COVID is putting kids in the hospital. Here’s how we can prevent that.

SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in Saint Louis, where I work, is full. We are full in ways that we seldom are even in winter. We are full in ways that we never are during the summer. We are creating an extra inpatient team of doctors and nurse practitioners because we have so many kids in the hospital. And this is happening at children’s hospitals all over the country. Why? COVID has a lot to do with it.

Kids under 12 can’t yet get vaccinated against COVID. And even once they’re able to, it will take weeks for them to build up their immunity. This delta variant has changed everything. As Dr. Sally Goza, former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told CNN, “This is not last year’s COVID. This one is worse, and our children are the ones that are going to be affected by it the most.”

You can help. Get vaccinated. Make sure that everyone in your household age 12 and over is vaccinated. Create a zone of protection around your children to reduce their exposure to the virus.

Wear your mask. Encourage your kids to wear their masks. Buy them new masks that they can show off to their friends.

Above all, have a positive attitude about masks. While it may sometimes be hard to believe when your kid who won’t go to bed on time or clean their room, kids look up to their parents, and if you tell them that masks are good, they will wear them. Tell them that wearing their mask helps them and helps their friends to stay healthy. Kids love to do things that help other kids.

For the love of your children, I know you’ll do all you can to protect them. Wear your mask. Have your children wear their masks. And above all, get vaccinated.

The life you save may be your child’s.

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Ken Haller

Pediatrician, Educator, Singer, Writer, Advocate, Actor, Improviser. Views are my own, not those of any institution where I’m employed.