Delta variant puts kids at higher risk than previous COVID-19 strains, doctors say

The new variant is more contagious and more severe for adults and children

SAN ANTONIO – Doctors say parents may have a false sense of confidence about the COVID-19 Delta variant.

Dr. Elumalai Appachi, pediatrician-in-chief with the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, said he’s seeing an increase in adolescents and children who are eligible for the vaccine ending up in the ER and ICU, more than during previous surges.

“Now we are seeing healthy children coming in with serious COVID-19 illness who are not vaccinated,” Appachi said.

Dr. Tess Barton, associate professor of pediatric infectious diseases at UT Health SA, said the new variant is more contagious and more severe for adults and children.

“Children still generally are having better outcomes and less severe than adults. However, we are seeing children being hospitalized with this variant,” Barton said. “I’ve seen several kids with COVID-19 in the hospital in the past few weeks, and almost universally they were from unvaccinated families.”

What should parents do to protect their children, especially those who cannot be vaccinated?

Dr. Barton says be smart about the activities you choose.

“It’s being put upon us to use personal responsibility to try to stop the spread of this virus,” he said. “Does your activity involve being around other people who are not in your household? And if it is, then you should be wearing a mask because you don’t know what sort of risk, what sort of risk-taking that other people have been doing.”

While kids gear up for school, doctors say encourage children to wear masks to minimize their risks.

Barton says take precautions, and keep children home if they have any symptoms of being unwell, and get them tested for COVID-19.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says children over 2-years of age should wear a mask while in school.

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Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

Chandler Watson is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Originally from the Houston area, he graduated from Texas State University in 2018 with a bachelor’s of science in Mass Communication. Chandler is no stranger to San Antonio, as he’s worked here for 3 years prior to joining KSAT. He’s excited to bring you the stories of our community!