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'Our children are in a very, very dangerous moment' | St. Jude doctor urges importance of COVID-19 vaccinations

“The message here cannot be more clear, all parents and eligible children should take steps today to receive the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr. Hijano.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A doctor from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is warning parents to act now to keep their children safe from COVID-19.

St. Jude said Wednesday that new data from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows a 240% increase in pediatric COVID cases in the country.

Doctor Diego R. Hijano, M.D., is a pediatric infectious disease specialist at St. Jude. He said children are facing the most dangerous moment of their lifetimes.

“The message here cannot be more clear, all parents and eligible children should take steps today to receive the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr. Hijano. “Our children are in a very, very dangerous moment and the Delta variant has proven, as predicted, to be the most highly transmittable strain of the virus we’ve yet faced. With less than half of the eligible adolescent population fully vaccinated, every American must do their part and take action now by getting vaccinated and masking up in public settings - or the situation is likely to get worse and our kids will continue to suffer.”

Dr. Hijano said that less than half of eligible adolescents are currently vaccinated. He encouraged teens between the ages of 12 to 15 to get the vaccine.

The FDA’s emergency use authorization for the vaccine covers every child 12 years old and up. The CDC Director reported Tuesday its scientists are working on a vaccine for children younger than 12 and hope to have it available by the end of the year.

“As we await emergency use authorization of the Covid-19 vaccine for children younger than 12 years of age, those in close contact with them should be taking additional precautions such as masking up to protect them,” Dr. Hijano concluded.