ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- With rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, both health experts and data shine a spotlight on another key difference with the Delta variant -- on how it impacts kids.
It was her worst fear coming to fruition, when Ashley Henderson’s 7-year-old son was hospitalized with COVID-19 last weekend.
"Saturday evening, he wasn't feeling well, and he actually woke up about 2 a.m. with a pretty significant fever, just not feeling well, was real flushed, real fatigued [and] just real listless,” she said.
The mother of two from outside Carbondale, Illinois, says he spent three days at the SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis.
"He just pretty much slept for three days. He was just not himself at all," she said.
Her son has common variable immune deficiency, a condition that makes him more susceptible to getting sick. It is why her family did everything they could to protect him by making sure learned from home during the height of the pandemic. Everyone in the family that could also got the vaccine, including her husband.
Both Henderson’s husband and son tested positive for COVID-19 after last weekend.
“We don't really know where he would've got that from,” she said. “We say pretty much [keep him] in a bubble because we don't know how things affect them when he does get sick."
“We are seeing more patients, more kids with COVID-19, not just that, we're seeing more severe disease and some patients are being admitted to the intensive care unit,” said Dr. Wail Hayajneh, professor of pediatric infectious diseases at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital.
This week, the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force said there were 13 pediatric COVID hospitalizations across the region's hospitals. This is among children under 18.
Hayajneh expects that number to keep growing, especially as children return to the classroom this fall.
"If we have no higher rate of immunizations, we're going to have more cases,” he said.
Lincoln County officials say 17 percent of reported COVID-19 cases in July were among children. According to St. Charles County data, 24 percent of COVID-19 cases for the month were among children. In Franklin County, that number is 13 percent. Roughly 20 percent of Jefferson County's reported COVID-19 cases last week were people 19 and under.
COVID-19 data from St. Louis City shows children accounted for over 19 percent of the total cases reported the last two weeks. In St. Louis County, the average rate of new COVID-19 cases increased by 105 percent among children ages 10-14.
Jefferson County also reports only 13.96 percent of eligible children under 19 have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Across the state, that number is 21 percent.
Henderson hopes her son’s story can prevent other families from having their children struggle with COVID-19, but she says it will take others doing their part to get vaccinated and wear a mask.
"If people are not going to protect themselves, do it for other people. People like my son that doesn't have an immune system to fight this stuff off,” she said.