Announcement • August 12, 2021

St. Louis County, Let’s Fight For Our Children

A perspective from Dr. Kathy Bernhard:

I have loved being a pediatrician for the last 30 years. Watching babies in St. Louis County grow into toddlers, then into teens, and finally into mature young adults has been a privilege.

Over the years I’ve seen children come in with colds, flus, and broken bones. Yet in the three decades I’ve worked in my practice, I’ve never seen a virus like COVID-19.

I remember in late February 2020 I was invited to see a jazz singer perform at a venue in the Saint Louis Grand Center Arts District. The event was very enjoyable, except that my husband would not come along. He was concerned about the novel coronavirus causing serious mortality in Washington State nursing homes. There were rumors that the virus had also been causing illness in other U.S. cities, namely New York City. I wasn’t worried. The U.S. healthcare system was top notch in my book so certainly our country could handle the threat.

So much has changed since that concert, and we still aren’t out of the worst of it yet. Last year’s variant of COVID-19 wasn’t impacting children and youth like it is today. Now, we’re seeing youth cases in the double digits in our hospitals and the Delta variant is only helping these cases rise.

While the prevailing assumption is that children aren’t experiencing extreme symptoms like young adults and older folks, that’s not the case with all children. Of the youth cases seen in St. Louis hospitals over the past few weeks, we know of at least four children who were at the age to have gotten their vaccine. Yet because they didn’t receive a vaccine, they were left fighting for their lives in the intensive care unit.

St. Louis County, we can prevent this by getting ourselves and our eligible children vaccinated. And it is past time we do so.

According to the CDC, 99.99% of all fully vaccinated people have not had a severe reaction to a breakthrough case of COVID-19. If we get ourselves and our children vaccinated, that means:

  • Schools can remain open and safe for all of our students
  • Children’s hospitalizations will decrease dramatically
  • Our economy will be able to operate without the strain of the pandemic

As a pediatrician, I have faith in vaccines. They stopped the polio epidemic years ago – and now prevent countless cases of pneumonia or meningitis, and keep our communities safer for children to play and thrive without the worry of sickness.

Right now, the COVID-19 vaccine is approved for emergency use in children 12 years and older. Millions of tweens and teens have already received their doses. As the school year starts, please consider getting your child vaccinated to protect them from this dangerous virus.

Sign up for a vaccine here.