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First Seattle Children's patient dies of COVID-19

An increasing number of young people statewide are being hospitalized with COVID, while parents wait for vaccines to be approved for children under 12.

SEATTLE — Seattle Children’s lost its first patient to COVID-19, the medical center announced Tuesday.

“We are saddened to confirm that the first patient death from COVID-19 at Seattle Children’s occurred last week, despite the extraordinary efforts of the care team. This hits all of us close to home, and the patient and family are in the thoughts and hearts of the Seattle Children’s community,” said Dr. John McGuire, chief of pediatric intensive care, in a statement.

Seattle Children’s did not reveal the patient’s age, whether they were vaccinated, or if they had a preexisting condition.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, as of last week, 665 COVID patients under the age of 19 were hospitalized in Washington. Eleven died.

“These are very disappointing at a time when we have both masks and vaccines. This is a preventable death,” said Dr. Scott Lindquist, state epidemiologist when asked about a possible juvenile COVID death.

Vaccines are available for people 12 and older. The state says about half of Washington's eligible children have started the vaccination process.

The only other reliable protection for children right now is the widespread use of face coverings.

“Until we can get our younger children vaccinated, the message should be we need every adult vaccinated against COVID to protect our children who can't, at this point, protect themselves. But we also need to remind ourselves that masking is a safe, effective, and a straightforward strategy,” said Dr. Mark Johnson, an infectious disease specialist at Confluence Health in Wenatchee during a Washington State Hospital Association briefing on Monday.

It's not yet clear when vaccines will be available for children under 12. A bipartisan group of Congress members, including some from Washington, are pushing the FDA for answers, saying the current lack of a timeline is alarming for parents.

“They need clear information about what the process is, what the timeline is going to be, because that makes a difference to how they're thinking about the return to school, child care, custody arrangements, vacation plans,” said Rep. Katie Porter (D – California), on CNN Tuesday.

Vaccine trials are now underway for children under 12. Some doctors, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have said they think children 5-11 might be eligible for shots by late fall or early winter.

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