Children’s of Alabama sees impact of low vaccination rates, few mask requirements


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — With school back in session and some districts forgoing mask requirements, a ripple effect is reaching pediatric hospitals as Covid-19 cases among children have continued to increase since July.

Children’s of Alabama Pediatric Hospital is currently caring for 25 patients battling COVID-19. Many of the patients are under 12, faced with the hurdle of being too young to be vaccinated at this time.

“Some of the more seriously ill children do end up going to our pediatric intensive care unit and require ventilator support. As of this morning we have less than five children that are requiring that support,” said Dr. Erin Shaughnessy with Children’s of Alabama Hospital.

Health care leaders are urging the public to keep their guard up when it comes to the delta variant as it’s proven to be highly contagious for both children and adults.

“The question is, ‘Are these children than going to be at home with their parents with their other caregivers, around their grandparents and pass that infection along? Is it going to lead to the second peak of delta?'” said Dr. Sarah d. Nafziger, MD Vice President of Clinical Support Services UAB. “We just don’t know yet.”

What we do know, Nafziger says, is that masking and vaccines work: “The simple acts of masking, getting people vaccinated are really the things that make a big difference so that we can do the things we want to do.”

Alabama’s health care system is relying on the community to do its part to help curb the spread of the virus and prevent children from getting sick.

“Things like birthday parties, soccer matches and those types of things can be avenues of spreads, so we want people to be vigilant of how they are acting in those settings,” said Shaughnessy.

Health care leaders say they are also hopeful for a vaccine for those 12 and under to be approved soon. The Pfizer vaccine is waiting on FDA approval, and the company is hoping to get the green light by October.

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