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SAN DIEGO – As masks start coming off, pediatricians say the number of sick kids is going up.

“We were very careful during the pandemic,” said Ryan Alanzalon, a pediatric cardiologist for Kaiser Permanente. “Everyone was washing their hands, wearing their mask, keeping their distance away from big globs of kids coming together with their germs, so to speak.

“Now that we’ve started to do that more, we’re starting to see it open up more.”

Alanzalon says children are in a vulnerable state with many having limited exposure to people in the past 15 months. As a result, he said their immune systems haven’t been tested much.

That’s starting to change with children turning up with all sorts of things.

“(We’re seeing) something called Roseola, which actually is very scary,” Alanzalon said. “They can have three, four, five days of high fever and then all of a sudden, the fever stops and poof — there’s this rash that just grows. That usually takes a few days to recover and we’re seeing a few cases of that.”

Doctors also are seeing adenoviruses, which can cause “eye goop and respiratory symptoms,” according to Alanzalon.

It’s part of the reason why San Diego resident Elias Orozco has stayed clear of daycare facilities for his nine children during the past year. But he still plans to send them back here soon.

“Kids get the sniffles and they touch stuff,” Orozco said. “The staff doesn’t have time to clean every single toy.”

Lately, Alanzalon said there’s been a slight increase in COVID-19 cases among children ages 12 and under, who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. That also could change by the fall, said.

“Originally, we were involved with some of the clinical trials with regards to the Moderna vaccine coming down an age group up in Los Angeles,” he said. “Our group is working on that as well. Hopefully, we’re thinking by the fall, late fall is when the age groups will start to come down.”