Updated: Feb 10
Frances Simpson is a lecturer in Psychology and Counselling at Coventry University (SC.) She is also a sufferer of Long Covid and Co-Founder Longcovidkids.org and raises an important question
What do we know abut viruses in young children?
Frances writes, "When I had my first child, I was provided with a little red book. In this, details of my baby were recorded- weight, height, head circumference
And then at eight weeks, then 12 weeks, 16 weeks and one year, I took my daughter for her vaccinations. In case you don’t know, one of the first of these is called the 6 in 1, and it is given to provide the child with very good immunity to diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, Hib, polio and hepatitis B infections.
Alongside these, the child is also vaccinated against Meningitis B, rotavirus and pneumococcal infections and at the age of one, the MMR is also added, to inoculate against measles, mumps and rubella.
The experience I had was fairly unremarkable, my daughter screamed in shock and needed Calpol for the following day. But I was extremely grateful to the healthcare system and the many researchers and scientists who made this possible.
Without these vaccinations, children who got these diseases could suffer lifelong health conditions.
According to pre-vaccine data, mumps can cause orchitis, aseptic meningitis, oophoritis, pancreatitis, and encephalitis. Whilst long-term complications include unilateral sensorineural deafness in children.
Measles can lead to pneumonia and encephalitis in children, as well as Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) which is a very rare, but fatal disease of the central nervous system that results from a measles virus infection acquired earlier in life. This generally develops seven to ten years after a person has measles, even though the person seems to have fully recovered from the illness.
The child with polio may have been asymptomatic, but may have had paralysis or muscle weakness. They may have gone on to develop post-polio syndrome, about 15 to 40 years after the infection. The symptoms included persistent fatigue (extreme tiredness), muscle weakness, shrinking muscles, muscle and joint pain and sleep apnoea.
Why am I invoking this list of horrific symptoms of the childhood diseases of yesteryear?
My daughter has just turned ten, and her red book is at the bottom of the drawer. But having caught COVID-19 last March, she has ongoing symptoms of fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain, rashes and breathing issues. Like the many other children experiencing the effects of Covid on the many parts of her body, she has had her symptoms attributed to anything but Covid. She has had one set of bloods taken and is suspected to be suffering from anxiety.
And yet in light of the long term effects of so many other viruses, why is there so little curiosity and interest in the possible short and long term effects of this virus?
Until we know more about the insidious damage that this virus may be doing to a whole generation of children, we need to keep our children as safe as possible, which starts with an honest conversation about aerosol transmission .
We must action the changes needed in schools to really make them safe before we send them back.
We already recognise the need for safety measures in adults, why not children?
Finally, we need to consider vaccinating children as the Israelis are doing.
This extra addition to the red book may save many lives from being lost or permanently impaired."
Long Covid Kids have been campaigning to #MakeSchoolsSafe since we founded in October. We are calling for every school to have a risk assessment designed by an expert task force, including ventilation experts, and that there must be accountability to ensure implementation.
Last month we hosted a presentation from chemistry professor and aerosol expert Jose-Luis Jimenez, University Colorado Bouldar with Parents United, to learn more about aerosol transmission of COVID-19. For simple science, practical suggestions and a deeper understanding of how to reduce risk, and why we need to see changes in schools please watch 'How Safe is Your School?'.
LongCovidKids.org is a parent and patient-led advocacy and support group for parents of children with Long Covid. Our story started with a short film on long-lasting symptoms of Covid in children. We are working on The Long Covid Kids Study with PeopleWith
If your child experiences any symptoms that indicates they are unwell, it COULD be COVID-19, and you should get them a test to help identify if it is a current Covid infection. Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.