PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon health leaders warn a surge in COVID cases among children is on the horizon. Child COVID cases are skyrocketing in several states but Oregon, at this moment, is not seeing that bump. Yet.

The surge in cases from the now-dominant variant omicron showed a 50% increase in child hospitalizations nationwide, often from COVID-related breathing difficulties.

“There is the multi-system inflammatory syndrome that we’ve seen in children. We’ve had 63 cases of that in Oregon to date,” said Dr. Paul Cieslak, the senior advisor for the Oregon Health Authority. “That’s a pretty severe condition that probably represents an immune response to the viral infection. You don’t see that with vaccines.”

Right now about 30% of Oregon kids between 5-11 have gotten a COVID vaccination. That means most have not even had one dose. Of kids between 12-17 only 66% have received a first dose. And school is beginning again next week.

Parents worry about their kids’ safety. With the increase in hospitalizations, more parents are getting their kids vaccinated along with planning to make other changes.

“There’s no easy answer for it,” one parent told KOIN 6 News. “It’s just one of the things kids really need. They do well when they go into class in-person. I think it’s really important for them to be there. I understand there are huge concerns for parents but I don’t quite know how to reconcile this.”

“With the omicron variant one of the things we’re considering is a better mask for our child,” another parent told KOIN 6 News.

“Surgical masks are better than a simple cloth mask,” Cieslak said. “If you’re wearing a cloth mask, a double layer is better than a single layer. And, of course, the KN95s are going to be the best mask you can have.”

At last check, more than 600 Oregon kids 18-and-under have been hospitalized with COVID since the pandemic started. Five children have died.