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'We're definitely seeing more kids': Indy children’s hospitals on COVID-19 cases

"The reality is we'll probably see more kids get hospitalized."
Pediatric COVID-19 cases on the rise
Posted at 11:18 PM, Dec 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-28 23:18:08-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Two Indiana children’s hospitals are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases.

On Tuesday, Riley Hospital for Children had 29 patients with COVID-19. A week ago, the hospital saw 24 patients.

Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Riley, Dr. Samina Bhumbra, said a third of the cases over the last several days are in the ICU.

“We started to see hints of an uptick back in November, but I think we're really in the in the kind of in the meat of it now,” Bhumbra said.

Bhumbra notes the majority of kids with coronavirus at Riley are unvaccinated.

“Most of the kids we're seeing are kids that would be eligible for the vaccine, so five and over easily,” Bhumbra said.

At Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital, there are three inpatients currently.

“For the first year and a half of the virus, we really had zero,” Dr. Christopher Belcher, Ascension St. Vincent Infection Prevention Medical Director, said.

On Christmas Eve, 11 COVID-19 positive patients came through the ER and most were treated and released. Belcher said the hospital is seeing a range of ages and children with underlying conditions, as well as many who are unvaccinated.

“We're definitely seeing more kids around in the hospital for COVID than we'd had in prior weeks and months. I'm hearing about it more from the community,” Belcher said.

According to the Indiana Department of Health’s vaccine dashboard, a little more than 10% of kids ages 5-11, nearly 38% of 12-15-year-olds and about 45% of 16-19-year-olds are fully vaccinated.

Both doctors agree that the numbers need improvement.

“I am very worried that with the low vaccination rate and kids and as they go back to school, where vaccines, you know, are not mandated, that the virus is gonna spread and they will be that tinder that keeps the fire going,” Belcher said.

As for what is next when it comes to kids and COVID-19, there is still a lot to learn with omicron, but both doctors expect pediatric cases to continue climbing.

“I’m hopeful perhaps we'll start to see a slowdown soon, but I think that's, again, hopeful. The reality is we'll probably see more kids get hospitalized. It's hard to know what that how many that would be,” Bhumbra said.

Children with any COVID-19 symptoms are urged to stay home at least until they can get tested.

With long testing lines and booked up appointments, both doctors are asking while waiting for a test, children need to stay home and away from others.

For children presenting serious symptoms like not drinking or labored breathing, it is asked that the child goes to the emergency room.

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