Hospital beds have been in short supply across the state. Experts said the Delta variant has a higher chance of putting children in the ICU.
The former president of the State Medical Association, Dr. Larry Bookman, is pleading with parents to get themselves and eligible kids vaccinated for COVID-19.
Bookman said what parents thought they knew about the COVID-19 virus not affecting kids no longer applies.
The even more contagious Delta variant has already led to outbreaks in places like church camps and summer camps.
"The original reports were factual, but this is a different virus. The mutations have made it so that it is more likely to infect our children," Bookman said.
Throughout the pandemic, three kids between 12 and 17 years old have died from COVID. As of Wednesday, most people that age are defenseless against the virus.
"Less than 20% of our students have been vaccinated who are eligible in this state," Bookman said. "So chances are, in a school classroom, the majority are not vaccinated."
Bookman said that statistic concerned him even more with how severe the Delta variant is in kids and young people.
"We have seen children intubated, and in that state, it's devastating," Bookman said. "Whether it's a child or an adult, to lose somebody at a young age, whether they're 5 years old or 25 years old; those people have long life ahead of them and vaccination will make the difference."
Bookman said the first line of defense for kids 12 and older is to get the vaccine, and for those under 12 is their parents to get vaccinated.
"The 5-year-old to 12-year-old doesn't have a choice at this point. So, we need to do as an adult with responsibility. We need to do everything we can to protect those children and protect them," he said.
Bookman said everyone should mask up for at least six weeks after their first dose of the vaccine. That's how long it takes for the immunity to build. He also recommended to keep even vaccinated kids masked in schools to help protect their classmates or young kids in the building.