South Africa Reports Rise in Number of Kids Hospitalized With COVID-19 Omicron Variant

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Doctors in South Africa say they have seen a dramatic rise in the number of children under 5 who need to be hospitalized with the COVID-19 omicron variant.

The question now is whether that's because they don't quality for vaccines.

"The incidents in those under 5 is now second highest and second only to the incidents in those over 60," said Dr. Waasila Jassat with the South Africa Institute of Communicative Disease. "The trend that we're seeing now that's different to what we saw before is the particular increase in hospital admissions in children under 5 years."

The news got the attention of parents and doctors worldwide.

"It's hard to make any specific conclusions out of one report because it also depends on the vaccination of the community and so many other things that are at play," said Dr. Roshni Mathew, a pediatric infectious disease doctor at Stanford Children's Health.

Mathew says the omicron variant is still a relative unknown. She says it's not clear what, if any, impact the South Africa report will have on children in the United States.

She says vaccine trials for children under 5 are ongoing, but it's still not clear when or if it will be deemed safe for children under 5.

"I do not have a timeline on that," she said.

She says for now parents need to continue to take every precaution they can because once we get past omicron, other variants will likely not be far behind.

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