“Please be safe and if you are 12 or older –– please protect yourself,” Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs tweeted Tuesday (July 13) as COVID-19 cases in the state rise.
At least seven children are among 98 people currently in intensive care units in Mississippi. According to CNN, COVID-19 hospitalizations in Mississippi have doubled since July 4, leaving at least 283 people hospitalized. The current surge, however, is still down 80% compared to the state’s peak at the beginning of the year, state data shows.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, young children can become infected with COVID-19 and spread the virus to others, though data suggests they’re less likely than older people to experience severe effects from coronavirus. Still, serious illness from COVID-19 is possible in young people.
“We’ve had infants as small as 6 to 8 months old up to the teenage years,” Dr. Alan Jones, Associate Vice Chancellor for Clinical Affairs at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, told CNN.
“Many of them are not ICU-level patients and are just patients in the hospital on a regular floor, but we have seen an increase in both ICU patients as well as patients on the regular floor,” Jones said Wednesday (July 14). He noted that some of the child patients being hospitalized don’t have any underlying medical conditions.
“I think that parents would like to have a situation where their children are as protected as they can be, but that requires everybody to do their part, wear masks when appropriate and get vaccinated,” Jones said.
The CDC reported that children under the age of 18 make up 12.5% of all US COVID-19 cases. Children under the age of 12 are not currently eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines in the US.
Mississippi has the lowest vaccination rate in the nation, with 44% of people eligible for the vaccine having received at least one of the doses. Dobbs said on Twitter that the majority of the state’s deaths are among those who are unvaccinated.
In states where at least half of residents are vaccinated, new COVID-19 cases have averaged about a third of states with low vaccination rates, according to a CNN analysis.
“We really need to get more people vaccinated, because that’s the solution,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday (July 12) on CBS This Morning. “This virus will, in fact, be protected against by the vaccine.”