What Northern California pediatricians say parents can do about omicron surge

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States is the highest ever, and many patients are young children. “I don’t think anyone has seen a disease like COVID-19 impact children the way it has,” said Dr. Beatrice Tettah, who has treated children for the past 10 years in Sacramento. At Tettah’s private practice, phone calls about the omicron variant and possible exposure are now constant. Most of his patients who test positive are under the age of 5, according to a group of medical experts, they are very vulnerable. “It’s been heartbreaking at times,” Tettah said. “They didn’t ask to be exposed to it or to catch it.” Pediatrics. The majority of children who end up in hospital are not vaccinated. “For children under 5, there is no vaccine,” said Dr. Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis. “For children 5-11 years old, the vaccine recommendation was only recently made…the vaccination rate in these children is less than 25%, so they are also vulnerable to infection.” The spike in omicron cases is occurring in the middle of cold and flu season, complicating efforts to quickly diagnose patients. “If your child is coughing or has a runny nose, treat those symptoms first,” Tettah said. “I wouldn’t jump to, ‘oh my God, it’s probably COVID-19.’ Tettah added that if the child has been around someone with a known case of coronavirus, the chances of them catching the virus become much higher. Children who have trouble breathing should be taken to the emergency room immediately. Edith Gomez knows firsthand the anxiety of watching a child contract the virus. She noticed her 10-year-old son was showing symptoms last week. “Fever, chills, sweating, sore throat, cough,” she listed. “It was just bad.” Her son tested positive for COVID-19. He was not vaccinated at the time, she said. KCRA 3 asked Gomez what she could advise other parents to avoid a similar situation. “Vaccinate and vaccinate,” Gomez said. “People say, ‘no, he got it, he’s immune.’ Yes, it is – to this variant. But I don’t know how many other variants are coming.” She plans to have her son vaccinated against both the flu and COVID-19 after he comes out of quarantine. UC Davis Health recommends following these safety guidelines: Children ages 2 and older can wear a mask Children should also be kept away from large crowds Adults should limit children’s exposure opportunities If your child “The best way to keep children safe is to make sure those around them are healthy and at low risk of infection,” Blumberg said. The variant was first detected in the United States in a traveler returning from South Africa who tested positive for the virus on November 29. In mid-December, omicron became the dominant variant in COVID-19 cases in the United States. more transmissible, so everyone will be more susceptible to infection,” Blumberg said. “The bright side is that it causes milder disease, and so what we’re seeing is less lower respiratory disease, less pneumonia.” KCRA 3 also asked UC Davis Health about the potential long-term effects of COVID-19 for children. “We expect this variant to cause MIS-C, multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, which usually occurs 2 to 4 weeks after an acute infection,” Blumberg said. “It’s rare, but I’ve seen many cases in the Sacramento area.” Blumberg added that he expects to see more of MIS-C cases in the next 2-4 weeks. The disease can have a serious impact on the heart, blood vessels and other organs. “The other thing to worry about is the long COVID,” the doctor said. “About 30% of children may end up with a long COVID and it may impact their normal activities and learning opportunities.” The country’s medical experts continue to push for vaccinations and boosters as the strongest form of protection against COVID-19.| RELATED | COVID-19 in California: find information on testing, omicron updates, vaccine rates and recalls

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States is the highest ever, and many patients are young children.

“I don’t think anyone has seen a disease like COVID-19 affect children the way it has,” said Dr. Beatrice Tettah, who has treated children for the past 10 years in Sacramento.

At Tettah’s private practice, phone calls regarding the omicron variant and possible exposure are now constant. Most of his patients who test positive are under the age of 5, according to a group of medical experts, who are very vulnerable.

“It’s been heartbreaking at times,” Tettah said. “They didn’t ask to be exposed to it or to catch it.”

COVID-19 infections in American children are “growing exponentially,” with more than 580,000 cases reported for the week of Jan. 6 alone, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The majority of children who end up in hospital are not vaccinated.

“For children under 5, there is no vaccine,” said Dr. Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis. “For children 5-11 years old, the vaccine recommendation was only recently made…the vaccination rate in these children is less than 25%, so they are also vulnerable to infection.”

The spike in omicron cases is occurring in the middle of cold and flu season, complicating efforts to quickly diagnose patients.

“If your child is coughing or has a runny nose, treat those symptoms first,” Tettah said. “I wouldn’t jump to, ‘oh my God, it’s probably COVID-19.’

Tettah added that if the child has been around someone with a known case of coronavirus, the chances of them catching the virus become much higher.

Children who have trouble breathing should be taken to the emergency room immediately.

Edith Gomez knows firsthand the anguish of watching a child contract the virus. She noticed her 10-year-old son was showing symptoms last week.

“Fever, chills, sweating, sore throat, cough,” she listed. “It was just bad.”

Her son tested positive for COVID-19. He was not vaccinated at the time, she said.

KCRA 3 asked Gomez what she could advise other parents to avoid a similar situation.

“Vaccinate and vaccinate,” Gomez said. “People say, ‘no, he got it, he’s immune.’ Yes, it is – to this variant. But I don’t know how many other variants are coming.”

She plans to have her son vaccinated against the flu and COVID-19 after he comes out of quarantine.

UC Davis Health recommends following these safety guidelines:

  • Children 2 years and older can wear a mask
  • Children should also be kept away from large crowds
  • Adults should limit opportunities for children to be exposed
  • If your child has symptoms, get them tested

“The best way to keep children safe is to make sure those around them are healthy and have a low risk of infection,” Blumberg said.

The omicron variant was found to be far more contagious than other known strains of COVID-19 as it raced across the world. The variant was first detected in the United States of a traveler returning from South Africa who tested positive for the virus on November 29. In mid-December, omicron became the dominant variant in US cases of COVID-19.

“It’s 2 to 5 times more transmissible, so everyone will be more susceptible to infection,” Blumberg said. “The upside is that it causes milder disease, and so what we’re seeing is less lower respiratory disease, less pneumonia.”

KCRA 3 also asked UC Davis Health about the potential long-term effects of COVID-19 for children.

“We expect this variant to cause MIS-C, the multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, which typically occurs 2 to 4 weeks after an acute infection,” Blumberg said. “It’s rare, but I’ve seen many cases in the Sacramento area.”

Blumberg added that he expects to see more MIS-C cases in the next 2-4 weeks. The disease can have serious effects on the heart, blood vessels and other organs.

“The other thing to worry about is the long COVID,” the doctor said. “Around 30% of children may end up with long COVID and this may impact their normal activities and learning opportunities.”

The country’s medical experts continue to encourage vaccinations and boosters as the strongest form of protection against COVID-19.

| RELATED | COVID-19 in California: find information on testing, omicron updates, vaccine rates and recalls

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