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Kentucky pediatricians remind parents of severe disease risks associated with COVID-19

Corinne Boyer, WEKU

In recent weeks, COVID-19 cases in Kentucky have continued to decline, but a new subvariant of COVID-19 has been found in the commonwealth. Regardless of the variant, Dr. Kristina Bryant wants parents to understand that unvaccinated children are at risk of severe illness.

Bryant is a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Norton Children’s hospital. She said COVID-19 infections in kids can lead to multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), which can be life threatening.

“The good news is that vaccination can protect kids from infection, from hospitalization, it can protect most kids from developing multisystem inflammatory syndrome,” Bryant said. “Some families don’t know that there are kids who die from covid 19 pandemic.”

Multisystem inflammatory disease in children can be life threatening as it causes the heart, lungs, brain, skin, gastrointestinal organs or eyes to become inflamed. Almost all cases occur in children who are unvaccinated.

Bryant said parents may assume COVID-19 infections are generally mild and may be still waiting to vaccinate their children.

“They need to know about this serious complication, and they also, I think, need the information that vaccinated children by and large don’t develop this complication,” Bryant said.

With news of Moderna preparing to seek authorization for its COVID-19 vaccination in children under five in the coming weeks, Bryant said many parents also ask when their young children will be able to get the shot.

“We had record number of hospitalizations of kids during the omicron surge. Children less than 5 years of age were particularly affected,” she said.

With the threat of the BA.2 subvariant spreading quickly, Bryant recommends that people still wear masks in large, crowded spaces.

“Sure numbers are down of covid in Kentucky right now, and that’s great for all of us. But BA.2 is a very contagious variant.”