- Seven Mississippi children are battling COVID-19 in intensive care units, a top health official said.
- Two of them are in intensive care units on ventilators.
- Experts worry that Mississippi’s low vaccination rate is putting children more at risk.
Seven children are currently battling COVID-19 in intensive care units across Mississippi as state health officials warn of a Delta variant surge, ABC News reported.
Two of the children are on ventilators, state health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs told ABC in a statement.
It is not clear whether the children, whose ages range from under 1 year old to 17 years old, have pre-existing health conditions.
Mississippi has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with only a third of the population fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Experts warn that the low vaccination rates are putting children more at risk, especially as they are due to return to school in several weeks.
Dr. Jennifer Bryan, chairman of the board of trustees at Mississippi’s State Medical Association told CBS News: “In this phase of the pandemic there are really two life choices: it’s to vaccinate, or you’re going to get COVID. It is that contagious of a virus.”
Hospitalizations and case numbers have continued to increase in the last few weeks as the Delta variant, otherwise known as B.1.617, continues to surge.
Since the start of the pandemic, Mississippi reported more than 325,000 cases and almost 7,500 deaths, according to a tracker by Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Alan Jones, associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, said his hospital has seen a “significant increase” in pediatric patients and that they seem to be more symptomatic than the children who became ill earlier in the pandemic, ABC reported.
“These seem to be more classic COVID symptoms — fever, cough, respiratory illness,” he said, according to ABC News. “I suspect that’s probably because this Delta variant is importing a little more severe illness in the pediatric population than those earlier strains that were circulating.”
While the Delta variant may be making COVID-19 more common in kids, more severe infections are still rare, Insider reported previously.