AUSTIN (KXAN ) — According to an NBC News analysis of Department of Health and Human Services data in the last four weeks, the average number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 jumped 52%.
Locally we are seeing dozens of testing sites booked and more and more people testing positive for COVID-19.
Dr. Sunaina Suhag, a pediatrician for Austin Regional Clinic, explains what her office is seeing and what parents need to know.
Pediatric cases of COVID-19 are surging in some parts of the country. What are you seeing happening in your office locally?
Dr. Suhag: As we’ve seen around the country, in Austin, we’re noticing a new fourth wave of COVID cases as well. So and it’s happening very rapidly. You know, before we had kind of a slow ramp up, we were able to kind of prepare for and cases have been doubling every week, this time around. And Omicron, in a matter of two or three weeks has now become the predominant variant according to Austin Public Health. And that’s definitely what we’re seeing as well.
For parents, this this can be scary. What are the signs that your child has COVID? Can we go over those again?
Dr. Suhag: So the signs of COVID-19 can be pretty mild to more significant. And there’s a broad variety. Some kids might just have some watery eyes or sneezing, things that often families have been telling me they think were cedar allergies to more significant cough, congestion, wheezing. Some children have asthma, diarrhea and vomiting, lots of mucus and congestion and cold and flu symptoms.
And what advice do you have for parents who are concerned that their child has caught COVID-19? What are the steps they should take?
Dr. Suhag: I think the best thing to do if you feel like your child has any sort of virus or cold symptom is to contact your pediatrician as soon as you can and get a test. And so a lot of times the only way we can know if it’s COVID or something else, is to be tested. At Austin Regional Clinic we’ve got testing sites open through all of our business hours and we’re really ramping up the testing right now. If you do think that your child has COVID-19, the best thing that we can do is to stay home and to isolate. We also want to make sure that if we do test positive, we tell anybody who has been in contact with us 48 hours before our symptoms started or before our positive test, so we can make sure that they stay home in quarantine as well. So really trying to prevent the spread is going to be on us — as a community to make sure we’re letting everybody know and preventing exposures.
Have you seen a lot of parents wanting to get their children vaccinated?
Dr. Suhag: Since the vaccine has come out for the younger age groups, we have overwhelmingly seen families wanting to be vaccinated. They’ve been asking me since the beginning of the pandemic, ‘When can I protect my child? How can I protect my child? When is the vaccine going to be available?’ So, you know, our phone lines, and our My Chart app at our clinic crashed when the — when the vaccines came out. So everybody’s really trying to do their part. I have also seen a few families who are nervous about, you know, a new vaccine being on the market. But I can tell you overwhelmingly, it is absolutely safe. The side effects have been minimal to extremely mild when it comes to kids being vaccinated. And if you’re putting it off, which I have seen some families doing, I think you can feel confident that you’re making a good choice for your family by vaccinating.