Birmingham, Ala. (WIAT) — More than one million children have been diagnosed with COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital of Association.

Roughly 11% of the total cases in the United States are children from ages 0 to 17.

Some medical experts in the Birmingham area aren’t surprised by the high number of cases; they believe there could be additional cases too.

“So, it’s probably even more than that. Which is even more overwhelming,” Dr. Gigi Youngblood with Children’s of Alabama Hospital said.

Dr. Youngblood credits to the recent rise of cases among children to activities outside the classroom.

“It’s the social gatherings, it’s the extra curriculars. That’s where we are seeing so many outbreaks,” Dr. Youngblood said.

Experts say children can easily spread the virus, too.

“I think K-12 are spreading a lot of infection back to parents at home, Dr. Michael Sagg with UAB said. “We are seeing a lot of that happen.”

There are still a lot of unknowns of how the virus can affect children, including the possible long term effects.

“We need to be thinking about these long term effects of COVID because we are defintely seeing those in adults,” Dr. Youngblood said.

And with the rise in cases, experts urge mask wearing and social distancing.

“We’ve got to be thinking beyond just the schools. We’ve got change our behaviors,” Dr. Youngblood said.

Dr. Youngblood says it’s not clear how the vaccine affects children, but if it is proven to work and safe, she encourages parents to act quickly.

“Only time is going to answer those questions, but yes. When we have a safe and effective vaccine for children, absolutely. I will not only encourage this for my patients, I will give it to my children as well,” Dr. Youngblood said.

Dr. Youngblood also believes more testing is another safety precaution because it can identify cases quickly, so people can isolate and limit spread.