Riley Hospital for Children sees increase of kids to ER with COVID-19

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Riley Hospital for Children is seeing an increase in kids with coronavirus in their emergency room.

The increase coincides with the surge of the delta variant of COVID-19.

More than 80-90% of COVID-19 infections in Indiana are now caused by the delta variant, according to Dr. John Christenson, professor of clinical pediatrics at the Ryan White Center for Pediatric Infectious Disease and global health and medical director of infection prevention at Riley Hospital for Children. 

Kids are not immune to COVID-19, and those under 12 are not yet eligible for the vaccine.

Christenson told News 8 that Riley is seeing more kids in its emergency room.

“In the last few days, the number of cases that have shown up in the ER has picked up significantly, compared to January,” Christenson said.

He said the good news is that the majority don’t get admitted to the hospital but just get seen in the ER and get sent home.

“The majority are unvaccinated children under 12 years of age although we see the occasional older child that still hasn’t been vaccinated. But the majority are younger ones, so still in that group that have not been vaccinated.”

“Yeah, that’s scary,” parent Alyssa Hay told News 8.

A mother of two young children, Hay says she is well aware of the delta variant of the coronavirus.

“I’m concerned, yeah we kind of keep to ourselves. Or just come to the playground, and we, like, know the kids that are here,” Hay said.

She and her husband are vaccinated, and they do all they can to keep their kids safe.

“My daughter wears a mask whenever we go to indoor places. She’s pretty good about it,” Hay said.

But not every kid is good about it. Christenson talked about the reasons behind the surge in cases in kids.

“It’s multifactorial,” Christenson said. “One, you have in children an unvaccinated community. Even those over 12, the majority of them are still not vaccinated. But under 12, they are completely unvaccinated, so they depend on being protected by the people that surround them, by using masks and maintaining social distancing. We know that a lot of people have relaxed that. They’re not using masks, they’re socializing more. They’re going to large gatherings.”

Christenson said there are things parents can do right now to protect their children if they are not old enough to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We know there are some things that do work to prevent infection: mask use, keeping social distancing, avoiding large crowds. Especially large crowds of people you don’t know who they are. Their parents and other family members being vaccinated will prevent bringing the virus home and infecting the children.”

Other parents say they’re not too concerned.

“I think if you just keep clean and keep sanitary, things will just work out naturally,” said Chester Thomas, an Indianapolis parent.

Christenson also urges people with children 12 and older to get them vaccinated. He said anybody who can get the vaccine should be vaccinated.