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ST. LOUIS – A combination of factors could be contributing to area hospitals seeing a larger percentage of younger patients.  

Dr. Rachel Charney, pediatric emergency room physician and medical director for disaster preparedness at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, points to two likely reasons.   

“Since our children are the ones that have the lowest level of vaccination, especially since our kids under 12 aren’t eligible yet, we’re starting to see a larger and larger portion of our COVID cases in our kids,” she said.

Charney believes the increase could also be attributed to the resumption of more in-person activities.   

“We’re starting to see a larger and larger portion of our COVID cases in our kids,” she said. “It used to be somewhere in the range of 10-12 percent, now it’s about a quarter of the cases are pediatric across the country.” 

Dr. Jason Newland, pediatric infectious disease physician at Washington University and St. Louis Children’s Hospital, encourages everyone to do what they can to disrupt the spread of the virus.  

He points to growing concerns over the recent surge involving a more contagious strain of the virus known as the Delta variant.    

“We’ve already started to see the surge,” Newland said. “We have to do more.” 

He encourages everyone to remember social distancing, mask-wearing, and hand washing. Newland said a lot of pain and suffering can be avoided if vaccination rates increase. The vaccination age now begins at 12. 

“Having our kids vaccinated is better for all of us and will keep us safer and will help us get through this pandemic,” Newland said.  

He said the vaccine has proven to be both safe and effective.