Missouri pediatricians speaking out in statewide vaccination campaign


Dr. Cassidy Leonard-Scott

Missouri pediatricians recently teamed with the Missouri Foundation for Health to launch a campaign that aims to protect kids from COVID-19 by increasing adult vaccinations throughout the state.

The physicians are sounding the alarm as pediatric COVID cases continue to surge throughout Missouri and much of the country. The CDC reports unvaccinated adults and teens put children who are ineligible to receive the vaccine (those 12 and under) at a greater risk of contracting the virus.

A recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, shows child cases in the U.S have “steadily increased” since the beginning of July. A total of 121,427 pediatric cases were reported the week of August 12. In Missouri, children make up 11.5% of the total number of COVID-19 cases in the state.

The participating Missouri physicians represent various hospital systems and different regions of the state, but all agree the spike in pediatric COVID-19 cases is alarming and must be taken seriously as the more-contagious Delta variant continues to spread.

“The youngest patient I’ve diagnosed is nine weeks old,” said Dr. Cassidy Leonard-Scott, a pediatrician at the Hannibal Regional Medical Group, said in a prepared statement. “It was a daycare exposure, and it just broke my heart. I have other patients who are now former student-athletes because they’re now unable to walk up the stairs or from the living room to the kitchen without getting short of breath.

“Some adults and children get COVID and they do just fine, but some don’t fully recover. You never know how COVID will affect you and your children, so it’s best to get vaccinated and not take that chance.”

Growing cases of kids with COVID-19 and other viruses are putting a strain on hospitals statewide. While the rise in child cases has made some parents who have not made the choice to get vaccines now more open, others are still holding out. The foundation hopes local pediatricians can encourage parents on the fence to consider the risk to children and what is needed to keep them out of the ICU.

“We understand that Missourians want to make their own choices, and we hope that in making those choices, they learn the facts and consider those who oftentimes can’t make the choice for themselves — our children,” said Dr. Dwayne Proctor, MFH president and CEO. “We could be entering the most dangerous point of the pandemic for our children, and as the school year begins, we have to have a conversation about how to best protect them from serious illness. We know parents trust pediatricians to give them accurate information.”

As part of the campaign, the pediatricians will be sharing their personal advice and stories on social media using the hashtag #KidDocsFightCovid as well as through radio and other media outlets.

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