Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

Student Reflections on Topics Covered in our Class

Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

COVID-19 and the Impact on Children

October 8, 2020 · No Comments · COVID19, Uncategorized

COVID19 has effected every age group in our nation, throughout the different races, cultures, and populations of the United States. Sadly, one of COVID’s most impacted population groups have been children (UNICEF Data hub, 2020), but maybe not in the way that you think. Yes- children have gotten sick with, and have even died, from COVID19 since it started spreading, but they’ve also been affected in many other indirect ways as well. The financial stress the pandemic has put on families has affected the mental and physical wellbeing of the children involved. Imagine the daily stress of not only not knowing if you are going to be evicted from your home every day due to nonpayment, or the stress of not being able to enjoy breakfast, because Mom isn’t eating so that you and your siblings can. Or similarly, you can’t enjoy breakfast because you don’t know if there is going to be a lunch or dinner that day. Children are at risk of toxic stress and many other ACEs (adverse childhood experiences), which can cause many dangerous implications for them and their mental health down the line ( Let’s think about this for a second: this pandemic from a child’s perspective. Kids living through COVID have experienced a loss of learning(temporarily, in the least), a likely increase in child or domestic abuse in the home (stemming from everyone simply being home more and stressed from the strain of the pandemic, grief, and a lack of predictability of the future (which is likely stressing adults out too). These kids are feeling isolated, irritated, and confused. And these are just the short term effects. Long term, these children will likely experience a widened education gap and an increase in child poverty even long after the crises is over (

Little girl looking longingly at an apple. (Photo obtained from

America already had a high number of food-insecure individuals, which included over 11 million children in 2018, but with the strife of the pandemic already pushing everyone to their limits, this number likely climbed ( If you and your family already struggled to put food on the table, can you imagine the stress of trying to consider how to buy food in bulk for your family to self-quarantine? Especially now that the kids are no longer getting the 2 meals a day they were getting at school five days of the week. It has been found that as many as 370 million children may miss out on nutritious school meals (  Food security during the pandemic is such a popular issue, that Feeding America has even created an interactive map to show the expected impact on food insecurity in 2020.

                Although children are expected to be able to fight the virus a bit better than those in population who are elderly or immunosuppressed, those that are experiencing food insecurity are more likely to have poorer health, and more likely to have an underlying condition, such as diabetes ( These likely preexisting conditions make fighting this contagious virus even more difficult for children who already have it rough. The public’s efforts to reduce the transmission of COVID19, while having good intentions, have disrupted the food services that many families relied heavily on.

When considering the inequitable woes that these children are facing, we also have to consider their parents’ line of work. In the best case scenario, let us assume the child’s parent did not lose their job during the pandemic (unlike thousands of Americans). If their parent(s) work in “Financial Activities”, the expected Food Insecurity Rate in 10% less than a parents’ whose job was in the hospitality industry ( See the graph below for more surprising connections found between food insecurity and the workforce industry.

Graph linking field of work to food insecurity.

Another indirect, but still pivotal way COVID19 is affecting children is reducing their access to healthcare. Also to reduce transmission of the virus, many primary care doctor offices either closed temporarily, reduced their hours, or refused to take people with COVID like symptoms (suggesting they go to their nearest Emergency Room or Testing Center instead). But this about what else this means more children: no more regular doctor check-ups or healthcare maintenance. Already almost 14 million children did not get any vaccines in 2019 (, and this number is expected to rise. About 80 million children under the age of one (in at least 68 different countries) may miss out on receiving a life-saving vaccine, thanks to COVID19 ( One of the most concerning related health threats among children is the upturn of HIV cases. The amount of new HIV cases has been decreasing over the years, and has decreased by half in the past ten years. However, scientists are expecting COVID to reverse this gain in healthcare quickly. As many as an additional 124,000 kids could possibly be infected with HIV if preventative measures are disrupted for 6 months ( Check out the graphs here for estimations on the effect of HIV disruption on novel infections among children ages 0-14.

All of this to say this pandemic has been hard on everyone, yes, but especially hard on our children. The trauma children are experiencing during this pandemic from being sick themselves, seeing friends or loved ones sick, food and shelter insecurity, dramatic changes in their routine, etc. could be having lasting adverse effects on their long term functions and all around wellbeing. If you have about an hour, watch this webinar put on by the Alliance for Health Policy on ‘The Immediate and Lasting Impacts of COVID-19 on Children’. So maybe the next time your kid is acting out or being moody, instead of responding with “Stop that!”, maybe think for a second. An appropriate response may be “What’s the matter?”.



COVID-19 and children. (2020, October 07). Retrieved October 08, 2020, from

Data hub, U. (n.d.). COVID-19 and children. Retrieved October 08, 2020, from

The Immediate and Lasting Impacts of COVID-19 on Children. (2020, August 04). Retrieved October 08, 2020, from


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