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More Kansas City Kids Going to the Hospital With Omicron

Before the omicron variant drove up case numbers, the number of kids hospitalized for COVID-19 hadn’t reached past 30 patients. Now there are 34 kids hospitalized at Children Mercy.

(TNS) - Hospitals like Children’s Mercy are admitting more children than in previous phases of the pandemic.

Before the omicron variant drove up case numbers, the number of kids hospitalized for COVID-19 hadn’t reached past 30 patients, according to Children Mercy’s Chief Emergency Management Medical Officer Dr. Jennifer Watts. Now there are 34 kids hospitalized at Children Mercy.

“Being in the 30s and being in the 30s consistently is definitely a high number for us and definitely a record for us,” Watts said during a briefing on Wednesday.

With school back in session and flu season among us, navigating this wave of the pandemic can be especially challenging for parents looking to protect their children from COVID-19 infection.

Here’s the latest guidance from local doctors on what parents need to know about protecting their children from omicron:

When to call the pediatrician or go the emergency room

When children are experiencing symptoms similar to COVID-19, including common cold and upper respiratory symptoms like a runny nose, they should be tested for COVID-19, according to Watts.

She added that if your child is sick, they should stay home.

“If your child has an issue, if your child has a runny nose, if your child has a cough, if your child has a symptom that is not life threatening, then it’s okay to go ahead and call your pediatrician,” Watts said.

“I know that our pediatricians are also overwhelmed right now, with a lot of kids sick but...that’s your medical home. That’s what they’re there for, and they want to take care of you,” she said.

If someone is experiencing a life threatening emergency, they should call 911 or go to the emergency room.

Here’s a quick guide on when to know if it’s time to go to the emergency room, a list of testing sites around Kansas City and a way to see last second appointment openings at CVS.

“Our doors are always open,” Watts said of Children’s Mercy.

How many parents can come to the ER?

If you do go to the emergency room at Children’s Mercy, the hospital is requesting that one parent be with the child, but sometimes two parents are allowed.

“That is always on a case by case basis,” said Watts, “but we do stop it at two, no more than two parents are allowed in the room.”

The COVID-19 treatments for kids are limited

The way hospitals are treating kids battling COVID-19 has also evolved, according to Infectious Diseases Division Director Dr. Angela Myers.

Some monoclonal antibodies treatments that Children’s Mercy previously used to treat COVID-19 patients, including the ones used to treat children 12 years and under, are no longer effective against omicron, Myers said.

The hospital has a newer antibody treatment that has been shown to work against omicron for kids 12 and up, but doses are limited. Hospitals like Children’s Mercy receive doses from a state-issued allocation on a weekly basis.

“We do have a few doses of the newer monoclonal antibody that is effective against omicron, but that is really only under authorization for kids 12 and above and who weigh 40 or more kilos and also have a significant risk factor for severe disease,” Myers said.

She said Children’s Mercy is actively scheduling infusion appointments for kids who meet that criteria.

Antiviral pills will also be used for outpatients depending on the case. Since younger children may not know how to swallow a pill, antiviral pills will be prescribed mainly to older kids, Myers said.

What about kids under 5?

Children who are under 5 and still unable to receive the vaccine should continue to wear masks when at daycare centers or in public, according to Myers. She added that since children under 5 are unvaccinated, it is “vitally important” that older family members and other caregivers are vaccinated.

“If you’re vaccinated and boosted, your ability to spread disease to that young child who is unable to be vaccinated is greatly diminished,” she said. “If you do get infected, your period of infectivity is diminished if you’re fully vaccinated.”

Other ways to protect younger children include washing hands frequently, avoiding crowds and making sure to keep children home when they are feeling sick.

“All of those things are still really important,” she said. “I know that parents are concerned, I know that they are anxious to be able to get their young children vaccinated. We’re anxious for it too.”

Myers said that doctors are hopeful that younger children will be able to receive the vaccine this spring.

School and extracurricular activities

With school back in session, there are more opportunities for students to come in contact with COVID-19. Watts said that she appreciates schools that have enforced masking measures.

“I think it does certainly help,” she said. “We know as pediatricians that a vital piece to pediatric well being is for the kids to stay in school.”

As for after-school activities, parents and their children should consider a number of factors when deciding what’s best for their family. Myers advises that activities should be outdoors as much as possible. Students should continue to wear masks when they are indoors or outdoors and around a lot of people.

“If you’ve got a teenager who is outside playing soccer with their team and is fully vaccinated or boosted...versus an unvaccinated kid who’s on the rustling squad and nobody’s masking,” Myers said. “Make an educated decision on what your risk tolerance is.”

“Nothing that we do is going to be risk free.”

To see which school’s in the Kansas City Metro Area have mask mandates in place, check out this list.

Do you have any other questions about this latest wave of COVID-19 in Kansas City? Ask us at or with the form below.


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