TAMPA, Fla. — “What’s happening here is we just have such an incredibly large number of cases that we’re starting to see an increase in serious cases in young kids,” said Dr. Jill Roberts, Associate Professor for the University of South Florida College of Public Health.
New hospital admissions for children under 18 with confirmed COVID-19 are at a record level, according to federal data.
“This is a scary indicator. We definitely don’t want to see a lot of kids get into this position where they end up hospitalized with this,” said Roberts.
The omicron variant is so contagious, doctors are seeing a much higher number of children with the virus in this surge.
Health authorities say there have been alarmingly low COVID-19 vaccination rates in children ages 5-11, and that’s also contributing to more serious cases in kids.
Right now only children ages five and older are authorized to get a vaccine.
“I do want to mention that almost all of the kids who are hospitalized are unvaccinated, so they don’t even have the primary one or two doses let alone the actual booster shot. So preventing those hospitalizations is really going to require an aggressive campaign to really get people, young kids to get vaccinated,” said Roberts.
While this is a concerning trend, health officials want parents not to worry.
“In most cases the parent who had a child who has COVID, they don’t have to be concerned about a serious case, and we want to prevent that from happening but most of them won’t be serious.,” said Roberts.
Doctors say you should look out for symptoms like:
- upset stomach
- sore throat
- breathing issues
“Where you need to worry is when kids start talking about a shortness of breath. When there’s that kind of an issue, that’s when they really need to be evaluated,” said Roberts.