Pediatric hospitalizations are on the rise, but not from COVID

Coronavirus

SAN DIEGO — Hospitalizations are on the rise for kids with COVID-19, but not necessarily from coronavirus.

Dr. John Bradley, director of infectious diseases at Rady Children’s Hospital, said more children are testing positive for COVID-19, but they’re not getting very sick.

“The kids are doing OK with the omicron variant,” Dr. Bradley said. 

Pediatric patients are tested for COVID as part of the admission process and more and more kids are finding out that they have COVID, even if they’re not sick from it. On average, there are 20 to 25 children in Rady Children’s Hospital at any one time who are COVID positive.

“COVID isn’t the problem,” Dr. Bradley explained. “It’s all the other viruses we’re seeing every year like RSV, and we’re beginning to see influenza, but there’s no kids admitted in the hospital COVID-pneumonia, period.”

Doctors are seeing an uptick in hospitalizations because kids are coming in for a variety of reasons, Dr. Bradley said.

“You know cancer, injuries, kidney infections, seizures, everything else,” he said. “There’s just a lot of kids that are testing positive for COVID.”

Dr. Bradley says the omicron variant is very mild in children.

“They’re coming in, going out, coming, in going out, so it’s not like these are chronic infections,” he said. “These are kids that come in with other diagnoses. There’s a kid up in the unit right now who was just diagnosed with cancer, comes in with fever. Well, it’s probably the cancer. The kid tests positive, so we’re in isolation.”

Though kids aren’t getting very sick, he still recommends mask wearing and the vaccine for eligible children.

“The vaccine has shown to be effective and safe and the few side effects are very short term,” Dr. Bradley explained. “Kids get over them and none of the vaccine side effects have had any lasting consequences.”

Children are still the part of the population spreading the virus the quickest among each other and to adults, he added.

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