The Kids Are Getting COVID

The Dallas Independent School District will drop its mask mandate after MLK Day.
The Dallas Independent School District will drop its mask mandate after MLK Day. Wiki Commons
When Dallas County’s Public Health Committee met last week to discuss how to prepare for the omicron variant, it found that pediatric hospitalizations for COVID-19 are on the rise. That’s not exclusive to Dallas County.

The inpatient population at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth has quadrupled in one week, the healthcare provider told The Dallas Morning News. Thirty children are being treated for COVID-19 at the medical center. Five of those were in the ICU as of Wednesday. Children’s Health in Dallas also reported 47 hospitalizations for COVID-19 last week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded a national daily average of 378 people 17 and younger being admitted to hospitals with the coronavirus. The CDC saw a similar spike in September, with 342 per day.

During an interview this week, Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, said many of the children with serious COVID-19 symptoms haven’t been vaccinated.

"Virtually all, not 100 percent but close to that, the children who are seriously ill in our hospitals from COVID-19 are children whose parents decided they did not want to vaccinate them," Fauci said on NewsNation. "That is avoidable.”

For some, yes, but the coronavirus vaccines are only available for children 5 or older. Additionally, boosters haven’t yet been approved for children eligible for the vaccine. But, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to change that soon.

According to The New York Times, the FDA is expected to approve Pfizer booster shots for 12- to 15-year-olds. The Times also reported that the FDA may change the recommended time between your last shot and your booster from six months to five months. Additionally, they may approve boosters for immunocompromised children ages 5 to 11.

The Dallas Independent School District was set to stop requiring masks this month, but over the weekend the district extended the requirement to mid-March, according to WFAA.

“If and when the mask mandate is lifted, the district will still recommend the wearing of masks in schools and offices for the safety of students and staff,” spokesperson Robyn Harris told the Observer earlier this month.

DFW schools haven’t announced any potential closures because of the omicron variant, but some are sounding the alarm that they might be necessary.

“We're going to see a return, basically, to a good portion of how things looked last year," Dan Domenech, executive director of the School Superintendents Association, told USA Today.

"Everybody wants to keep the schools open," he said. "The schools want to stay open. But it's a logistical nightmare. Depending on the infection rate in communities, it's going to be hard to do that."
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Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn