TAMPA, Fla. — Scientists are seeing more kids than ever get sick with COVID-19.
“The percentage of people who are getting the most sick are those who have had no immunity whatsoever,” said Dr. David Berger, Board-Certified Pediatrician at Wholistic Pediatrics and Family Care.
Experts say there are some simple, but important things parents can be doing to keep their kids as healthy as possible.
“Part of it is just lifestyle. Are we getting enough sleep? Are kids getting enough sleep? Very few don’t get enough sleep and we know the importance for our immune system to be getting adequate amounts of sleep,” said Berger.
What kids eat could also impact their ability to fight off COVID-19 if they get exposed.
"Viruses in the immune system go more out of control when there’s a lot of high processed sugar foods in the diet. So eating a whole food plant-based diet as much as possible which keeps inflammation down when we know that one of the big issues with COVID is the inflammation that happens, that cytokine storm, so anything that can be done in order to minimize that, that would be very helpful,” said Berger.
“Positive mental health is very important too. You know just the stress on our adrenals and the overall stress trying to keep a positive attitude for parents if the kid does get sick,” he added.
Doctors say there are some vitamin supplements kids can take to help boost their immune system.
“I strongly recommend that everybody check their vitamin D. It’s called 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D level. And there’s Zinc plasma and Zinc red blood cell levels and using supplementation to get their levels in the middle part of the reference range,” said Berger.
Doctors say vitamin C can be helpful too.
“A younger kid can easily take 500mg a few times a day, an older person 1,000mg twice a day,” said Berger.
He says making these changes can have an immediate impact.
“As soon as they start taking it their immune system is going to start getting stronger. It probably, for blood levels like the vitamin D level and the red blood cells, it probably does take a few months to get them like fully optimized and level but any in the body even if a person is taking it but not testing even though I encourage testing, it’s still doing them a good thing because of how well those nutrients are helping minimize, moderate the immune response,” said Berger.
Health officials say the vaccine will give kids the best immunity, but these extra steps can help give them an additional layer of protection especially if they’re immunocompromised or under the age of five since vaccines haven’t been approved for that age group yet.
Experts stress it’s important that families be extra careful to protect themselves and the community right now.
“The importance of not sending your kid to school if they’ve been exposed to somebody significant in the household. Unlike previous variants, we’re finding everyone in the household is getting sick. Not just one or two people and some people are spared,” said Berger.
Even if your child isn’t showing symptoms after an exposure, experts suggest getting them tested anyway.
“Asymptomatic spread in the new research is showing is several times more likely than delta. So just because you don’t have symptoms but you’ve been exposed that’s an issue,” said Berger.
“If we’re all going to get exposed we just need to be hyper-vigilant because if we’re all going to catch this, it will be great if we don’t all catch it in the same week and we have a complete overrun of our healthcare system and our service industries,” he added.