Stormont Vail sees abnormally high rate of children hospitalized with respiratory illnesses, COVID-19

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 3:39 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - An abnormally high rate of kids is being hospitalized with respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, in Stormont Vail Health’s pediatric unit.

As COVID-19 continues to plague Shawnee Co., Stormont Vail Health says it continues to see high levels of pediatric patients with respiratory illness including RSV, rhinovirus and COVID-19.

This is the earliest in the year Alison Wilson, Administrative Director for Pediatrics and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, said she has seen the respiratory season produce such high illnesses in children in the past several years.

According to Stormont Vail, hospitals throughout the nation are seeing higher than normal numbers of kids with respiratory illnesses. It said RSV and other infections typically happen during late fall, winter and early spring.

In 2020, the health network said residents adhered to COVID-19 pandemic protocols such as the usage of face masks and social distancing, so RSV and influenza levels were low. Health officials have said they are concerned this year with the return of children to the classroom and those under 12 being unvaccinated on top of varied face mask requirements for schools.

According to the health network, children under the age of 12 are still not eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer announced on Monday that the company believes its vaccine is safe for kids ages 5 to 11. However, the vaccine for that age group still needs to be submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization. Trial results for children under the age of 5 are expected later in the year.

To protect unvaccinated family members, including kids that cannot be vaccinated yet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following measures:

  • Family members 12 and older who can be vaccinated should do so.
  • Everyone in the family over the age of 2 should wear a face mask indoors in public places.
  • Do not put a mask on children younger than 2 years old.

Currently, Stormont Vail said it has 43 inpatients, adult and child, that are COVID-19 positive and 81% of those are individuals that are unvaccinated. It said it has also seen two new deaths and five new discharges. It said it has 63 COVID-positive patients in its outpatient Enhanced Primary Care program. It said the percent positive for the past seven days is at nearly 11% and the percentage of overall cases, hospitalized or not, that are in unvaccinated residents is 78%.

As of Monday, Sept. 20, Stormont Vail said it has administered 88,966 COVID-19 vaccines, which include first and second doses.

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