MSDH corrects pediatric ICU case report as doctors see serious illness in young people

Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 4:57 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - We’re learning more about the children in the ICU with COVID-19 in Mississippi. They include two patients on life support, and they range from vaccine-eligible and non eligible ages.

“It’s very obvious people in our ICUs are younger,” Baptist Memorial Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Steve Threlkeld said.

Threlkeld said the average age in the ICU at local hospitals is averaging about 15 years younger than pre vaccine times. The effects of a surge in cases is trickling down to the community’s youngest, the children, especially those 11 and under who have no choice but to be unvaccinated from COVID-19.

“You’re dealing with a lower age population that is not protected by vaccine then dovetail that with the fact as a society we kind of move past this thing with our behavior,” Threlkeld said.

After reporting 12 children were in the ICU, Mississippi Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs corrected the number. He said, in fact, seven children are in the ICU and two are on ventilators. Dobbs said the discrepancy came from a reporting error from one of the hospitals.

Providing some context to the report, Dobbs said the ages of those children range from under one year old to 17 years old. The Mississippi Department of Health has not released if any of the children are vaccinated or have underlying health conditions.

Now, 80 percent of tests sequenced in Mississippi are the delta strain which has shown some resistance to the vaccine. The state’s health department has recommended people who are immunocompromised get an antibody test and ask their doctor about a booster shot if already vaccinated.

Threlkeld said he would consider a third shot for his patients on a case by case basis.

“I do think it’s a low risk to get a third vaccine,” Threlkeld said. “There have been no reported problems of doing that. It’s very hard when the CDC and the state and local health departments and CDC haven’t made any categorical recommendation,” Threlkeld said.

The Tennessee Department of Health has said it does not track current pediatric hospitalizations of COVID-19. The Arkansas Department of Health could not provide current numbers, but said since the pandemic began more than 400 children have been hospitalized, 60 to the ICU.

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