By CBSMiami.com Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Almost 5 million children have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Cases and hospitalizations are increasing significantly in kids as the delta variant surges.

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Now, the American Academy of Pediatrics is launching a new campaign, urging parents to vaccinate their children and encouraging them to talk to their pediatrician about concerns.

“In adolescents ages 12 and up, in the trials, it showed a 100% efficacy. So, I think parents should feel really reassured that the vaccine will help keep their children healthy. It’ll help keep them well,” said Dr. Lee Beers, the president of the AAP.

The Delta variant is spreading among the unvaccinated, including kids. According to the AAP, about 204,000 kids tested positive last week, a number not seen since winter.

For the week ending August 26, children accounted for 22.4% of reported weekly cases, according to the AAP.

“Children are less likely to get severe illness, but they can still get very, very ill. The risks of getting COVID are significantly greater than the risks of the vaccine,” Dr. Beers said.

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According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, to date, 9.3 million children are fully vaccinated. That’s about 46% of 16 to 17-year olds and 37% of 12 to 15-year-olds.

The Alegrias are always on the go. With 14-year-old Greg and 13-year-old Liam in sports and other activities, the teens got the COVID vaccine the first day they were eligible.

Their mom Kris Alegria said, “My parents are in their eighties and we wanted to spend time with them. My one son was going to camp for a month and my other son was going on a backpacking trek. And they both wanted to be able to go do those things with confidence.”

Liam added, “I wanted to get the vaccine so life could be more normal, I guess.”

Greg said, “It doesn’t hurt at all either.”

“My kids have been getting vaccines since they were babies. I put my faith in the doctors then. And I, I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t now,” Kris said.

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The vaccine is not available yet to children under 12 years old. Data on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in children five to 11 is expected as soon as this month.

CBSMiami.com Team