KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Doctors at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, said the number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 hit new highs in January.
Doctor Angela Myers, the hospital’s director of infectious diseases, said Children’s Mercy averaged 30 patients a day throughout January. The previous single-day high was 22 back in the late summer of 2021.
Myers said the highly contagious omicron variant is to blame.
Along with the spike, she’s noticed two major differences in the pandemic during this month: an increase in the number of patients with multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), and a broader range of children are getting infected.
“Previously, most of the kids hospitalized were teenagers, and many of which had a risk factor that was obesity,” Myers said Friday. “Now we're seeing kids and infants as young as three months in the hospital with a Covid infection. So we are seeing the broader age range expand out and then higher numbers of kids in the hospital.”
MIS-C is a condition where organs become inflamed. Myers said patients need a steady regiment of steroids and often require hospitalization to overcome the illness.
“It's a relatively uncommon complication of having Covid infection,” Myers admitted. “We've seen this uptick this past month due to the omicron surge where we really didn't with delta.”
Vaccination rates among children in the area remain below 50 percent. Data the Mid-America Regional Council collects from a nine-county region surrounding Kansas City shows 23 percent of children ages five to 11 are fully vaccinated. A total of 48 percent of children between 12 and 17 are fully vaccinated. There is no approved COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. for children under the age of five.
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