NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)— Protecting kids from COVID-19 is still top of mind for top doc at Children’s Hospital New Orleans—Dr. Mark Kline.

“I don’t think we’ve seen the last of COVID-19 and I still think it is important that we do our best to protect our kids,” he said.

He went on to say, “It really is a two part issue. We have kids under 5 years old who don’t have access to vaccines and then we got the kids 5-17 who are eligible, but many of them aren’t vaccinated just yet.”

Dr. Kline says it is disappointing and alarming that only 10 percent of kids ages 5 to 11 and only 40 percent of kids ages 12 to 17 are vaccinated in Louisiana, which is far below the national average.

“We haven’t done a great job of getting vaccines even to the kids who are eligible,” he said.

Still he thinks a vaccine for kids under 5-years old is imperative.

“We see otherwise healthy 2-3 year old children who are ill enough to end up ICU and we had a few actually die,” he said.

He says it is myth to think younger kids don’t get as ill as those who are older.

“The rate of COVID infection in the 0-5 age groups was three times the rate in older kids,” Dr. Kline said.

Dr. Kline said he’d like to know what is taking the FDA so long to get the vaccines approved and he said, “I think there’s a lot of blame to spread around, but the bottom line is that this needs to happen and this needs to happen now. We need the vaccine now before we have another big surge that lands more kids in the hospital.”