KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- As some students head back to class, others are heading to the hospital.

While deaths remain rare for children, they’re staying sicker longer. Missouri data shows there are 3,000 COVID cases right now in kids younger than 10.

Just across the state, a pediatric hospital in St. Louis reports they admit about 11 new cases per day.

Children’s Mercy in Kansas City cared for nearly two dozen kids with COVID at the beginning of this week.

Dr. Angela Myers, Children’s Mercy Division Director of Infectious Diseases, says it is less likely for kids to have severe infections than adults, but it is clearly happening. She says kids are vulnerable until they are eligible for a vaccine.

“Parents can cocoon around their child, meaning that all the people that around their young child -- especially a young child who can’t be vaccinated -- get vaccinated. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings should all be vaccinated to help protect that younger child in a cocooning way," she said.

Local doctors are also seeing a large increase of RSV cases. It is not caused by COVID-19, but pediatricians are treating more cases than they’ve seen in years. The virus causes cold-like symptoms and can be dangerous for children and infants.

Earlier this week, Chidren’s Mercy had more than 40 patients hospitalized with RSV.

Myers says it’s no surprise the uptick in RSV cases happens as the most stringent COVID mandates loosen.

“Keep in mind, we had no RSV all at once the pandemic hit in March 2020. We saw zero RSV for well over a year because kids were at home. They were quarantined or they were masking when they were out. So now, we’re seeing a surge in the virus where people are not being masked and people are coming together in a population of children who don’t have any pre-existing immunity,” she said.

Myers says she’s also expecting a more active flu season.

Doctors continue to encourage all who are eligible to get a flu shot and COVID vaccine.

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