GUILDERLAND, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York State has more children hospitalized with COVID-19 than any state in the country. Most of the hospitalizations are centered around New York City but the concern is that hospitalizations could increase in Upstate New York.
Much of the increase of COVID in children is driven by the Omicron variant, according to two pediatricians. Despite the incredible increase of cases among children, those same pediatricians say most are only suffering with mild symptoms.
“I think we’re going to be okay. The severity of this strain is actually pretty mild, especially with children,” says Dr. James Saperstone, M.D. with Community Care Pediatrics. “The peak of hospitalization for kids isn’t as bad as it was during the peak of Delta back in September but you know it is just the sheer number of kids in the hospital.”
Dr. Saperstone also says a majority of children with COVID who are experiencing severe symptoms are unvaccinated, along with having pre-existing conditions. “Most of the kids who do end up in the hospital anyway are unvaccinated. That’s the other reason. There’s not much of a buildup of vaccinations in children. Of course there are no vaccinations if you are under 5-years old.”
Dr. Danielle Wales, M.D., a pediatrician with Albany Med Internal Medicine and Pediatrics in Cohoes says some of the symptoms in children are hard to discern from other viruses. “Many of these kids are having fevers and they can be pretty high, up to 103, 104,” Dr. Wales explains, “they can have some stomach issues. They can have vomiting. They can have diarrhea. They can have a stuffy nose so it’s really hard to tell COVID apart from a stomach bug, the Flu or just a common cold.”
Dr. Wales also says there is still a lot to learn about the Omicron variant, especially in children. For now, she says, making sure you are following CDC and state guidance is paramount.
“Now we’re seeing a lot of kids get it just because it is in the community so much and that’s why vaccinations are so important, also masking,” Dr. Wales says, “a lot of these kids are too young to get vaccinated so we need to do all the precautions we can when we’re out in the community to make sure we’re masking up and that we’re vaccinated and boostered.”
As far as testing goes in children, Dr. Saperstone says, “you can get a PlayStation 5 easier than you can get a COVID rapid test.” Both Drs. Saperstone and Wales say tests are hard to come by, but urge parents to call their child’s pediatrician or your local pharmacy to see if they have tests available.