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(The Dallas Examiner) – Over 15 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 in the United States since the beginning of the pandemic, according to a recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the largest professional association of pediatricians in the U.S.

“As of Feb. 2, about 130,000 of these cases have been added in the past four weeks. This week over 34,000 child COVID-19 cases were reported. Over the past four months, weekly reported child cases have plateaued at an average of about 33,000 cases,” the association said in an issued statement.

Carla Garcia Carreno, M.D., is a pediatric infectious disease specialist and medical director for infection prevention and control at Children’s Medical Center Plano. She has been one of the professionals educating and treating COVID-19 in children since the beginning of the pandemic. She has overseen multiple cases and asserts that COVID-19 should still be taken seriously.

“There’s a vulnerable population and of course, even though they [children] don’t get as severely ill as older patients – let’s say those elderly, more than 65 years old – the kids do get infected,” she said. “We have seen kids that are severe enough to be admitted to the hospital. We have seen the severity not only in patients that have predisposing conditions but also in those kids that were previously healthy.”

She said vaccinations are still necessary to help prevent severe COVID infections. Vaccinations are available for all ages, including babies as young as 6 months.

In the most recent report on Feb. 1, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recorded the percentages of children from 0-17 who have received first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine across the country.

  • 2 million children ages 6 months to 4 years have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, representing 12% of that age group.
  • 11.1 million children ages 5 to 11 years old have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, representing 39% – 9.1 million children of that age group have completed the two-dose vaccination series, representing 32%.
  • 17.8 million U.S. children and adolescents ages 12-17 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine representing 68% of that age group – 15.3 million children and adolescents of that age group completed the 2-dose vaccination series representing 58%.

Carreno said more people are now comfortable getting vaccinated after initial reluctance in the beginning.

Originally, we did see a lot of hesitancy from the Hispanic and the Black community to get vaccinated. We had a big gap. Hispanics were very poorly receiving the vaccination. A lot of these had to do with the fact that they felt that the studies didn’t represent them. But these trials from our vaccines that we have available were done throughout the United States with samples from all the communities [and] all the states,” Carreno said. “But recent data shows that Asians and Hispanics now are catching up with their vaccinations.”

She encouraged families and parents to know the symptoms of possible COVID-19 and conduct regular checkups because some children are asymptomatic which means the signs of COVID-19 might not be as apparent.

“It’s very important that the parents communicate early on with their pediatricians because pediatricians are the ones that are going to know the patients better. And so, they can guide their parents on what to do,” she said.

Carreno said children with predisposing conditions like hypertension, obesity, asthma and other chronic lung diseases are more at risk and tend to get sicker if they contract COVID-19. She also emphasized the potential danger of MIS-C or multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.

“MIS-C is a rare condition associated with SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – that usually occurs 2 to 6 weeks after a child is infected with SARS-CoV-2. The child’s SARS-CoV-2 infection may be very mild or have no symptoms at all and may go unrecognized,” according to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Babies and patients have this condition [MIS-C] usually after they have recovered from COVID and sometimes even without symptoms. They can be very sick with severe inflammation, high fevers, rush, red eyes, lots of abdominal pain and vomiting, and these babies actually can have heart failure from this condition,” Carreno said.

“And this MIS-C condition; we are seeing mostly in kids that were previously healthy. So that’s why it’s really important to get vaccinated even if your child is healthy because the vaccine has proven to prevent severe disease from COVID and has also proven to prevent MIS-C.”

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