What the pediatricians are saying about the latest on kids and COVID

JACKSON, Ms. (WLBT) – The Delta variant is different. We’ve been hearing doctors repeat that for months. One significant difference is how it affects children.

The CDC just released a report on the matter Friday. It notes that, yes, hospitalizations and deaths are more common in adults. But children and adolescents are no exception for serious consequences.

In the past three months, the number of hospitalizations for infants to 4-year-olds has increased tenfold.

The number of pediatric hospital admissions in Mississippi has been rising since late June. A letter from the Mississippi Children’s Foundation reveals that August was the worst month yet for children hospitalized because of the virus.

“What we’re seeing is kids getting sick, they need intensive care,” says Dr. Jennifer Snow, medical director of Baptist Children’s PICU. “Especially if they have co-morbidities, if they are overweight, if they are obese, if they have asthma, if they have immunocompromising conditions, they can become seriously ill. The vast majority are still doing just fine. You know, they really do. But we’ve seen an increase in the severity of the disease that we’ve seen.”

More than 23,000 Mississippi students were quarantined last week for exposure. Nearly 4,000 of them test positive.

While masks are not required in all counties, pediatricians say universal masking is necessary. We asked pediatrician Dr. John Gaudet whether one type of mask is better than others.

“The best mask is one that the child will wear,” noted Gaudet. “And so if you can have the most wonderfully tight, well-fitting, highly filtered mask, but if it’s more of an annoyance and the kid keeps pulling it off, then it doesn’t matter how good the mask is.”

Still, both doctors say the first line of defense is the vaccine… even if you have little ones.

“If you have a child who is not eligible for the vaccine, vaccinate everyone around that child that will provide some sort of cocoon of protection for that child,” Gaudet explained.

“It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel right now,” Snow added. “And there’s still a lot of hesitation about getting that vaccine. And I cannot emphasize enough that this is our way out of this pandemic.”

Last week, Mississippi reported its sixth child death from COVID.

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