Boy who became Hawaii’s first pediatric COVID-19 fatality had traveled from mainland with vaccinated parents

HONOLULU – Hawaii’s first pediatric COVID-19 death this week was a wake-up call to parents that children are not immune to the disease.

On Tuesday, the state registered its first child mortality in a boy under the age of 11 who traveled with his parents from the American mainland to Hawaii.

Health officials said the boy experienced COVID-19 symptoms within hours of arriving on the islands and was taken to a hospital, where he died. Officials said the boy had underlying health problems, but did not disclose what they were, nor his exact age, to protect the family’s privacy.

He and his parents – who both tested negative before traveling and were fully vaccinated – were visiting Hawaii from another state. The boy was not tested before traveling, which is not required by Safe Travels Hawaii rules for anyone under the age of 5.

“Although severe cases are less common in children and the symptoms may be milder, children can get COVID,” said Dr. Douglas Kwock, a pediatrician at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children. are younger, they are not immune to or protected from it. That’s the main takeaway. “

Kwock recommends that parents watch for symptoms of COVID that are similar to adults, including fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste and smell, fatigue, and weakness. Better to seek help sooner rather than later.

Parents of children with underlying conditions such as asthma, heart problems, diabetes or obesity, which put them at higher risk, also need to be extra vigilant.

Statewide, the number of coronavirus cases among children remains relatively low compared to younger adults, with 12% of cases being 17 and younger. There are more than 3,700 COVID-19 cases in the state in people 17 and under, including only those diagnosed in Hawaii, of which 33 have been hospitalized, according to the latest available data.

Kwock said he has also treated children and teens with multi-inflammatory syndrome, a post-COVID-type syndrome that can also be quite serious.

“This is another reason why we should vaccinate ourselves in our community,” Kwock said. “We are talking about a population of individuals who do not yet have access to vaccines. So the best way we as a community can protect these children is to get ourselves vaccinated. “

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