Doctors Concerned With Pediatric COVID-19 Hospitalizations As School Year Approaches, Delta Variant Spreads

Tuesday, July 20th 2021, 5:30 pm

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 29 pediatric hospitalizations in the state Monday.

The state health department said the pediatric hospitalization data included in the situation updates are defined as patients who have laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 and who are currently hospitalized in a pediatric inpatient bed, which includes NICU, PICU, newborn, nursery and observation beds. 

This also includes patients who have both laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 and laboratory-confirmed influenza. Regarding locations, OSDH is reporting statewide numbers at this time, but can say that since the pediatric hospitalizations are specially designated beds, they tend to be in metropolitan areas.

“Last year we didn’t typically see healthy young people coming in with COVID pneumonia needing oxygen,” Dr. Donne Tyungu, with OU Health said. “This is a different situation we’re dealing with now.”

Tyungu said they have seen young, healthy kids become hospitalized due to the Delta variant and a low vaccination rate. 

“The adolescent age group,” Tyungu said. “Because of how unvaccinated they are most likely, that hospitalization rate has remained stable and hasn’t decreased.”

Tyungu said she wants kids in school and noted the importance of kids learning in-person but said there are a lot of risks for outbreaks and transmission without mitigation strategies in place. 

However, with the passing of a Senate bill school leaders cannot require masks or vaccinations. 

“We need to get the message to parents and families that this virus is different,” Tyungu said. “People have said this variant is like COVID on steroids. The virus has mutated in such a way it can infect children much easier than the prior virus from last year.”

Tyungu said she has hope they will have more information on vaccinations for those ages five to 11 in the fall.