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Richmond-area doctors say child COVID-19 cases increase but hospitalizations remain stable

Cases of RSV spike in children
Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 3:33 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 26, 2021 at 8:11 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond-area pediatricians aren’t sounding the alarms just yet, but they do worry they will see more pediatric hospitalizations in the coming weeks as in-person learning continues.

VCU Health System says the number of child COVID-19 cases is increasing, but hospitalizations are stable right now.

HCA Virginia says it’s seeing the same trend in kids, and sadly, those who are in the hospital are unvaccinated.

“We continue to talk to our hospital colleagues to try to track how many pediatric hospitalizations there are, and we have not seen that pressure on the pediatric system yet,” said Dr. Danny Avula, Virginia Vaccine Coordinator.

This is a particularly challenging issue for medical providers since children under the age of 12 can’t get a vaccine just yet.

All doctors worry case numbers and hospitalizations will increase as more students go back to school.

“The challenging thing for us is that we’ve been through this, and we were kind of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel at the beginning of the summer where it felt like things were slowly creeping back to normal, and then feeling like we’re seeing these numbers go back up for us again going into the school year,” said Dr. Tiffany Kimbrough, VCU General Pediatrician.

But pediatricians have their eyes on something else too. Cases of RSV, a common respiratory virus, is at record levels in the past five years.

In Central Virginia, RSV positivity is 22% right now; at the state level, it’s 12%.

Unusual numbers doctors say for an issue that normally hits in the winter months. But health providers suspect the increase in cases is due to more children interacting again with others since restrictions lifted.

“We are having multiple children admitted with RSV, needing oxygen support or respiratory support, and some even ending up in the ICU,” said Dr. Kimbrough.

A vaccine for children under 12 could happen by Christmas, if not sooner. Avula said approval for an under 12 vaccine could come in the next month or two.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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