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Tulsa pediatricians concerned about latest surge in omicron hospitalizations

Admissions have doubled since 2022 started
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Posted at 5:59 AM, Jan 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-18 07:52:23-05

TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa pediatricians are sounding the alarm about the latest increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in children and how this is impacting them.

The St. Francis Children's Hospital says admissions of COVID-19 patients have nearly doubled and they worry that trend will continue.

In the last month, the hospital admitted 37 COVID-positive patients. That number jumped to 60 admissions within the first few weeks of this year.

Doctors say omicron is driving the latest surge of hospitalizations.

“What I’m seeing is these patients with acute present respiratory failure, where they need oxygen support," says Dr. Roopa Thukaram, a St. Francis pediatrician.

Pediatricians say 100 percent of their COVID-19 patients are ages 5 to 18-years-old and unvaccinated. About 75 percent of their patients are under a year old.

Pediatricians say they are seeing omicron target the upper airways more. For children under 4-years-old, that airway is very small so they experience swelling and more difficulty breathing.

“When does a child definitely need to be seen? When they are having difficulty breathing, taking in breaths, whether they have a rapid respiratory rate or they’re having a hard time taking in deep breaths, or if they’re having a hard time eating and staying hydrated," says Dr. John Lukeman, a Warren Clinic pediatrician.

They say many are also showing symptoms of severe croup, increased dehydration, low oxygen, and increased vomiting and diarrhea.

Their concern is not only the impact omicron is having on their health, they also worry about the long-term effects the virus is having on a child's mental, physical, and social well-being.

Pediatricians say the best way to protect those who are not yet eligible for the vaccine is to vaccinate everyone else in the family who is.

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