Virus Outbreak Too Young for Vaccines
Heather Cimellaro hugs her three-year-old son Charlie while his twin brother, Milo, jumps on a couch at their house, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022, in Auburn, Maine. Heather Cimellaro is one of parents concerned about the omicron surge and the issue it’s providing for families with children too young to be vaccinated. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Afternoons with Grammy are always fun. Birthday celebrations. At the park, I ran across some other toddlers. Parents of toddlers who are too young to be vaccinated are faced with difficult decisions as a COVID-19 outbreak fueled by an omicron strain makes every meeting look like a potentially dangerous one.
Erin Connolly, a company owner in Maine, says the most difficult decision she’s ever had to make included Madeleine, her 3-year-old daughter, and Connolly’s mother, who looks after Madeleine on the one day a week when she isn’t in preschool.
Creating cookies, going to the library, or simply hanging out are all activities that are enjoyed during this time. However, the lively little girl refuses to wear a mask, and with the highly contagious strain spreading at an alarming rate, Connolly says she is concerned about how long this will be able to go on “and when does it feel too hazardous.”
Connolly, of West Bath, said she is more concerned about the impact illness and separation will have on Madeleine and her 6-year-old son who has been vaccinated than she is about the virus itself. She is, however, anxious about the possibility of her immunised parents suffering a breakthrough disease.
Although health professionals believe that omicron tends to produce less severe sickness and result in fewer hospitalizations, the rapid spread of the virus implies that it is significantly more contagious than other versions. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 718,000 COVID cases were recorded on Tuesday. Omicron is currently responsible for more than 90 percent of cases in the United States, a staggering increase from less than 10 percent just two weeks earlier.
According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, who spoke at a White House briefing on Wednesday, “the sheer volume of illnesses due to its remarkable transmissibility would mean that many more children will become sick.”
According to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, the number of COVID cases among children and teenagers in the United States nearly doubled in the last two weeks of December, reaching approximately 326,000 in the final week alone.
The omicron-fueled increase has also resulted in a record number of children being admitted to hospitals: During the week of December 27, 2021, to January 2, 2022, an average of 672 children aged 17 and younger were admitted to hospitals each day with the coronavirus, which was more than double the number hospitalised during the preceding week of December 27, 2021. Children, on the other hand, continue to constitute a minor proportion of those admitted to hospitals.