Children’s Mercy continues to see record-breaking numbers of youth hospitalized for COVID-19 as vaccinations for those under age 18 remain low.
Since the beginning of January, the average number of children hospitalized daily for COVID hovered around 30 at Children’s Mercy. That’s more than the hospital has seen throughout the pandemic. As of Wednesday morning, staff were treating 32 children for COVID, with seven in intensive care, said Dr. Angela Myers, director of the infectious diseases division at Children’s Mercy.
The majority of the children hospitalized are unvaccinated, Myers said in an afternoon briefing. And while many have chosen not to get a vaccine, an increasing number are too young to qualify.
Vaccines are available to those ages five and up.
Doctors at Children’s Mercy have also seen an increase in recent weeks in a condition called MIS-C, which inflames parts of the body such as the lungs, heart and brain. In some cases, it can result in long-lasting symptoms or death.
“We’re seeing more MIS-C cases this time around with omicron than we were seeing with the delta variant,” Myers said.
She advised parents to remember that MIS-C can develop four to six weeks after mild or even asymptomatic COVID infection.
The best way to keep children safe is to continue masking and vaccinating those who are eligible.
Lee’s Summit, Liberty and Raytown school districts reinstated mask mandates earlier this month as omicron cases surged, despite pressure from the Missouri Attorney General to overturn pandemic protocols.
Other school districts in Belton and Odessa have turned to remote learning. The Park Hill school district canceled classes for the rest of the week, since too many of their staff have COVID.
About 55% of Missouri’s population has been vaccinated. Children under the age of 18 still account for the lowest vaccination rate. Nearly 22% of children between the ages of 5 and 14 are vaccinated.
The rates are lower in Kansas, where 52% of the population is vaccinated.
Eight children have reportedly died due to COVID in each state.