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Oswego County officials pushing vaccines as pediatric cases spike

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Oswego County health officials say they’re seeing quite a sharp uptick in COVID-19 cases in children ages five to 11 compared to last year.

“So just in 5- to 11-year-olds, and from November 7 to November 14, we had 67 positive cases,” said the health department’s medical director, Dr. Christina Liepke. She said that’s about 12% of all active cases right now.

During that same timeframe last year, there were only 11 active cases in that age group.

There have also been a few hospitalizations in younger kids recently, which is a stark difference from last year.

“Last year, we didn't actually have any pediatric hospitalizations for COVID-19 that we were made aware of,” said Liepke.

Oswego County actually has the highest positivity rate in central New York right now, clocking in at about a 9.4% 7-day average.

While vaccines are now available for children as young as 5 years old, Liepke said case numbers are higher now simply because things aren’t as locked down as they were this time last year.

We're just in a different position in terms of society trying to keep our schools open because children need to be in school,” she said. “And as people, we need a little bit of socialization I suppose. So this is kind of a natural consequence of that, right?”

She has two recommendations to get these case numbers and hospitalizations down. The first is if you or your kids aren’t feeling well, stay home if you can.

“We need to really be cautious about that because you don't know who you're working with and what underlying medical conditions they could have or a reason for not being vaccinated,” said Liepke.

The second: she’s urging parents to get their children vaccinated.

“I do believe vaccines are safe,” she said. “We've had millions of people be vaccinated, it is very safe.”

Madison Ruffo received a Master’s Degree from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, where she specialized in audio and health/science reporting. Madison has extensively covered the environment, local politics, public health, and business. When she’s not reporting, you can find Madison reading, hiking, and spending time with her family and friends.