LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — There was a time, before vaccinations when the COVID-19 virus seemed as if it would spare the youngest members of our population. But those days are gone.
As Lexington pediatrician Dr. Beth Hawse once explained, the kids became the most viable “host” for the virus once the adult population started receiving the vaccine. Hawse’s comments ring very true today, as we heard from Kentucky Children’s Hospital’s chief medical officer as their beds are filling up.
“In the last week, our numbers have really started to climb again for pediatric hospitalizations,” said Dr. Lindsay Ragsdale, from Kentucky Children’s Hospital. “We do worry, based on other states’ experience, that Omicron can affect children,” she continued.
Ragsdale, who is recommending face coverings as students return to school from winter break, was one of four doctors from four of Lexington’s leading health care providers to join a zoom conference on Tuesday to discuss the impact of the spread this variant is having across central Kentucky.
It’s been such a burden on Baptist Health that the facility is postponing certain elective procedures effective Wednesday.
“If at this point you’re not vaccinated, especially if you have risk factors like obesity, diabetes, a heart condition, or kidney disorder, your risk of getting very sick is still high,” said Dr. David Dougherty of Baptist Health.
There’s great concern that the spread of Omicron hasn’t yet peaked, and between now and whenever we do reach that peak, it’ll stress the health care system given how easily transmissible the virus mutation is proving to be at this time. The symptoms can be debilitating if you haven’t been vaccinated and very minor if you have been inoculated. Newborns to age 5 aren’t eligible for the vaccine, and children ages 5-11 are only just beginning the process of being fully protected.
“We have seen this in our ICU where they’ve needed additional support. They can’t breathe on their own and need a ventilator to breathe for them,” Dr. Ragsdale said.
Our health care workers have had to deal with so much sadness since the early spring of 2020, but perhaps nothing is more heartbreaking than hearing someone begging for the vaccine before being intubated. Of course, it’s too late by then.
“We hear that every day,” said Dr. Ashley Montgomery-Yates of UK Health Care. “What I try to tell them (patients) is, ‘those choices are already made.’ Let’s try to focus on what your family can do in your community. To try to encourage their family to take this knowledge and educate their neighbors.”
Montgomery-Yates said that people of all ages are still susceptible to the worst that this virus can offer.
“We’re burying people every day in their 30s, 40s, 50s from a virus that’s pretty preventable with a vaccine,” she bluntly stated.