Pediatric COVID cases rise

DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) — Alabama remains at the highest level for community transmission of the virus, with thousands of cases per day, including pediatric COVID cases.

Dothan Pediatric Clinic is seeing an increase in COVID pediatric cases across all of their clinics. For the past two weeks, there were 200 positive cases every week, compared to last month when they saw less than 10 positive cases a week.

“Our staff is a bit thin at the moment,” said Dr. Jeff Tamburin, pediatrician

Pediatrician Dr. Tamburin said the highly contagious Delta variant and the high number of unvaccinated patients is leading to more COVID cases.

“We’re dealing with a patient population where a large number of them cannot be vaccinated because they are under the age of 12, and then the 12 to 18-year-old group is quite under-vaccinated in this area,” said Dr. Tamburin.

From all five pediatric clinics, the clinic receives over 1,500 calls per day regarding COVID exposures and symptoms. dr. Tamburin said the most common symptoms they see in teens are fever, headache and body aches.

“If you have a child 12 years or older, strongly consider getting the vaccine,” said Dr. Tamburin.

Last week, Alabama had hospitalized nearly 40 children with COVID and another 12 were suspected of having the virus.

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said these are the highest pediatric numbers the state has had to date.

“There are many reports that children are more severely affected,” said Dr. Harris. “It is clear that children are being infected in greater numbers. I don’t think we’re surprised about that because we have a much more contagious strain in circulation and we have older people who are relatively more protected, because they’re the ones who tend to get vaccinated.”

dr. Tamburin fears that as several school districts fail to implement universal masking, the number of cases will only increase.

“We’re seeing a big rise in COVID cases, while at the same time we’re bringing a lot of kids back to school and again, a lot of those kids aren’t getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Tamburin.

He said they are already seeing a spate of calls and cases from the district school districts that have just started back in the classroom.

“If you have a kid who goes to one of those schools that hasn’t been vaccinated, it’s best to educate them about wearing masks and keep them at bay as best you can,” said Dr. Tamburin.

Not all children qualify for the vaccine, so Dr. Tamburin said it is important to teach children to wash their hands properly, encourages them to wear masks and advises anyone who is often around the child to get vaccinated. He said that by doing so, it will create a “bubble of protection”.

State health officials highlight how Alabama has limited pediatric beds and limited pediatric ICU capacity.

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