DALLAS - Parkland Hospital says a surge in the COVID-19 positivity rate is directly related to kids going back to school.
The hospital’s positivity rate has spiked from 20% one week ago to 30%. It says kids are driving the increase.
Dr. Joseph Chang is Chief Medical Officer for Parkland Health. He says the increase is only in kids. In that age group, case numbers have doubled.
"Two weeks ago, we saw the positivity rate go below 20%. We hadn't seen that in a month and a half. We were all very excited about that, but then last week that number jumped up well above 30%," he said. "In every age demographic, the number has gone down. There is only one where it is going up, and that is 17 and under."
Dr. Chang says in addition to kids going back to school, low vaccination rates are to blame.
"It’s no coincidence this is the least vaccinated age group, and that’s why it is so important for parents to get kids vaccinated," he said.
The Texas Department of Health and Human Services says fewer than two out of every 100 kids under 5 are vaccinated.
"Attention to COVID has gone down," Dr. Chang said. "In some ways, that is good. But it can hurt us with complacency because their kids are still getting sick."
Texas is receiving hundreds of thousands of doses of the new bivalent boosters, which protect against variants. However, they are only authorized for people 12 and up.
"The first vaccines were all the original form of the virus," Chang said.
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Dr. Chang says the vaccine for 12 and under is still effective at preventing severe illness in kids.
"Almost no one who is vaccinated has to go to the hospital," he said.
For those feeling hesitant or complacent about signing up for another vaccine, Dr. Chang offers some advice.
"Some of my friends say this is like the survivable flu. There is no need to get vaccinated. I'm here to tell you that you should get vaccinated for the flu," he said. "You don't know which of the complications may be the one you get."
Experts say if COVID-19 cases increase in your kid’s classroom, you can still consider masking your child until cases drop, especially if they will be around grandparents or others who are vulnerable.