Updated: September 09, 2021 07:37 PM
Created: September 09, 2021 07:36 PM
With a return to in-person school coinciding with a COVID-19 surge fueled by the delta variant, the stakes are high for children, many who are not yet eligible for vaccinations.
Coronavirus outbreaks driven by the variant are already forcing some school closures, especially in states with low vaccination rates.
President Biden has called for schools to host at least one vaccine clinic. But in many states, schools and local health officials are not promoting vaccines or making it easy for kids to get them, fearing political fallout from parents.
This comes at a time when ICUs across the country are filling up with young COVID patients.
Dr. James Versalovic, Interim Pediatrician-in-Chief at Texas Children's Hospital, says children under five and unvaccinated teenagers seem to be the patients getting more severe acute illness requiring critical care in pediatric ICUs.
"We're seeing a stark difference between unvaccinated teenagers and vaccinated teenagers," says Versalovic.
Versalovic added: "Almost exclusively, teenagers who are hospitalized today are those who are unvaccinated, who have not taken advantage of the vaccine."
Versalovic says most pediatricians agree that in-person learning is critical and can be kept safe if proper precautions are taken.
"We don't want to be alarmists, we want to keep children out of the hospital, we want to keep them safe so that they can learn and thrive. If a child gets sick with COVID-19, it also means that child is out of school," says Veralovic.
(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)