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Seattle doctor urges youth to get COVID-19 vaccine before school starts

A Seattle doctor said the goal is to keep students at school, and one way to do that is for parents to get their kids vaccinated.

SEATTLE — Doctors at Kaiser Permanente Washington are making a final plea to parents to get their kids vaccinated against COVID-19 as they return to in-person learning amid rising cases of the delta variant.

Dr. Susanna Block, a pediatric hospitalist at Kaiser Permanente in Seattle, said 20% of COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks have been children.

"Unfortunately, we're not where we wished we would be during the pandemic,” said Block. “We've certainly seen an increase in COVID cases, also among children."

To add to Block’s concern, we are also entering the annual flu season.

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"It's important every year, but it's really important this year that everybody is immunized against influenza. That's babies six months and up,” explained Block. “The last thing we want to see is influenza and COVID-19 together.”

While long-term effects of the delta variant are still unknown, doctors do know how transmissible the virus is. Kids age 10 and older have similar COVID-19 symptoms to adults, which can include body aches and loss of taste and smell.

But Block said that is different for kids under 10. Their symptoms can include high fever, a runny nose and cough. Block worried the symptoms could be confusing for parents to tell the difference between the common cold and COVID-19.

She said while going back to school is an exciting time of year, the goal now should be to keep kids in school.

“The kids have really suffered, you know, they're not having the educational opportunities,” said Block. “It's causing stress. We've seen an increase in anxiety and depression and suicidal thoughts. I mean, it's important to get our kids back in school, but we have to do it safely."

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