Health officials concerned over variant cases and the impact on children

COVID variants and children

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Coronavirus cases are slowly rising across the state again. Officials said they have seen a 1% increase in just the last two weeks, and one reason may be the more contagious COVID-19 variants circulating.

“Those variants are much more transmissible person to person,” UAB infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Saag said. “They can also cause more disease, more symptomatic infection. The variants are a concern for adults, but they are also a concern for children.”

186 U.K. variant cases have been confirmed across the state, along with two cases of the variant from South Africa. Saag said because they spread more easily, we could start to see more cases in children.

“Children coming together like they do, playing, maybe going to camp, attending school until the end of the year, we want to monitor kids.”

Saag said the best way to protect children from variant strains is adults protecting themselves.

“Adults getting vaccinated, that prevents bringing the virus home to the children significantly,” he said.

Saag doesn’t think we will have to wait much longer before vaccinations expand.

“We are going to be having data come out in the next several weeks on vaccinating children between 11-16 years of ages,” he said. “It is looking very good. I think within a month, that will be available for children over the age of 11.”

He said vaccine approval for children will come in phases, with the youngest age groups being approved last.

“I think by the time kids are going back to school in the fall, that we will have a lot of information about the use of these vaccines in children, and we will actually be vaccinating children as they return to school,” Saag said.

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