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Children Are Getting Omicron At A Higher Rate Than Previous Variants

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Lines are still long at testing sites all across South Florida as COVID cases continue to increase.  Over the weekend, the state added more than 85,500 new cases, and many of them are children.

"It's a cautionary tale, about getting all children who are illegible 5 years or older vaccinated," said Dr. Tina Carroll-Scott, who adds as COVID-19 cases continue to climb now there's news that children are contracting the virus at a much higher rate than pervious variants.  "With the omicron variant we are definitely seeing a significant increase in pediatric hospitalization across the U.S."

Dr. Carroll-Scott says because of the highly contagious nature of omicron, many hospital systems are becoming overwhelmed, especially in the pediatric units.

"At Nicklaus Children's Hospital they've had a 2-to-3-fold increase in their numbers, but the majority of the children have been unvaccinated or ineligible to be vaccinated at this time and that has really been a trend at most children's hospital across the U.S.," added Carroll-Scott.

The news comes children all across South Florida returned to school from winter break, leaving many on edge.

"My granddaughter is expose and the only thing we can do is keep our eyes out let's hope that she doesn't get sick," said Deborah White.

But her family is doing more than just hoping. Her granddaughter attends a private school where masks are mandatory, and she is encouraged to social distance.

Still, not all parents are worried about virus.

"We really were not concerned," said Japa Volchok. "We all had COVID in the house, over Thanksgiving, we all were vaccinated as well, so we felt pretty much comfortable going back to school."

But, Volchok says even though his family feel confident they have the antibodies, he understands many other parents do not.

"We're currently in a WhatsApp group and there were a lot of parents who were keeping their kids out of school, a lot of parents were the kids were sick, and I would say 2/3 of the schools was out," said Volchok.

As for Dr. Carroll-Scott, she warns as more children get the virus, even if they were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms, they can still develop a much more dangerous syndrome weeks after getting COVID.

"This condition is known as Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, and it does require a hospital care, with a lot of children ending up in the ICU for treatment whether it's fluid support or other medication that they need to be on," she said.

Officials are still encouraging everyone, even those who are vaccinated, to wearing mask, social distance and wash hands. They say outside of being vaccinated they are still the best options to protect yourself.

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