NIH Director: Young kids getting sick, some dying, from delta variant

Dr. Francis Collins said the best defense is masking up ask children head back to classroom
NIH Director: Young kids getting sick, some dying, from delta variant
Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 2:17 PM MST|Updated: Aug. 16, 2021 at 2:32 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Pediatricians across southern Arizona are seeing more kids fall ill with COVID-19.

That’s something not seen in large numbers in the previous 18 months of the pandemic.

Data from the Arizona Department of Health Services shows the delta variant is getting kids between and 5 and 10-year-olds sick.

“Some really are getting quite ill in the hospital, in intensive care units, and sadly we are seeing kids die from this,” said Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health.

Collins called the variant a game-changer across the board, especially in children.

“Anybody that’s tried to tell you don’t worry about the kids they handle it fine, most of them do, but not all,” Collins said.

Kids under 12 years old can’t get vaccinated because none have been approved for the age group yet. Collins said the best defense as unvaccinated kids head back to school is masking up.

“If we’re going to keep kids safe, that’s what it’s going to take,” he said.

Collins disagrees with the ban on mask mandates put in place in Arizona and across the country.

“I think it’s local area school boards and mayors that need to be looking at this because it’s different across the state of Arizona and the country,” he said. “To have this be in the hands of those closest to the action makes a lot of sense.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging the FDA to approve the vaccine for kids under 12. Collins said while getting shots in arms is critical, the data-driven, deliberate process happening now is important.

“Kids are not just scaled-down versions of adults,” he said. “You have to be really thoughtful. I don’t want anyone to look at this when we approve the vaccines for kids and say it was rushed because that won’t help either.”

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