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Pediatrician: 'We're one variant away' from worse COVID-19 outcomes for children

As the school year approaches, officials are looking to allay parents’ concerns about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, and fight back against rampant misinformation leading to vaccine hesitancy.
ODH Update 07212021
Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff during the state's coronavirus update on Wednesday, July 21, 2021.

COLUMBUS — COVID-19 is now a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

State health officials and pediatricians speaking to reporters Wednesday reiterated the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine for students and their parents.

Pediatrician Dr. Patty Manning-Courtney of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, said though the hospital has seen more than 12,000 children who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 yet weren’t sick enough to need hospitalization — though some have long-term symptoms — “we are one variant away from [COVID-19] being worse for kids.”

As the school year approaches, officials are looking to allay parents’ concerns about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, and fight back against rampant misinformation leading to vaccine hesitancy. Ohio over the past several weeks, Ohio has inched toward a 50 percent vaccination rate.

New COVID-19 variants, such as the highly contagious delta variant, mutate in the bodies of the unvaccinated. Officials on Wednesday said COVID-19 is now “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” 

As of July 3, the highly contagious delta variant was detected in more than 36 percent of all the sequenced COVID-19 cases, more than double since June, said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, Ohio Department of Health’s chief medical officer.

The state has seen a recent uptick in new cases — reporting nearly 750 new daily cases on Tuesday — which is driven by the rise of the delta variant.

“The vast majority of pediatric cases are adult exposures,” said Dr. Amy Edwards of University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. “If all the adults in a child’s life are vaccinated, that child’s risk of acquiring COVID is exceedingly low.”