RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising among children. Doctors worry about pediatric cases especially for those too young to get the vaccine. 

“We are in emergency mode in pediatrics, our practices, our offices, our urgent cares are at their full capacity,” said Dr. Asim Zamir, Chief of Pediatrics at Valley Baptist in Brownsville.

Dr. Zamir said the spread of COVID-19 is skyrocketing in children which is causing a huge surge in testing and they anticipate an uptick in pediatric hospitalizations in the coming weeks.

“We will see the surge in our in-patient hospitalization which we barely started seeing, and I’m expecting the next two weeks will be worse,” he said.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that pediatric hospitalizations are at the highest level since the pandemic began. 

Dr. Zamir shares that the challenge lies within children too young to get vaccinated. 

“They cannot have the vaccine, that’s one factor, second, their age is another high-risk factor,” said Dr. Zamir. “The younger the child is, the more acute bronchitis gets complicated.”

Right now, Dr. Zamir said omicron is leading children under the age of 5 to develop another familiar illness called croup. 

“The coronavirus has joined the group of viruses which trigger croup. Croup is a disease where the swelling of the upper airway and where you will start having trouble breathing and you make a harsh cough like a dog or a seal,” he explained.

Dr. Zamir is warning parents to be on the lookout for those symptoms. He adds that while croup is treatable, there could be complications. 

“Some very few numbers of them get complicated then we have to intubate them, we have to put a tube in their airway so the swelling goes down and let the lungs heal,” he said.

Dr. Zamir said the best way to protect your children is to limit gatherings and continue safety measures like social distancing and wearing masks, especially for kids not eligible for the vaccine.