Mississippi pediatric experts advices mask, vaccinations for in-person schooling

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JACKSON, Miss. (BRPROUD)- The University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) pediatric experts is urging parents to take precautions as the new school year begins—due to recent surges in COVID-19 and the Omicron variant spikes across the U.S.

Currently 19 children have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are hospitalized in the intensive care unit at UMMC, which is also Mississippi’s only hospital for children and teens.

“Most children admitted to the hospital are unvaccinated, or are younger than five years old and are not eligible,” said UMMC Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases April Palmer.

As school return some parents maybe undecided about giving their children the vaccine even if they are eligible.

After recent surges over the holidays; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorized, COVID-19 booster shots for ages 12 to 15. Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations are also available for children ages 5 to 11 at a lower dose. 

“In the past two weeks, the number of children hospitalized at Children’s of Mississippi because of COVID-19 has tripled,” said Dr. Mary Taylor, Suzan B. Thames Chair and professor of pediatrics. “We know the importance of in-person learning for children and want schools to be open safely. We encourage parents to have their children wear face masks when in school or in public and to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19.”

“Parents should encourage their children ages two and older to wear face masks when in school, day care or in public, said Dr. Anita Henderson, president of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a pediatrician at the Hattiesburg Clinic.”

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