RICHMOND, Va. -- Paxton Lee swings in blissful ignorance as his parents, who are both vaccinated, continue to do everything they can to try to prevent their one-year-old son and his siblings from getting COVID-19. Children like Paxton, who are under the age of 12, are not eligible to get vaccinated yet.
"We are continuing our usage of masks, continuing to be extremely cautious," Paxton's dad David said.
He said he was disappointed in the rising number of COVID cases among kids.
"It's very frustrating because it's within our control to be able to stop this and to not have to worry about whether my baby is going to be exposed to somebody in the grocery store who has COVID," Lee said.
Dr. Tiffany Kimbrough, a pediatrician at the Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU, said vaccinations were key.
"One of the ways we know we can keep kids safe is by cocooning them with vaccinated individuals around them," Dr. Kimbrough said.
As COVID cases in kids rise in Virginia, Dr. Kimbrough said the Children's Hospital has not seen an uptick in the number of children with COVID who need to be admitted to the hospital.
"Other states [like Alabama and Louisiana] are reporting that 50 percent of their severe illnesses are in kids under the age of 12," Kimbrough said.
Kimbrough attributed Virginia's success so far at keeping kids out of the hospital to the state's vaccination rate.
"One thing Virginia has going for it is that we have a higher number of the adults vaccinated. Currently, in Virginia we are at 54 percent who are completely vaccinated," Kimbrough said. "Whereas some of our other states that are having some of the severe outbreaks right now are having much lower rates of vaccination."
She encouraged even more adults and kids 12 and up to get vaccinated. She also pushed for schools to implement prevention measures so she and other pediatricians do not have to admit kids with COVID into the hospital.
"Virginia is doing such a great job leading the way in adult vaccination so continue to do this great work. I encourage all the school boards to prioritize masking for the return to school for all of our kids," Kimbrough said.