(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Area pediatricians said parents of young children may want to think twice before letting them go maskless.
With news of the highly contagious Delta variant likely in Buchanan County coupled with the county's low vaccination rate of 20.7%, some parents of young kids may be concerned as protection for children against COVID-19 is minimal.
For kids under the age of 12, they're still not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccines.
“Parents, although they might be vaccinated, their children are not. So, we still need to be practicing some safe practices,” said Dana Kapp, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner for Peacock Pediatrics.
Pediatricians said with the rise of the Delta variant, responsible for half the new cases in Missouri and doubling every two weeks, they're worried kids will become the unprotected target of this spread.
“There's no great way to protect them other than good handwashing, avoiding being around someone who might be sick, as well as crowded places. There's a very good possibility that they will be the new vulnerable group," said Kapp.
In an interview with CBS This Morning, Dr. Facui said because the Delta variant is more contagious, children under 12 are more likely to catch the new strain first detected in India.
Dr. Fauci said, “It isn’t that they (children under 12) are more susceptible, but this virus is more transmissible. Therefore, children are more likely to get infected with this than the alpha variant.”
Local pediatricians said the new variant is appearing to show slightly different symptoms. Kapp said these are the signs parents should look at for, “It seems to be a little less coughing with this new variant. Fever, sore throat, runny nose and fatigue."
Kapp reminds parents if they're suspicious their child may be ill, primary care providers are still providing COVID tests and encourage parents to take advantage.
Health experts said while kids under 12 cannot get the shot, parents can still keep them safe by following safety practices such as avoiding large crowds, staying home if sick and continuing to wear masks in large crowds.
However, health professionals said the one thing going to keep children from catching the virus, is if those who can get vaccinated do.
“As much as some people don’t want to hear it, I think the key is vaccination. That’s our best chance at getting back to a pre-COVID state. That’s really the only known thing that’s going to help us get through this and get back to life as we knew before the pandemic,” said Kapp.
Kapp encourages parents and the community to utilize the St. Joseph Health Department's Facebook page for COVID-related information and kid safety tips.