By Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – COVID-19 pediatric cases have been topping last year’s peak numbers and students have just gone back to school.

“While I believe I am more prepared for the virus, I can’t speak for him, so I’d rather just be safe,” Karen Meza said.

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Meza is a new mom to a 4-month-old boy. He’s not old enough to get a lot of shots, let alone the COVID vaccine.

“Unfortunately, if I get an invitation to go somewhere, and it’s going to be people I have not been around, people who I don’t know what their behaviors are, unfortunately, I have to decline,” she explained.

Younger kids may not always get that sick with COVID-19, but the rising number of kids hospitalized is something she can’t ignore.

“It’s greater than what we saw last year at this time,” Dr. Marcos Mestre said.

Dr. Mestre is senior medical director of pediatric services at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. He told CBS 4, at the peak last year, in July 2020 there were 112 pediatric patients.

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“This year we saw 150.”

Adults may be able to get lifesaving monoclonal antibodies when conditions worsen dramatically, however, there’s an age limit, “For those under 12 years of age they don’t qualify for that treatment,” Dr. Mestre explained.

Since the start of school, Broward County Public Schools has had 418 cases among students, Miami-Dade County Public Schools with 72.

“Many times, these infections are going to be contracted in the home.” That’s why Dr. Mestre suggests families get vaccinated to help children too young to get the vaccine. As back-to-school impacts become clearer, the doctor is worried about other issues. “We are starting to see now the multi-organ inflammatory syndrome in children, MIS-C because so many individuals have had infections.”

For now, Meza takes no chances, avoiding crowded places, and sometimes invitations, “I have to be on the lookout for his best interest.”

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Dr. Mestre added, it’s still a good idea for kids to social distance and wear masks. Team