Hendrick pediatrician encourages vaccines as cases continue to climb among Taylor Co. kids

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — As more and more Abilene kids are catching COVID-19, a Hendrick Health Pediatrician is urging parents to get their kids vaccinated if they are eligible.

The Abilene Taylor County Public Health District is reporting 94 new COVID-19 cases, 14 of which are school aged children.

There are currently 1,143 active cases, the most since Feb. 15, when there were 1,278. However, COVID-19 numbers were not reported for the next week due to the February freeze, so it’s likely that this number was reached more recently than that.

Of the 94 new cases reported Friday, 14 of them were kids ages 0-19, including two in pre-K, three in elementary school, three in middle school, and six in high school.

In Taylor County, there have been 115 new cases reported in kids ages 0-19 since Aug. 2, accounting for 5.6% of total cases in that age group since the first COVID-19 case was reported in Taylor County on March 26, 2020.

There have been 62 new cases in that age group since Monday.

COVID-19 cases in Taylor County kids ages 0-19 are climbing

Hendrick Pediatrician Dr. Brad Barham says COVID in kids can be very serious. Although they haven’t had to deal with critically ill kids as much as those dealing with adults, there’s still a risk of MIS-C, as well as “long COVID,” or lasting effects from kids contracting the virus.

“While we haven’t seen a lot [of serious COVID-related illness] in children, we do see it. It is possible that your child may end up with a severe complication of the coronavirus infection,” Barham says.

While cases in kids are increasing, Dr. Barham says so are hospitalizations across the country.

“Kids can get sick with COVID. We are seeing more kids right now with COVID, both in Abilene and across the south, and in several pediatric hospitals, pediatric admissions are up,” Dr. Barham said.

That’s a trend that may continue, according to Barham, as many kids will be returning to school in the coming weeks.

“When kids go back to school, it is going to spread much faster, that is just the natural process whenever kids are entering back into the school systems,” Barham says.

That’s one reason Dr. Barham says he and his colleagues recommend getting kids older than 12 vaccinated.

Dr. Barham says although it’s understandable for parents to ask questions and be skeptical about giving the vaccine to kids, they should drop preconceived notions and be open to the data.

“Skepticism is OK, cynicism is not,” Dr. Barham says. “The data is very good on this vaccine. It’s effective, and it’s safe for kids. It’s as safe as the other vaccines we’re giving to kids.”

Dr. Barham says vaccines will likely be approved for children in younger age groups later this fall or winter.

Hendrick Health reports 74 hospitalizations on Friday, 90.91% of whom have not been fully vaccinated, including 96.88% of ICU patients who have not been fully vaccinated.

A total of 55,620 Taylor County residents received at least one vaccine dose, while 46,315 have been fully vaccinated, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

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