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Pediatrician says vaccines key to protecting children from delta variant

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MADISON (WKOW) -- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the delta variant of COVID-19 spreads as easily as chickenpox. And that's bad news for children, many of whom are too young to get vaccinated.

While people who are fully vaccinated are protected from serious illness and hospitalization, that's not the case for people who haven't gotten the shot yet. Dr. Dan Beardmore, a pediatrician with SSM Health, said the new variant often causes more severe illness for unvaccinated people.

"If they were to get sick, it would be more than just a cold for them," he said.

The original strain of COVID-19 didn't infect children as frequently, but Beardmore said that isn't the case anymore. So, he said vaccinations are the key to protecting all kids.

Children who are at least 12 years old can get vaccinated, and their immune system will have a bolstered response to the virus. Beardmore said kids who aren't old enough can gain protection if the people they spend time with are vaccinated.

"If you have someone who's under the age of 12, just vaccinate everyone around them," he said. "That way we can try to keep as many people safe as possible."

Beardmore said universal masking will also help protect people who can't get vaccinated, but he says he knows that isn't an option that excites everyone.

"As a citizen, as a community member, I'm disappointed because it was nice to go to restaurants again and to do things again and see faces and smile and interact like we used to," he said.

However, Beardmore said he doesn't really see any other option as the delta variant runs rampant across the country.

"I don't want people to roll their eyes, brush it off, and say, 'I don't want to do this all over again,'" he said. "Because we have to. We have to keep each other safe. … Do your part. Please get vaccinated. This is not a political issue. This is not a being told what to do problem. This is just being safe and trying to help each other."

Beardmore said he's hopeful school boards that had previously voted to not require masks in the fall will reconsider their decision in light of the new information about how easily the delta variant spreads.

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Caroline Dade

Weekend Evening Anchor/Reporter, 27 News

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