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What pediatricians say you should do to keep children safe from delta variant

The St. Louis task force reported that about half of the kids hospitalized locally are too young to be vaccinated

ST. LOUIS — Tuesday, the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force said they’ve seen a jump in the number of children in hospitals with COVID-19, over the span of just one week.

"We've gone from just a week from having 13 kids in pediatric with COVID to 20 this week, many of whom are in critical condition in our ICU units," Dr. Clay Dunagan, of the Task Force, said Tuesday.

Dr. Dunagan said more children are making their way to St. Louis area hospitals because of complications from COVID-19, and local pediatric care experts say they're seeing more children in need of care too, as the delta variant makes the virus even more transmissible.

RELATED: Task force says 84% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients aren't fully vaccinated, including some too young to get vaccine

We talked with Dr. Jason Newland, a Professor of Pediatrics at Washington University. 

“Thankfully, the number of children impacted here, in fact, it is much less than that of adults, but we're seeing more," he said.

Pediatric Emergency Medical Physician Dr. Rachel Charney said it has to do with who is able to get the vaccine right now. 

"A larger and larger percentage of those with COVID are children," she said. "What has changed is that our older adults have a fairly high rate of vaccination, whereas our kids have a low and for a lot of kids they don't even qualify for vaccine. And so that percentage of the population that's vulnerable has shifted down to our younger population."

The St. Louis task force reported that about half of the children hospitalized locally are under the age of 12, and too young to be vaccinated. But, the other half were eligible for the shots.

So what parents can do to protect their children, especially now that it's time to head back to school?

"You vaccinate those who can be vaccinated. You mask everybody, because we know that that'll protect us and you stay home when you're sick," Dr. Newland said.

What if your children are too young to be vaccinated?

"I recommend parents get vaccinated I think if you have more people in your home that are vaccinated that makes it less likely that you're going to bring COVID-19 into your home," Dr. Newland said.

"If you have any symptoms in your kids that aren't completely normal for them, you go ahead and get them tested," Dr. Charney added.

Dr. Charney said she has seen children with COVID who start showing symptoms that look like anything from a stomach bug to seasonal allergies, and it can progress from there. She said it’s important to take any changes in your child's health seriously.