More children are suffering the long-term effects of COVID-19 - what are doctors doing to fight back

ORLANDO, Fla. — Doctors are now saying adults are not the only people who can suffer from lingering COVID-19 symptoms, as more evidence shows kids can “long haulers” too.

That raises concerns, given the fact that last week in Orange County, children ages 5 to 14 made up the largest group of new cases.

Now as more children grapple with lingering side effects, hospitals across the country, including Tampa General here in Florida, are opening specialized units to care for and learn from them.

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Local pediatrician Dr. Candice Jones is among the physicians with the American Academy of Pediatrics waiting on science to guide treatment.

“I have had a patient who, a young man, who still has not had his taste and smell come back to him, and it’s very concerning for him,” Jones said. “We still don’t know all about what’s causing this; we still don’t have a surefire way of treating it.”

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For now, doctors know these symptoms can show up even in cases without symptoms. They can be from mild to severe, and they are not connected to the post-COVID-19 multi-inflammatory syndrome some children develop.

Two months ago at a forum at the University of Montana, Hudson Beard, a COVID-19 survivor and previously healthy 13-year-old, spoke to the country’s chief medical advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, about his constant pain after recovering from COVID-19.

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“I have constant migraines, severe headaches and I’m super-dizzy,” Beard said. “No other doctors can help me, can you help me?”

“We’re working very hard to figure out what this post-acute COVID syndrome is,” Fauci responded.

The National Institutes of Health, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have launched

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a massive research project to study these nagging virus effects and what they might mean in the future for kids.

“We’re going to learn more as time goes on, as well from these clinics that are learning more, and from the research on how to help our patients,” Jones added.

Dr. Jones advises that even if their child’s case was mild, to always talk to their doctor if these symptoms of “long COVID” show up.

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Jones also stressed that until answers come, prevention is the best course. Jones recommends to continue the virus safety measures we know, and that kids get the vaccine when its available.

Specialists at Advent Health told Channel 9 the COVID-19 vaccine could help people who had the virus and still have lingering symptoms. Recent reports showed a rising numbers of survivors have seen their symptoms improve after getting vaccinated.

Doctor recommend getting the shot at least three months after recovery to pick up where natural immunity wanes.