Children's Hospital Colorado

The Effects of COVID-19 on Children with Chronic Illnesses

During the pandemic, many providers’ primary questions for our experts are regarding children with chronic illnesses or other health conditions. Fortunately, current information suggests that most kids are unlikely to become severely ill with COVID-19. However, children with certain underlying conditions may be at higher risk, specifically those children with obesity and problems that impact the heart, lungs or ability to fight infection. Examples of conditions include:

  • Obesity
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Heart disease
  • Neurologic conditions (including muscle disorders)
  • Immunodeficiency conditions
  • Organ transplant
  • Cancer treatment
  • Treatment with medications that weaken the immune system

If your patients have any of the above conditions, below are general recommendations:

COVID-19 vaccines 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control announced emergency use authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12 and older in May 2021. This announcement marks yet another exciting milestone, as access to the vaccine continues to expand to a wider range of children in our state.  

Discuss the COVID-19 vaccine with patients and their families and encourage them to get the vaccine


We do NOT recommend your patients stop any long-term medications. Maintaining good control of underlying conditions is one of the best strategies to avoid more severe COVID-19 illness. Avoiding flares of underlying disease will also help prevent unnecessary trips to the hospital.

It's a good idea to make sure your patients' parents have refilled their children's prescriptions and have at least a two-week supply of medications on hand. 

Routine clinic visits

Alongside the AAP, we’re encouraging families to call their pediatrician to maintain vital well-child visits. Download free promotional well-child care resources for your practice.

See a list of our open locations and services.


Children’s Colorado is actively engaged with CDPHE, the Colorado Department of Education, the AAP, the Colorado Chapter of the AAP and local school districts and officials to guide and support children while they are in school during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Children’s Hospital Colorado supports public health guidance on the use of masks and face coverings in schools. Masks and face coverings are especially important for children with chronic illnesses. 

See the AAP’s school resources.

At-home preparations

Public health measures are intended to reduce person-to-person contact. Encourage your patients and their families to follow public health recommendations for those who are unvaccinated. People who have a higher risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19 should continue to follow public health recommendations even after they are vaccinated if COVID-19 is still circulating in the community.

They should have enough stock of prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, medical supplies, household items and groceries. Note that hoarding is not recommended, as it affects the supply chain and other people's ability to obtain necessary items.


If your patient receives subspecialty care at Children's Colorado and has respiratory symptoms or a fever but it is not an emergency, call their care team here to get advice. You can call us through OneCall for 24-hour specialist consultation, ED or Urgent Care transfer, referral, admission, assistance with patient transport and diagnostic dilemmas. In Denver, call 720-777-3999 and in Colorado Springs, call 719-305-3999

Patients with symptoms of COVID-19 can get tested at one of our drive-through testing sites. Patients and parents can get details on COVID-19 testing at Children's Colorado on our website. 

Most patients with COVID-19 are not sick enough to require hospitalization or an emergency department visit and can be managed at home, but we’re here when your patients need us.

Families with children who have special considerations when they get a fever (such as children with a central line or those undergoing treatment for cancer) should continue to handle fever as they would under normal circumstances.

See the AAP’s clinical guidance on COVID-19 or our COVID-19 clinical pathways and guidance