There has been a lot of recent reports about how the Delta variant of COVID-19 has been affecting children much more than prior COVID-19 variants. Also., with this being August and kids going back to school, there’s a big concern, are we may see even a bigger uptick in COVID-19 cases as kids get back to school.
So what do parents need to know about COVID-19 and children and what do we need to know to keep them safe?
What can we do to keep them safe and what can we do moving forward to kinda help mitigate and kinda slow down this whole pandemic spike that we’re seeing? So we know that the COVID-19 Delta variant’s causing a big surge, more transmissible, easier to catch, easier to spread. One thing we’re seeing with the COVID-19 Delta variant is an increase in hospitalizations across the board for the unvaccinated. That means adults, as well as children. This increase in recent hospitalizations is our biggest concern, especially since we’re seeing the Delta variant of COVID-19 hit children harder than previously seen with COVID-19.
Fortunately, the majority of children are getting sick but not ending up in the hospital from COVID-19. Pediatric deaths compared to adult deaths have been much lower, however, I think that’s our concern now is that we’re seeing pediatric hospitals start to fill up across the country. Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida have all seen their hospitalization rates for pediatric cases skyrocket over the past month, even when compared to last December and January when we had our previous spike. in COVID-19 cases.
We are seeing the same increase in pediatric hospitalizations in the Southwest ( California, Nevada, Arizona).
Even though the Southwest U.S. is not at pandemic heights for pediatric hospitalizations, there’s still been a pretty significant increase in hospitalizations over the last four weeks. That sudden surge in pediatric hospitalizations becomes a real concern for all of us in the healthcare field, as we try to figure out how to handle this influx of younger and sicker patients.
BACK TO SCHOOL WITH COVID-19
Now we have children who are going back to school in areas of low vaccination rates and fights over mandatory masking policies in the schools. And that is a potential setup for even further spread of COVID-19. Now just a little bit of background, how serious is COVID-19 for kids? The fatality rate in children from COVID-19 is very low, about one out of 100,000 children infected with COVID-19. But with over two million children that have had COVID-19, there are still kids that are dying from COVID-19.
So it’s not something that’s an unsubstantial number. And obviously, if it’s your child or someone that you know from the neighborhood or from the school that dies from COVID-19, that really becomes more of a reality than just a number.
INCREASE IN OTHER CHILDHOOD RESPIRATORY ILLNESSES
The other issue that we’re seeing right now in August is that there’s also an increase in other pediatric respiratory viruses, specifically RSV and parainfluenza. And we usually see these in November, December, January. This isn’t, these aren’t infections that we typically see in the summer. So we also have an influx of younger kids, because influenza and, excuse me, parainfluenza and RSV usually hit kids, infants, newborns, toddlers, so the kids under two, and now we also have this surge with the COVID-19, which is hitting kids about six, seven, eight, nine, and older as well. And that combination is really overwhelming to not only the emergency departments but pediatric floors and pediatric hospitals that specialize in.
MULTI-INFLAMMATORY SYNDROME IN CHILDREN (MIS-C)
The other issue with COVID-19 is that we’re seeing a new syndrome called MIS-C, which is multi-inflammatory syndrome in children. There’s also an MIS-A, which is multi-inflammatory syndrome in adults. We’re really concerned about this MIS-C because it turns out it’s more of a long-term syndrome that some kids who have been infected with COVID-19 then develop MIS-C later on.
MIS-C results in an inflammatory response of either the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, liver, GI tract, and it can develop into a chronic and debilitating disease.
There have been about 4,000 cases recorded in the U.S. and that’s up until about the beginning of June and we expect to see more cases of MIS-C with the increase in new COVID-19 cases.
WHAT CAN PARENTS DO TO PROTECT THEIR CHILDREN FROM COVID-19?
. So as a parent, what can you do? Kids under 12, at least currently, can’t get the vaccine for COVID-19. Therefore, its important to make sure that you vaccinate everyone in your household who’s 12 and over and that can qualify for the vaccine
We talk about herd immunity from a societal standpoint. We also need to look at herd immunity in households as well too. How many other people in your household can get that vaccine, and prevent the spread of COVID-19, so that children under 12 don’t get it as well too?
SHOULD SCHOOLS HAVE MANDATORY MASKING FOR COVID-19 PREVENTION?
There is enough research that shows that mandatory masking in schools works. . The ABC Science Collaborative Study by Duke University looked at 100 school systems in North Carolina, looking from March to June of this year on how effective mitigation plans as far as masking and improving classroom ventilation to prevent the spread of COVID. The classrooms with mandatory masking had much fewer cases of COVID-19 than the classrooms or the school systems that didn’t have mandatory masking.
Another important point, if you’re a parent and you send your child off to school and another child in the class is found to have COVID-19, your child will mostly have to quarantine and stay home, With everyone trying to return to the office and return to work in-person, that puts parents at home too. There’s a potential domino effect is that this quarantine affects the school systems as well too.
The state of Georgia also looked at ways to mitigate and decrease the spread of COVID-19 in classrooms as well This study isn’t as high-quality, just because they had a low response rate to their survey. They tried to survey all the school systems in Georgia but only had about an 11% response rate. But when they went through all the data and found out what the schools reported; the mandatory masking policy and increased ventilation in the rooms (having windows and doors open, and fans blowing through the classroom to disperse out any virus that was in the rooms). These steps seemed to really help decrease the number of COVID cases that were reported in those school systems compared to the overall Georgia school system data across the state.
I think that’s the one thing that we’re missing on this as well too. Is that, your kid may not get COVID, your kid may be exposed to COVID. And if that happens, with no mask, they have to quarantine. Same thing if for school teachers as well too.
Reno, Nevada had a case where a family sent their kid with a known positive COVID test to school, and the result was that 80 students and staff members then had to quarantine FTER they were exposed to this COVID-19 positive student who wasn’t masked, So you can see the disruption, with just one case affecting 80 other people, that may have been trying to do the right thing