NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters hosted a virtual town hall for parents Thursday, September 16.
The hourlong virtual meeting, What Parents Need to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine, was held from 6:30-7:30 p.m. The virtual Town Hall was open to all CHKD patients and families, and featured a live Q&A session to address concerns about the vaccine.
Moderators of the town hall included Dr. Doug Mitchell, pediatrician and medical director for primary care practices, and Dr. Laura Sass, a pediatric infectious disease specialist. Both doctors discussed myths and science-based facts about the COVID-19 virus and vaccine.
10 On Your Side spoke with Dr. Mitchell ahead of the event. He says they wanted to get information out to parents ahead of the possible emergency authorization of the vaccines for children ages five through eleven.
“With a lot of misinformation out there about vaccines, misunderstandings, concerns, and fears, with the joint event with VDH we felt this was one more way to put experts available at the end of a keyboard to ask questions about getting their children vaccinated from COVID,” he said.
Mitchell says since the beginning of August, they’ve seen an increase in cases, which are being primarily driving by the unvaccinated in both children and adults.
“We’ve had more hospitalizations at CHKD than we’ve ever had before. We’re seeing the sickest children we’ve ever seen before,” he said. “This fourth wave, this increase since August is impacting the local community as well.”
Mitchell says those impacts also include how they respond to patients at the hospital. There are daily talks about whether to continue elective surgeries and procedures because of the help needed for COVID patients, according to Mitchell.
Like other healthcare systems, he says they’re short-staffed and don’t have the staff to run at full capacity but they’re working hard, are dedicated yet extremely tired from the pandemic.
Mitchell says that emergency rooms and Urgent Care are facing longer wait times due to families bringing in children, who have been exposed but are not showing symptoms, to get tested.
“Testing is a problem. The ER by law can’t turn anyone away but that’s not the right place to go to get testing by exposure,” he said.
Mitchell recommends going to your pediatrician or pharmacy.
He also says the best way to keep kids who aren’t eligible for the vaccine safe is to vaccinate all those around them who are eligible.
“If we had great vaccination in pediatric patients and adults, we’d have less spread of COVID right now. The more we can vaccinate, the fewer quarantines there will be in the schools, the fewer episodes where there will be outbreaks and not having to quarantine entire classrooms and other factors to slow down the spread to get others vaccinated,” Mitchell said.
According to recent data, Mitchell says about 98% of those hospitalized are unvaccinated and those who haven’t gotten their shots are five times more likely to get COVID, 10 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 11 times more likely to die than those who are vaccinated.
“Does it prevent every infection? Does it prevent the potential for spread? No,” he said. “But it dramatically decreases it because you have fewer people becoming infected. That five times decrease decreases the spread so we can slow it.”
No registration was required to join the virtual event.