At Apple Pediatrics we recommend parents follow all CDC guidelines. However, with access to so much information and misinformation it is easy to become confused. One such topic is the difference between quarantine and isolation. They are often used interchangeably, and this is not just the case. There is a difference. According to the CDC, they provide this information to help you understand the difference. This information is taken from their site (see footnote)
Quarantine vs. Isolation 
- You quarantine when you might have been exposed to the virus.
- You isolate when you have been infected with the virus, even if you don’t have symptoms.
Quarantine if you have been in close contact (within 6 feet of someone for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) with someone who has COVID-19, unless you have been fully vaccinated. People who are fully vaccinated do NOT need to quarantine after contact with someone who had COVID-19 unless they have symptoms. However, fully vaccinated people should get tested 3-5 days after their exposure, even if they don’t have symptoms and wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until their test result is negative.
What to do
- Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19.
- Watch for fever (100.4◦F), cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.
- If possible, stay away from people you live with, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19.
- After quarantine
- Watch for symptoms until 14 days after exposure.
- If you have symptoms, immediately self-isolate and contact your local public health authority or healthcare provider.
You may be able to shorten your quarantine
Your local public health authorities make the final decisions about how long quarantine should last, based on local conditions and needs. Follow the recommendations of your local public health department if you need to quarantine. Options they will consider include stopping quarantine
- After day 10 without testing
- After day 7 after receiving a negative test result (test must occur on day 5 or later)
Isolation is used to separate people infected with COVID-19 from those who are not infected.
People who are in isolation should stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others. At home, anyone sick or infected should separate from others, stay in a specific “sick room” or area, and use a separate bathroom (if available).
What to do
- Monitor your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately.
- Stay in a separate room from other household members, if possible.
- Use a separate bathroom, if possible.
- Avoid contact with other members of the household and pets.
- Don’t share personal household items, like cups, towels, and utensils.
- Wear a mask when around other people if able.
The CDC and Nemours KidsHealth provides other valuable information for parents.
COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens
Coronavirus (COVID-19): What to Do if Your Child Is Sick
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