KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Child health experts say omicron is showing the extreme ability to infect others.
And while it may be presenting with mild symptoms, they say for young kids, it could end differently.
“Everything is indicating that we are heading into, not through already, into a significant surge,” said Kristin Sohl, American Academy of Pediatrics.
Experts are preparing for the surge to not slow down.
“We are kind of bracing for this expectation over the next few weeks that it’s going to get worse,” said Dr. Angela Myers, division director of infectious diseases at Children’s Mercy Hospital.
Children’s Mercy says it's already seen the increase of positive COVID cases and hospitalizations.
Last week, Myers says it was the highest number of kid cases they’ve ever had — the largest jump in those under two years old — whether it's high fevers lasting longer or kids presenting with respiratory issues.
“Our pediatric floors in mid-Missouri are full,” Sohl said.
Myers suggests vaccination as a way to protect children.
“The best thing we can do is vaccinate everybody around that child in kind of a cocooning way so we can prevent disease in them,” Myers said.
They also say the flu should be on parents' radar. Children’s Mercy recorded more than 200 flu cases this week, 150 last week and 60 cases two weeks ago.
“It’s going to be a tricky time because we obviously want kids in school,” Sohl said. “But we are seeing so many people sick I’m not sure what that’s going to mean in the next one or two weeks.”
Both experts say now is the time to think about precautions before holiday gatherings and before kids head back to school next week.
“If your kid is into sports or basketball, wrestling, indoor sports, I would think seriously about getting your kid vaccinated so they don’t have to miss out on games or practice,” Myers said.
Myers and Sohl suggest actively monitoring community transmission, getting everyone in the family vaccinated and boosted, doing outdoor activities and wearing a mask in school.
“Even though this version of the virus appears to be causing more mild infection than previous strains, it still can cause severe infections, especially [in] those who are unvaccinated,” Myers said. “The people in the hospital are unvaccinated — whether you be a kid or adult, it doesn’t matter.”
With mask policies differing in schools, the experts encourage parents to have a conversation with their kids and explain how it’s the best way to stay protected and not miss out on school.
“Even if my child were to get infected, ‘No big deal, it's going to be mild,’ that may be true, but they are still at risk to have the inflammatory syndrome after infection,” Myers said. “So, I would urge people to think about that. There’s nothing we can do to prevent it, and it can have some long-term effects.”