With school back in session and the pandemic still in high gear, one local pediatrician is advising parents to vaccinate children as soon as they are eligible.
“We’re definitely seeing an uptick in disease in children,” said Dr. David Tayloe, founder and owner of Goldsboro Pediatrics.
Daily, Tayloe’s staff sees six or more COVID-19-positive pediatric patients.
“There’s no question we’re seeing more positive patients than we are used to seeing,” Tayloe said. “Most of them are not sick. They have a cold and they’re positive for COVID.”
As of Friday, 20% or 1,886 children ages 12-17 have been vaccinated in Wayne County, according to the N.C. Department of Health Human Services.
At Wayne County Public Schools, 198 people have tested positive for the virus since Aug. 6, including 94 people between Aug. 28 and Sept. 3, the WCPS COVID-19 dashboard shows.
Of the recent pediatric patients Tayloe has seen at his office, none have been admitted to the hospital, he said.
Tayloe said the best thing people can do overall is get vaccinated and have their children vaccinated.
“We are vaccinating our grandchildren as fast as they’ll let us, according to the rule, and I’ll encourage everybody to do the same,” Tayloe said. “I see no downside to (children 12 and up) taking this vaccine.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the vaccine for anyone age 12 and older.
According to the CDC, widespread vaccination is a critical tool to help stop the pandemic.
Currently, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only vaccine approved for children 12 and older.
The Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are only approved currently for adults 18 and older, according to the CDC.
People who are fully vaccinated can resume activities that they did prior to the pandemic, according to the CDC.
“The vast majority of people can take the vaccine,” Tayloe said. “Right now we can’t give the vaccine to kids under 12. We’re hoping this fall we will have permission to give it to younger children.”
While Tayloe said COVID-19 vaccines are safe for children 12 and older, there have been some side effects with the Pfizer vaccine.
Some who have received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are being diagnosed with myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, he said.
The Mayo Clinic reports that although rare, there has been an increase in cases of myocarditis and pericarditis, inflammation of the lining outside of the heart, in patients 16 years and older who received the vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating if there is any relationship to COVID-19 vaccination, according to the Mayo Clinic. The conditions are being reported several days after teens receive a second dose of the vaccine. Most of the people who received care quickly felt better after receiving medicine and resting.
Myocarditis symptoms to watch for include chest pain, shortness of breath, and feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart.
Tayloe said most patients with myocarditis he sees are minor cases.
“Yes it happens, but there’s no long-term side effect or disability or disease related to it,” Tayloe said.
Tayloe said children respond differently than adults with COVID-19, and most of them recover.
However, Tayloe said COVID-19 is not something to disregard or trivialize.
“(COVID-19 in children) can be fairly serious, but it’s not common,” Tayloe said. “So it’s not something to blow off and say we shouldn’t protect children.”
In the meantime, Tayloe said Wayne County Public Schools is doing a great job of protecting students by requiring masking.
“I was glad to see Wayne County Public Schools change their policy to require the masking because that’s all (you) have to offer somebody who can’t vaccinate,” Tayloe said.
“Our Wayne County public schools have done a marvelous job staying on top of this. They’re doing all they can to keep people who might be contagious out of the school environment.”
He said even the vaccinated should take precautions and wear masks when necessary.
“I think you have to have a healthy respect for COVID,” Tayloe said.
For those who are leery of getting a vaccine, Tayloe said people need to review information provided by credible sources.
“Look at the data,” he said. “Stop looking at social media and look at the data.”
As of Friday, statewide, there have been 5,877 newly reported COVID-19 cases, according to DHHS. More than 15,000 deaths have been reported statewide.
In Wayne County, 276 COVID-19-related deaths have been reported since the pandemic began, 678 active COVID-19 cases have been reported within the last 14 days, and 41% or 50,777 people have been fully vaccinated, according to DHHS.
To find a vaccine provider, visit https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines or call the state COVID-19 Vaccine Help Center at 888-675-4567.
The Wayne County Health Department is offering free vaccines by appointment at waynegov.com/vaccine or by calling 919-731-1000.