenso et al. preliminary evidence on long covid in children. acta pediatrica. feb 2021. 00:1-4.
Appointments with Our Pediatric Post-COVID Program
Parents/guardians can refer their child or a referring pediatrician/care provider can refer a patient to the pediatric Post-COVID Program. Please include your name, phone number and email address, as well as the child’s name and date of birth, when you request an appointment.