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Kansas City-area pediatricians chat COVID-19, delta variant, back to school

Dia Wall Pediatrician Chat
Posted at 5:02 PM, Aug 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-05 15:32:16-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The surge in the COVID-19 delta variant has given parents something new to consider as students across the metro prepare to head back to school.

KSHB 41 News Anchor Dia Wall sat down for a cup of coffee and an open conversation with:

  • Dr. Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician with Pediatric Associates's Overland Park location.
  • Dr. Angela Myers, an infectious disease doctor at Children's Mercy Hospital.
  • Dr. Marion Pierson, a private practice pediatrician.

All of the women and mothers shared that they are fully vaccinated, and all of their children are eligible to be vaccinated.

Wall asked the doctors about the topic of vaccine safety.

"The message that gets missed I think with some of the emergency use, is that steps have gotten skipped or they haven't fully vetted this vaccine [because it] is too new," Burgert said. "They don't know. I try to reassure families that no steps were skipped."

Myers weighed in on why the delta variant is concerning to her and other doctors.

"The delta variant is on steroids," Myers said. "It is even more contagious than the first variant we saw back in the spring, and I think that's the reason there's so much discussion about this. The virus has mutated because we've allowed it to grow and divide, unchecked because we have low vaccination rates, because we've kind of come back together without masks. We've allowed that spread to happen and we've allowed the virus to mutate, and every time that virus mutates, it becomes more contagious. It also has the potential to become more deadly."

Each of the doctors told KSHB 41 News that they share their own family vaccination status with patients.

"I think that's the most critical piece of this is that we're all parents and we all share the truth," Pierson said. "I share with my families, I'm not going to recommend anything for your kids that I haven't or would not do for my own kids."

According to the pediatricians, most of the children who become severely ill from COVID-19 have underlying immune-compromising conditions or other health issues.

Moreover, the majority of children who contract COVID-19 are not hospitalized, but there can be effects. Burgert said some of the patients are "dropping club sports, having mental health issues and having cognitive decline after getting infected."

Myers also said there aren't just COVID-19 at Children's Mercy Hospital.

"We're having a huge influx of other respiratory viruses," Myers said. "We're seeing a ton of RSV. We're seeing a pair of influenza. We're seeing rhinovirus. We generally don't see those viruses at this time of year."

All of the doctors support universal masking in the classroom this year. Burgert even penned an open letter to the Blue Valley School District advocating as a parent in the district.