Kentucky Children’s Hospital seeing surge in COVID-19 patients

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 11:49 AM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - COVID-19 cases in children remain at higher rates even as the state is beginning to see a downward trend.

Doctors with Kentucky Children’s Hospital in Lexington say they’re in the middle of a big surge, seeing six times more critically ill patients than they have during any time of the pandemic.

Most of the patients are 12 or older. All are not vaccinated.

The Kentucky Children’s Hospital is leading the way in the fight against COVID-19 in young patients. Monday morning, doctors talked about treatments for children and when a vaccine for children may be available.

“This is the single most effective tool that we have to prevent, not only infection but also severe, severe and critical COVID illness,” said Dr. Sean McTigue, medical director for pediatric infection prevention.

Dr. McTigue explains Pfizer’s seeking FDA approval for children 5 to 11 to get the shot. He says they’ll meet at the end of the month to review that request. It’ll likely be available in November.

The University of Kentucky is also part of a national trial to test the safety and effectiveness of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in younger children. For the current phase of the study, researchers are enrolling children aged 6 months to under two years of age into the study beginning at the end of October.

For kids who already have the virus, there’s another tool to keep them out of the hospital - monoclonal antibody treatment.

According to Dr. McTigue, it mimics the body’s natural response to the virus, reducing severe symptoms.

“It’s been very successful from the standpoint that things have been running extremely smoothly,” Dr. McTigue said. “The patients that we’ve brought through have all come in and out with no problems or infusions have gone very well. Where I think we need to improve is we really need to get the word out about how important this therapy is.”

Who’s eligible for this treatment? Patients, ages 12-17, who test positive for COVID or have had a known exposure, are eligible to receive infusions if they have high-risk factors.

Dr. McTigue says the most common underlying condition in children is obesity. He says there’s no waitlist for monoclonal antibody treatment. Often, children referred can be seen that day.

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