OU Children’s Hospital: children are becoming critically ill from COVID

Mike Seals - July 26, 2021 11:22 pm

As COVID-19 cases continue to climb across Oklahoma, officials say, this time around, the virus has set its sights on a much younger target.

“It’s really important for parents to know that our kids are at risk now,” said Oklahoma Children’s Hospital Pediatrician Dr. Stephanie DeLeon.

Dr. DeLeon says concerns are growing for unvaccinated children amid a staggering summer surge.

Oklahoma’s seven-day rolling average has once again exceeded 1,000 new cases a day, 1,014 to be exact, and hospitalizations have more than doubled in the past month. Of which, over a third are in the ICU and 24 are pediatric patients according to the most recent data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

“We watched our adult physician colleagues go through this in the last year knowing that our kids were a little bit protected and now to see this happening where we feel like our kids are really vulnerable,” said Deleon. “It’s a little bit worrisome. Actually, it’s a lot worrisome.”

Dr. DeLeon says, due to the Delta variant and the fact that kids under the age of 12 aren’t eligible for the vaccine, not only are more children ending up in the hospital with COVID, they’re also coming in much younger and sicker.

“I can definitely say we are seeing young infants hospitalized,” she said. “For the parents, it’s really traumatic.”

It’s why, no matter your child’s age, DeLeon is advising all parents to keep an eye out for possible COVID symptoms.

“What can you look for, certainly a young child may not be able to tell you that they lost their taste or smell. So a lot of what COVID looks like in kids may look like other colds, it can be congestion or a cough,” she explained.

She adds that if your child develops a severe cough, is having difficulty breathing or feeding, or shows signs of dehydration, you shouldn’t hesitate to get them tested.

“Children absolutely can get COVID. They can get incredibly critically ill from COVID. So we want to make sure that we are protecting those kids to the best of our abilities,” said DeLeon.


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