NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Nearly 900 Louisiana children currently have COVID-19.
Doctors say they’re seeing a spike in cases, especially among school-aged kids.
Overall, doctors believe kids are safe to go back to school with mitigation measures in place. While the data can be alarming, doctors with Ochsner Hospital for Children are not seeing a tremendous number of critically ill patients. However, they are seeing a nearly 20% jump in positivity rate for those 18 and younger.
At Ochsner, this year, the average age for a pediatric COVID hospitalization dropped from 16 in June to 12-years-old in July.
“Children now make up the most succeptable population because children under 12 are 100% not vaccinated,” said Dr. William “Billy” Lennarz, System Chair of Pediatrics at Ochsner Hospital for Children.
As students go back to school, doctors believe the best defense against the virus is to mask and vaccinate if eligible.
“I would be running, not walking to the closest vaccine station to begin getting my child vaccinated,” Dr. Lennarz said.
There are common mild side effects from the vaccine.
“Fever is very common in kids and sometimes this happens more so after the second dose than the first,” said Dr. Katherine Baumgarten, Medical Director of Infection Control and Prevention at Ochsner Health.”
Dr. Baumgarten said there is a lot of misinformation surrounding how the COVID vaccine impacts youth.
“There’s been no data or information that COVID-19 vaccines impact child development, puberty or fertility,” said Dr. Baumgarten.
According to health leaders, school districts that masked at all ages had low COVID impacts and quarantine rates. Doctors maintain this is the best option until more can get vaccinated.
“If we do everything we need to do, we usually see cases drop two to four weeks after we institute these measures,” said Dr. Baumgarten. “There’s a lag time and some give with that. We know right now that we’re not having a curve up, we’re having a straight line up in Louisiana. That is directly proportional to our vaccinations in the state.”