Doctors hope a vaccine for children under age 5 is authorized soon as Omicron swirls

Ochsner Health pediatrician says COVID cases in kids have increased
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 6:04 PM CST
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Young kids at Ochsner Health.
Young kids at Ochsner Health.(Ochsner Health System)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - As cases of COVID-19 infection remain high some kids remain without any vaccine protection and doctors are hoping a vaccine is authorized soon for kids under age 5. Governor John Bel Edwards says COVID cases among kids are rising fast in Louisiana.

Dr. Nicholas Algu, a pediatrician at Ochsner Health is seeing kids with COVID.

“We’ve been busy,” said Algu.

Currently, kids under the age of 5 are not eligible to be vaccinated making them susceptible to the highly contagious Omicron variant.

“Especially in the past couple of weeks the numbers have cropped up,” said Algu.

During a Thursday afternoon press conference, Gov. Edwards mentioned the spiking cases in kids.

“Cases in children less than 18 are rapidly increasing, account for the greatest percentage of cases among all age groups since the beginning of January,” said Edwards.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said a vaccine for kids under 5 years of age could be authorized in a month.

Algu said that would be a huge step in combatting the virus.

“If we could get those people like little kids vaccinated, I think it will be huge for them. Currently, there are trials going on, Ochsner is doing some trials as well right now and yes I’m hopeful, the sooner the better,” he said.

Given the level of kids contracting the virus, some daycare centers are impacted.

“A lot of daycares are sending kids home because they’re having symptoms, I get, it is frustrating from their standpoint, but you really shouldn’t be bringing your kids to the daycare if they’re sick because that’s how you’re going to be spreading to all kinds of, to other kids, their families, to elders,” said Algu.

But fortunately, Dr. Algu says he is seeing more kids come in with mild upper respiratory symptoms.

“Luckily most of them have not had respiratory distress where they’re needing to go to the hospital but occasionally, we’ll get somebody that’s getting like bronchial, bronchiolitis, bronchitis picture as well as pneumonia,” Algu stated.

He said it is possible that some upper respiratory symptoms could be harder for younger kids.

“Oh, yes and that’s the case for any respiratory virus,” said Algu. “Basically, they get so congested they have just difficulty breathing, especially at a younger age where they can fully blow their nose.”

Still, Fauci is trying to tamp down speculation that Omicron could bring an end to the pandemic and cause an endemic.

“That would only be the case if we don’t get another variant,” said Fauci.

Dr. Algu says masks, hand-washing, and social distancing is still highly recommended.

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