Midstate doctors urging parents to get vaccinated to protect children still vulnerable to COVID

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Doctors say pandemic restrictions continuing to relax is a big reason more kids and unvaccinated adults are getting COVID, and Midstate hospitals continue to treat more and more COVID patients.

The Delta variant is still wreaking havoc. Doctors say younger and younger patients are coming into hospitals with worse and worse symptoms.

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Midstate hospitals are being overwhelmed with patients.

At WellSpan as of Tuesday, Sept. 29, “we had approximately 259 COVID patients across our seven hospitals,” Dr. Eugene Curley, infectious diseases specialist, said.

“Across the UPMC Central Pennsylvania System we have 152 patients that are admitted and 47 of which are in our ICUs,” Dr. Michael Spangler, vice president of medical affairs with UPMC Memorial, said.

And those adult cases are contributing to kids getting sick.

As of last Friday, Hershey Elementary School reported 54 positive cases and 224 others either in quarantine or with symptoms, forcing virtual learning all this week.

“A lot of school leaders, they’re getting on the phone with the Department of Health, saying here’s our numbers, this is what we have, what do you recommend? They usually talk that over a little bit and then make a decision,” Dr. Mark DiRocco, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, said.

Plus, until kids five to 11 are eligible for vaccines, doctors say we need to use the tools we have.

“The best thing we can do as parents is number one, get vaccinated ourselves and encourage other people out there to do so, and number two is eventually when the kids are able to get vaccinated, get them vaccinated as well,” Spangler said.

“What I would suggest to parents is to make sure that when they’re sending their kid to school, make sure they’re wearing a mask and they keep it on all day,” Curley said. “Make sure your child understands social distancing even if they’re not doing that formally in school.”

“Let’s stop arguing about it. Let’s put the masks on the kids. Let’s keep as many kids as healthy as possible and let’s have a full year of in-person learning,” DiRocco said.

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