Local pediatric COVID hospitalizations dropping, FDA to discuss vaccine for kids 5-11

AUGUSTA, Georgia (WJBF) – The number of COVID patients in local hospitals has steadily declined over the past month, including pediatric cases at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia.

The delta variant caused a huge spike in local COVID cases, and children were no exception.

“We’ve certainly seen a lot of cases in our pediatric emergency department and we know, of course, that there are cases of deaths from pediatric COVID,” said Dr. Phillip Coule, Chief Medical Officer of AU Health. “However, as a percentage of the number of cases, they remain very low.”

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dr. Coule says children are usually not affected by COVID to the same extent as many adults.

“This group as a whole tends not to get as sick with the disease, doesn’t require hospitalization, and doesn’t get seriously ill as often,” said Dr. Coule.

And as pediatric cases dwindle, doctors say they’re still seeing something that affects children… cases of childhood multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C.

“That’s kind of a condition where the child can become seriously ill because the immune system is out of control,” said Dr. Coule. “In general, the number of cases requiring hospitalization and becoming seriously ill in that pediatric age group is low. However, when it does occur, this particular syndrome is quite devastating.”

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On Thursday, the FDA will discuss whether to approve COVID vaccines for children ages 5-11.

“Certainly, there are patients in that age group who should be vaccinated, especially those with conditions that we know are predisposed to poor outcomes with COVID,” said Dr. Coule.

And approval for the Pfizer inclusion could come as early as November.

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