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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Doctors at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital are urging parents to get their kids who are 12 years of age or older vaccinated after two children died from COVID-19 last weekend.

Dr. Nick Hysmith, Medical Director of Infection Prevention at Le Bonheur, said one was a patient, and the other child was being treated at an outlying facility. He said both were over the age of 10.

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Dr. Hysmith said in just the last week, they’ve seen an alarming increase in the number of children being admitted with acute COVID symptoms.

“Early on in the pandemic, we were seeing kids who would come in for another reason maybe they broke their leg or something like that, and they would come in, and they would test positive for COVID. So, they would be in our COVID isolation area,” said Dr. Hysmith. “What we have seen over the last week to week and a half that kids are actually coming in with pretty severe COVID Symptoms. Respiratory symptoms and things of that nature.”

Last week, four to five children were being treated for COVID-19 at Le Bonheur. This week, they have eight COVID patients, and two are in the Intensive Care Unit.

Dr. Hysmith said during the height of the pandemic, they had about six COVID-19 patients.

“Unfortunately, what we have seen more in our pediatric patients that are presenting with things that we have seen in the adult population.  Some really severe respiratory illnesses have required them to be intubated and in our ICU,” Dr. Hysmith said.

Dr. Hysmith said hospitals in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana are seeing the same increases in young COVID patients. He is imploring parents to get their kids vaccinated if they can and says all children should be wearing masks in school.

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“I think the big thing is if your child is 12 or over, please get your child vaccinated. We are seeing really sick kids, and I think that’s the best way to protect your children,” he said.

The CDC recommends everyone 12 years and older receive a COVID-19 shot. The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend universal masking for students and teachers at school regardless of their vaccination status.