Local pediatrician talks COVID-19 vaccines and children

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In the last week New Mexico reported 213 pediatric COVID cases. That’s 100 more than the week prior, and that’s 20% of recent cases in the state.

Dr. Melissa Mason with New Mexico’s Pediatric Society said it’s what nearly every parent is thinking or worrying about, especially when children head back to the classroom in just weeks.

“If we aren’t paying attention and really taking those measures seriously and continuing to push vaccinations we are going to see our numbers rise, that’s just a reality," Mason said.

Pediatricians in New Mexico are concerned this could be the start of something, but why the uptick now?

“Part of that is more kids are getting it because they can’t get vaccinated. Another reason is as things open up and we’re spending more time in public, in crowds, you’re going to see an increase as well as this Delta variant, which is more contagious," Mason said.

New Mexico’s Public Education Department hasn’t given any guidance on what school will look like for masks or anything else related to COVID, since many kids who cannot get the vaccine are going back to school.

Mason said parents don’t need to wait to talk about the new COVID reality.

“In New Mexico, generally overall, our numbers are still low compared to the rest of the country, they are going to increase, we are seeing it across the country, we are seeing it in our state. So compared to other states, we are still right now doing okay, but we need to be prepared to continue to see those numbers rise," Mason said.

More than 36% of New Mexico children between the ages of 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated — more than 61,000 children. Another 9% in that age group have started the vaccination process, which is the only youth age group eligible for the vaccine.

Mason wanted to clarify a common misconception that children can’t get really sick with COVID. That’s not true, children can still suffer the most severe cases of COVID, and it can be deadly.