Local Doctors Say COVID-19's Delta Variant Affects Children Differently

Wednesday, August 18th 2021, 4:21 pm
By: Erica Rankin

As children get back into the swing of school, doctors have continued asking families to get their kids vaccinated if they are old enough or send their children to school wearing a mask.

This push recently came as local hospitals see an uptick in kids being admitted with COVID-19.

"Any given day, we have at least a few patients admitted to our intensive care unit because they need intensive support due to COVID," said Dr. Stephanie DeLeon, section chief of pediatric hospital medicine at Oklahoma Children's Hospital.

Local doctors have continued to sound the alarm as the Delta variant continues to spread in the state.

"We have had 13-year-olds who have been critically ill in the last week in our emergency room," said Dr. Julie Watson, the chief medical officer with Integris Health.

Health officials said it is affecting kids more than before, as babies to teenagers end up in hospital beds.

"We are definitely having more admissions in the hospital than we were certainly having even in March and February time period and certainly more than what we had in April, May and June, when our overall numbers were lower," DeLeon said.

DeLeon with Oklahoma Children's Hospital said with the Delta variant, symptoms in children present vaguer than before.

"It may look like allergies with a little runny nose or congestion," said DeLeon. "It may look like a sore throat, so not every child is going to run a fever."

Her concern has been back to school with kids under the age of 12 not able to get vaccinated coupled with a low vaccination rate in those ages 12 to 17 with only 1 in 5 having the shot.

"We are expecting we will see more positive children diagnosed in the next two to three weeks," said DeLeon.

So, she is asking for families to help as hospitals in the state are full of COVID and other childhood illnesses, making it a struggle to keep beds open 24 hours a day.

"Overall, the chances of your child needing to be hospitalized is low compared to adults, but it's still important to try to protect kids the best we can. That means going to school in masks and vaccinating those who can be," said DeLeon.