Pediatrician reports record number of children hospitalized for COVID-19 in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Just as adults can become COVID-19 long-haulers -- people who caught the virus and now have long-lasting effects -- children who had COVID-19 can face a condition that targets their organs -- MIS-C.

The Centers for Disease Control calls the condition rare but serious. The condition can cause organs like the heart, lung, and brain to become inflamed.

The CDC reports 4,196 MIS-C cases across the country, and 37 deaths. To protect patients’ privacy, the CDC listed case ranges instead of exact case numbers. Florida had between 150 and 199 MIS-C cases as of June 28, according to the CDC.

UF Health Dr. Mobeen Rathore specializes in pediatric infectious diseases. He says any time there’s a surge in COVID-19 cases, doctors start seeing kids with MIS-C, which he says typically develops four-to-six weeks after a child has had COVID-19.

Dr. Rathore is urging people to get vaccinated. He says about 20 children are currently hospitalized across Jacksonville for COVID-19, a record number.

Action News Jax checked with our local hospitals. Two got back to us. Baptist Health reports Wolfson Children’s is treating 13 children for COVID-19, and five are in the ICU. UF Health reports three children are currently admitted for COVID-19.

“[We are] definitely seeing more children than we have seen ever before since the start of the pandemic, and it could be the Delta variant, but I think it’s primarily because these children are not eligible for COVID vaccination,” Rathore said.

Because children under the age of 12 cannot yet get the shot, Rathore says people can protect them by being vaccinated themselves.

“They’re going to be living with the complications of this terrible disease for a long time,” Rathore said.

Research is underway and developing on when children under the age of 12 can get vaccinated against COVID-19.