BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Children’s hospitals throughout the state are practically mirroring what adult hospitals are seeing when battling the new Omicron variant.

On Friday, Children’s Hospital of Alabama reported treating 16 COVID-positive patients with fewer than five on ventilators. To help prevent this number from rising healthcare leaders are encouraging the public to mask up and get vaccinated.

“We are seeing a lot more kids coming in that are exposed so were testing those kids. It’s a lot more exposures and kids coming in with positive cases,” Dr. Peily Soong with Children’s of Alabama said.

Dr. Soong says a majority of his patients coming in under the age of two are experiencing croup-like symptoms.

“Toddlers have this raspy and barky cough that we’re not seeing with the other variants. We’re also seeing something called Bronchiolitis, it is a respiratory illness that causes some kids to have wheezy symptoms and raspy cough,” he said.

If your child is experiencing any of these COVID-related symptoms health care leaders encourage you to make an appointment with your family doctor and get a COVID test.

“You do not need to rush your child to the emergency room for fever, that’s a normal sign of the immune system doing its job and fighting something off. Although, having trouble getting a breath in or out through their month that’s an issue. I’m not talking about nasal congestion alone. Or if your child is not drinking and urinating once a day. Those are good reasons to head to the emergency room,” Dr. Gigi Youngblood with Children’s of Alabama said.

To help protect your child from being hospitalized doctors are encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated if they are eligible to do so.

“Parents that are hesitant and are waiting until we have more data for the COVID vaccine, we do have that data now it’s safe and effective. But know that you can still get COVID if you are vaccinated but your risk dramatically decreases of any bad outcome,” said Dr. Youngblood.

“Right now I do recommend kids wear their mask right now. COVID is so rapid out there. Also, boosters are available for all teenagers now so get your kids boosted now as well,” said Dr. Soong.

For those children ages six months to four years old not yet able to get the vaccine doctors to recommend masking if they can tolerate it and avoiding crowded places.