pediatric COVID-19 cases

What to Know About Kids and COVID-19 During Omicron Surge

There’s been a rapid rise across across the country in the number of children hospitalized by COVID-19.

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When Shannon Taylor tested positive for COVID-19 after a December dinner party with vaccinated friends, in addition to her own health, the single mother said her  concern immediately turned to her 5- and 10-year-old sons.

“We quarantined together," Taylor said. "It was scary because you don't know how it will affect their bodies though they're vaccinated. There are more kids getting COVID and hospitalizations, and it's scary as a parent because initially, we thought it wasn't impacting kids."

There’s been a rapid rise across the country in the number of children hospitalized by COVID-19. According to an NBC News analysis, at least nine states have reported record numbers of COVID-related pediatric hospitalizations: Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania, as well as Washington, D.C.

"Omicron is the variant spreading like wildfire," said Dr. John Bradley at Rady Children’s Hospital, where officials said more than 50 children a day are brought to the emergency room by parents, worried they're showing COVID symptoms.

“It’s still true: Kids who get COVID have much more mild disease,” Bradley said.

Since the start of the pandemic, experts have said the the virus doesn't have as much of an impact on children as it does on adults, but now we're seeing children being hospitalized across the country. Should parents be concerned?

"I want them to worry a bit because we have a few kids that end up in the hospital," Bradley said. "We test and he’s COVID-positive. We get a chest X-ray and he's got COVID pneumonia, the same characteristics we see in adolescents and adults."

Bradley said that the more severe cases of coronavirus typically are observed in older unvaccinated children, sometimes resulting in something called multisystem inflammatory syndrome or MIS-C, a condition where different body parts like the lung, heart or brain can become inflamed.

"”The MIS-C that brings kids into hospital four to six weeks after they get COVID, That's something that doesn't happen in adults,” Bradley said. “And we're getting ready for the wave of multisystem inflammatory syndrome that’s coming in the next few weeks. If you're immunized and don’t get COVID, you don’t get MIS-C"

One more reason why Taylor is thankful she vaccinated her sons and they tested negative after her bout with the virus.

“Every parent has to make that decision for themselves," Taylor said. "I’m glad I did. Hopefully that protected them."

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