North Texas hospitals seeing increase in COVID-19 cases among children

COVID-19 cases are on the rise among children.

One North Texas hospital said the rate of kids testing positive has more than doubled, and it appears the rollout of new vaccines to kids 5 and under isn't really taking off.

North Texas doctors are pointing to that rise in cases, saying now is the time to consider getting your child vaccinated if you haven’t already.

"We're seeing a small but steady increase in the number of cases, the number of hospitalizations, and that's being seen also in other parts of the country," said Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, Chief of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Health.

Cook Children’s said its seven-day average positivity rate has gone from 3.5% on May 5, to 8.4% on June 5, to 21.6% Wednesday.

Children’s Health in Dallas has seen a rise too.

"Certainly nothing close to what we saw with the Delta wave, with the initial Omicron wave, but we're seeing increased numbers. And to me, that's a warning sign," Dr. Kahn said.

Researchers said the rise in cases coincides with the spread of omicron subvariants, particularly one called BA.5.

"So it's something that's gotten everyone's attention as the rise is not slowed or stopped yet," said Dr. Holt Oliver, with Parkland Center For Clinical Innovation. "And that's where we are right now, just paying close attention to the rise and making sure our hospital systems in the county are prepared."

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Doctors still say the best way to protect yourself is getting vaccinated, but the vaccination rate for the youngest children is off to a slow start.

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey in April found that just one in five parents of children under the age of 5 planned to get their child vaccinated right away.

And the White House said Thursday nearly 300,000 children in the age group received shots in the two weeks since they became available.

That's only 2% of the eligible population.

"I mean, I still think that there's a lot of hesitancy out there, to some extent understandable," Dr. Kahn said. "But what we're observing now is an increase in the number of cases. And it just goes to show you that it's not going away, that the pandemic is not over."

Dr. Kahn said with vaccines taking time to build immunity, it’s important for parents not to wait.

"We don't have to look back too far to see some lessons that we learned. You know, in November, the end of November, we first heard about the Omicron variant. Within six to eight weeks, it was predominant," he explained. "We were seeing more cases of children being hospitalized than any at any time during the pandemic. That just shows how quickly things can change."

Cook Children’s said, as of Wednesday, it had one COVID-19 patient in the ICU and two in non-ICU beds.

That is still far off from when they were around 70 COVID-19 patients in January.