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I-TEAM: Analyzing local pediatric COVID-19 admission trends as variant spreads

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – So how important is it for your child to get vaccinated against COVID? What kind of impacts are we seeing locally? Our I-Team requested admissions records for the Children’s Hospital of Georgia every month since the pandemic began. (WRDW) These numbers represent kids under 18 hospitalized with COVID. You can see early in the pandemic the most kids we ever saw admitted at once was around the previous peak back in January and February, then around July the delta variant started to emerge, and by August as school started back our Children’s Hospital admitted 35 kids in a month. Nearly triple the numbers we saw in our previous peak.

Our I-Team spoke with an 11-year-old counting down the days until his 12th birthday or for the Pfizer shot to be approved for younger kids, whichever comes first.

You can tell by the clicks—

Ethan Ray is your average 11-year-old boy. He loves video games and football. His favorite team is Georgia. But unlike most kids his age, he isn’t asking for a big party or a new gaming system for his 12th birthday he’s asking for a shot.

“I decided to get vaccinated around my birthday because that’s when I can get it. I want to stay safe from the virus,” said Ethan.

And he’s not alone. For some kids his age it’s become an unofficial right of passage. Our I-Team found in the past month since school started, 952 more kids aged 12 to 19 in Richmond County have gotten the vaccine. In Columbia County 841 more kids.

“Lately the conversation has been a lot of his friends looking forward to their birthday, so I think he’s pretty adamant that he’ll get it right on his birthday,” said Dr. Chadburn Ray, Director of Perinatal Service at AU, OBGYN.

Ethan’s parents are both doctors at Augusta University. Ray is the Chief of Perinatal Services and treats pregnant mothers fighting COVID. And Ethan has heard what they’re dealing with for months.

“I’ve heard COVIDs really dangerous. I’ve seen it be really dangerous. A lot of people have been in the hospital too, so I just want to stay safe from that,” he said.

“We’re seeing folks regret not getting a vaccine. We’re seeing some folks who are COVID deniers who are getting a real wake-up call as themselves or their loved ones are sick,” said Ray.

But despite how his parent feel they decided to leave the choice up to Ethan.

“They can process this information, make an informed decision, and we allowed them to make that decision for themselves. I think it’s pretty cool that a kid can make a decision about keeping themselves safe and others safe,” said Ray.

“I’d rather be sick for a day after getting the vaccine than be sick for a while getting COVID,” said Ethan.The I-Team found vaccine hesitancy for teenagers is slightly easing. A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found nationwide nearly half of all parents are willing to get their teens vaccinated. 23 percent taking a wait […]

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