Children Among Those Hospitalized With Delta Variant in Jacksonville

Jul 16, 2021

With COVID-19 cases spiking in Northeast Florida, local doctors say the patients filling up their hospitals are almost all unvaccinated. 

Children who are too young for the approved COVID vaccines are among those ending up in Jacksonville hospitals, according to UF Health Jacksonville Associate Chair of Pediatric Medicine Dr. Mobeen Rathore. 

“We don’t know that the Delta variant causes any disease that is any worse than the regular coronavirus,” Rathore said. “But it is much easier to infect others, so it spreads much more easily.”

With a 21.9% case positivity rate — double the state average — Jacksonville is the city in Florida where COVID-19 cases are spiking the fastest, according to an analysis by the financial group 24/7 Wall St. 

UF Health Jacksonville’s Rathore said that with children under 12 still not eligible for the vaccine, the best way to protect kids is to prevent them from being exposed to the virus by surrounding them with a “cocoon” of vaccinated people. 

With a vaccination rate of about 41 percent in Duval County, that cocoon does not exist for many children. 

After speaking with local hospital staff about the rise in COVID patients, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry is encouraging all eligible residents to get the vaccine. 

“Once again, I am asking the people of Jacksonville to get the vaccine,” he said on Twitter this week. “Protect yourself and your family. Get vaccinated.”

Vaccine trials are underway for children age 6 months and up. 

Contact Sydney Boles at sboles@wjct.org, or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.