UMMC pediatric experts encourage masks, vaccinations for in-person learning


JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) pediatric experts and leadership from the state’s pedestrian group encourage parents to protect their children from COVID-19 and the omicron variant.

“In the past two weeks, the number of children hospitalized at Children’s of Mississippi because of COVID-19 has tripled,” said Dr. Mary Taylor, Suzan B. Thames Chair and professor of pediatrics. “We know the importance of in-person learning for children and want schools to be open safely. We encourage parents to have their children wear face masks when in school or in public and to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19.”  

Nineteen children diagnosed with COVID-19 are hospitalized at Children’s of Mississippi, the state’s only hospital specifically for kids and teens. Four of those patients are in intensive care.  

“Most of our children admitted specifically for COVID-19 are unvaccinated or are younger than 5 years old and don’t qualify for vaccination,” said Dr. April Palmer, professor and chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UMMC.   

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends vaccination against COVID-19 for children who are eligible.   

This week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorized COVID-19 booster shots for those ages 12 to 15. Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations are available for children ages five to 11 at a lower dose. The vaccine was made available to ages 12 to 15 through an emergency use authorization in May.  

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been shown to be nearly 91 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 in children ages five to 11.  

Dr. Anita Henderson, president of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a pediatrician at the Hattiesburg Clinic said parents should encourage their children ages 2 and older to wear face masks when in school, day care or in public.

Face masks are not recommended for children younger than two.

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