HOUSTON — Since the start of the pandemic, Texas Children’s Hospital has been treating pediatric patients for COVID-19. Recently, as the more contagious Delta variant surges across the United States, it’s causing case numbers to rise once again.
“Cases have increased steadily over the past week or so,” said Dr. Jim Versalovic, Pathologist-in-Chief and Interim Pediatrician-in-Chief at Texas Children’s.
Dr. Versalovic adds that over the past few days, hospitalizations have increased, too. Versalovic says it’s a misconception that children don’t contract the virus or become very ill from it.
“Roughly 10 percent of those who are diagnosed with COVID-19 require hospitalization," Dr. Versalovic said.
Currently, Texas Children’s has about 15 pediatric in-patients being treated for COVID-19. Versalovic says although many do have underlying conditions, which can include obesity, diabetes, and heart defects; he says healthy children are being hospitalized, too.
The increase in cases concerns Versalovic.
“It does because children under 12 are an unvaccinated population," he said. “We are concerned, because this is the most contagious variant of COVID to date.”
Studies are still being conducted on the Delta variant and its impact on health, however, Texas Children’s says they’re seeing, “the disease does not seem to be worse with the Delta variant, the danger with it is that it’s just so contagious.”
Texas schools begin in-person learning in three weeks. Versalovic suggests parents should start preparing their children now.
“To help get their children vaccinated. That is the most important part of this. Secondly, of course, safe behaviors. We need to continue to be mindful about masking and distancing, sanitizing," Dr. Versalovic said.
He also suggests parents reach out to the school and ask what steps they’re taking to keep children as safe as possible.
Children 12 and older are eligible for the vaccine now. Health officials hope that it’s available for children 5 to 11 years old by Fall and for children 6 months to 4 years old by early 2022.
“Hope is there, and help is on the way, but it’s not there yet,” Dr. Versalovic said.
It is important to know the symptoms of COVID-19, which can often mimic the common cold or flu. Testing is an important step to slowing the spread of COVID-19.
For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, text VACCINE to (713) 526-1111.