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For parents of unvaccinated kids, worsening delta variant brings alarm, questions

Hayley Smith and Deborah Netburn, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Parenting News

LOS ANGELES — New evidence about the delta variant’s ability to infect and spread even among those who are fully vaccinated has been particularly alarming for parents of young children who are still not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Many parents who thought their children faced limited risks of getting the coronavirus are now reassessing their stance. Health experts said parents should be extra careful with the highly contagious variant, which is causing infection spikes in Los Angeles County and many other parts of the country.

But several also stressed that it’s important to keep the risks in context, adding that children could still go back to school with proper precautions.

“Children need to be in school,” said Julie Swann, a health systems engineer at North Carolina State University. “Those of us who have experienced last year, we know it.”

Dr. Katherine Williamson, a pediatrician in Orange County, said she has seen an increase in coronavirus cases among young patients in recent weeks, as well as an uptick in parents who are vaccinating eligible children — both of which she attributed to the rise of the delta variant.

“Parents should be making sure that they’re doing everything they can to keep their kids safe when they have an unvaccinated child in their family,” Williamson said.

 

Yet the risk of severe illness remains low for those who are vaccinated against COVID-19, and the rate of infections, hospitalizations and deaths are much higher for those without the shots.

With the right guidelines and increased vaccinations among those who are eligible, Williamson said, it is still possible to keep young people protected.

“Kids are only as safe as who they are around,” she said.

Although the delta variant was already known to be more transmissible than the original coronavirus, a new report on an outbreak involving 469 people in Massachusetts found that 74% of infections were among people who were fully vaccinated. And a confidential report produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pulled together other vexing signs that the variant spreads more easily among fully vaccinated people than previously thought.

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