Coronavirus transmission in Mississippi is highest among young, unvaccinated residents and cases are rising among children. Pediatricians share how parents can protect their kids in school.
Experts say kids are at risk for several severe symptoms of the highly transmissible omicron coronavirus variant, and only 6% of children between the ages of 5 and 11 in Mississippi are fully vaccinated. In the state’s only children’s hospital, nearly all coronavirus patients are unvaccinated, or are to young to be vaccinated at this time. Dr. Anita Henderson is President of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She says some parents are hesitant to get their children vaccinated because they may have had the coronavirus during the delta surge.
Dr. Henderson says “What I would tell those parents is, I am seeing patients in the clinic who are getting covid a second time. They may have had it last winter, or they may have had it during delta and they’re getting it again. So just because you child has had covid once does not mean they have lifelong immunity.”
Several schools across the state have switched to virtual learning as classes resume following the winter break. Students who are fully vaccinated and are exposed to the virus are not required to quarantine for the recommended five days under CDC guidance. Dr. Henderson says if a child is not vaccinated, they should stay home from school until that time frame is finished.
“If your child is in school, they are going to be exposed to covid,” says Dr. Henderson. “Think about who they are going to be in contact with after that. You’re going to want to avoid being around elderly grandparents. Or people who have compromised immune systems. Right now it’s not the time to have large gatherings with extended family.”
Coronavirus vaccines are available for children 5 years and older, and experts say children should wear masks in school to reduce transmission.