JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – A trio of scientific papers on the effects of COVID-19 in children emphasizes its risks and the strong benefits of vaccination.

The articles come from Overcoming COVID-19, a national study on COVID-19 in children and adolescents. Children’s of Mississippi at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) is one of 70 pediatric hospitals working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct the wide-ranging research.

Dr. Charlotte Hobbs, professor of pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases at UMMC, is a co-author of the articles. She said all three include children treated at the medical center.

“It’s important for Mississippians to know that these studies include patients from here,” Hobbs said, because it shows the contributions of the state of our understanding of COVID-19, and that the study findings represent what’s happening in Mississippi and elsewhere.

One paper published online December 21, 2021, in the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Journal looked at a sometimes-ignored population of COVID-19 patients: infants.

The study identified 630 patients aged 0-18 with severe COVID-19 across 50 of their hospital sites between March-December 2020. Of those, 128 were under a year old, and half of those were under two months old.

This finding – 20 percent – is a “disproportionate” result, Hobbs and her co-authors wrote.

Only six percent of Mississippi kids aged 5-11 and 35 percent aged 12-17 have received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. That’s among the lowest vaccination rates in the United States, which has overall rates of 19 and 55 percent in these age groups.

And with flu season underway, vaccination against infectious diseases becomes all the more critical.

“Coinfection with other viruses” – such as influenza, human metapneumovirus, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) — “can also occur and anecdotally the children we see with two viruses can be quite sick,” Hobbs said.