Delta ups childhood COVID rates to levels not seen since winter; parents’ concerns rising, too

Coronavirus

NEW YORK — Because of the delta variant, new cases of coronavirus in children are on the rise at a rate not seen since the last wave of the pandemic, last winter. Some parents are understandably concerned, especially as schools begin the process of reopening, but an expert on children’s illnesses, including COVID, points hopefully to ways for kids and families to stay safe.

The city is trying to provide help to families, with programs like pop-up vaccination sites at Summer Rising locations at many school campuses across the five boroughs.

One of them is at New Dorp High School in Staten Island. On Tuesday, families like Bertha Floyd’s were there.

She said that because the city would soon require vaccinations for entrance to restaurants, bars, gyms, theaters and other venues, and because her ninth-grader son needed a vaccination to participate in some school activities, she was on hand to get a shot.

She also said that she was concerned about the latest COVID-19 rates among children.

“They’re doing everything,” she said. “They’re hanging out in the park, they’re going to parties — and they’re not vaccinated.”

“It’s good if they get vaccinated,” she continued, “to prevent it from spreading all over the place.”

People under 18 now account for 15% of all cases, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. That’s a 4% jump in just the last two weeks.

Dr. Dyan Hes, the medical director of Gramercy Pediatrics, explained the increase.

“Thousands more children now are getting exposed and catching Covid than they did during the first and second waves,” she said, “because now the adults are vaccinated. Where is COVID going? It’s going to the unvaccinated, and the children — who are unvaccinated.”

She urges all children 12 years old and up to get vaccinated. Children younger than that are for now ineligible for a COVID vaccine. Still, said Dr. Hes, parents need not be too worried, especially if the parents are vaccinated.  

“For most children, 99% or more,”  Dr. Hes said, “COVID will just be like a flu-like, mild illness. So we cannot be scared by the headlines.”

Dr. Hes also recommends that children be in school.  While there, though, she supports mask-wearing, and says that some masks are better than others.

“A cloth is better than no mask. But I really think an effective mask is a surgical three-ply mask, or a KN- or N-95.”

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