Kids may be at risk for serious illness weeks after COVID

Coronavirus

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As cases of the delta variant rise, so do concerns about children’s health and safety as they return to school.

Pediatric infectious disease doctors report there has been a significant increase in the number of children who have been infected with the COVID-19 delta variant over the last month. Doctors have also seen a significant increase in the number of kids who have required hospitalizations for their COVID infection.

Dr. Tina Tan, a pediatric infectious disease doctor at Lurie Children’s Hospital, said kids who were asymptomatic or had a mild infection may still be at risk for developing multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) in which various body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes and other organs.

“The CDC has reported a fairly large number of these cases and the thing about MIS-C is that we can’t predict who’s going to develop it,” Tan said. “So some kids may be asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic and then two to six weeks after they get the infection, they basically develop MIS-C.”

Tan said the best way parents can protect their unvaccinated kids who aren’t yet eligible for the shot is to be vaccinated themselves. As for schools, Tan said they can make it a safe environment with universal masking, distancing, sanitizing and having as many eligible students and educators vaccinated as possible.

“We just need to keep these kids safe because this particular variant doesn’t pick and choose who it will infect,” she said.

While the delta variant is the top concern for parents and educators, Tan said pediatricians know that children benefit much more from in-person learning than they do from virtual learning. She said even though there will be challenges, going back to school in person is still the best — and healthiest — option for overall well-being.

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