Valley Children’s remains very busy: ‘Unusual for this time of the year’

CBS47 News

FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – The only children’s hospital in the Central Valley remains busy as they continue to see patients with COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses, said Dr. Nael Mhaissen, the medical director for infectious disease and infection prevention at Valley Children’s Hospital, on Monday.

“Which is very unusual for this time of the year. Typically, the summertime, the beginning of the fall, is the light season for us, or the light time of the year for us. This isn’t the case now,” Mhaissen said.

Mhaissen said the numbers fluctuate from one week to another, but still, they’re seeing a high volume of patients.

“We’re continuing to see this high activity level of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses, such as [Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)]. We’re also starting to see some cases of influenza,” Mhaissen added.

Per Valley Children’s latest numbers, during the week of Sept. 6, the hospital saw a 6.4% COVID-19 positivity rate.

And school districts in the Valley have continued to report cases in their classrooms.

During this surge, Mhaissen said children have been more affected than in previous surges.

“The highest level of disease activity is actually being seen in children who are 18 and younger. This was never the case in prior surges, prior peaks of this pandemic,” Mhaissen added.

Thankfully, Mhaissen said symptoms are still mild or moderate in kids, but still, there are some patients that require hospitalization.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children represented 28.9% of the weekly reported cases in the week of Sept. 2 to Sept. 9 in the U.S.

And some much anticipated news was announced by Pfizer Monday morning.

In a release, Pfizer announced results from their trial of the COVID-19 vaccine in children 5 to 11 years of age. They said the vaccine was “safe, well-tolerated and showed robust neutralizing antibody responses.”

“I think it’s very good news, especially now with the peak of the COVID cases with how the Delta Variant is affecting children on a much higher level than other variants did. I think this is very exciting. I know many parents, including myself, are waiting to get the authorization from the FDA for the vaccine so they can get their children protected, give them that extra boost of protection,” Mhaissen said.

The trial included more than 2,000 kids, and they received a smaller dose than those 12 years old and older.

“That’s not unusual. That’s something very, very common in the field of medicine. The doses for medications, for vaccines many times are dependent on the age or the weight of the person receiving the medication or the vaccine,” Mhaissen said.

Pfizer in the release said they plan on submitting the data to the FDA for emergency use authorization as soon as possible. Results in children under 5 years old are expected as soon as later this year.

In the meantime, children 12 and older are eligible for the vaccine now.

“The children 12 and above that are getting admitted because of COVID, majority of them, almost all of them here at Valley Children’s, did not get the vaccine, even though they were eligible for it,” Mhaissen said.

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