By Dr. Max Gomez

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The good news is that COVID vaccines are now available for children ages 5 and up.

The bad news is that COVID cases in children have risen by 32% from just two weeks ago.

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It seems contradictory — pediatric coronavirus cases spiking just as the country rushes to vaccinate children ahead of the winter holiday and the cold and flu season.

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One reason is that as COVID continues to spread, a smaller proportion of the childhood population has been vaccinated, compared to adults.

Dr. Rebekah Diamond, associate professor of pediatrics at Columbia Children’s Hospital, says there are also other drivers.

“People are loosening their restrictions or loosening restrictions at schools, or people are getting back together more. It all sort of compounds and compounds itself,” she told CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez.

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Those loosened restrictions will drive infections at schools, at home and other gatherings.

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Still, about 3 in 10 parents say they will definitely not get the vaccine for their 5- to 11-year-old, about the same proportion as parents who say they will immunize their child right away. The reluctance may be due to the misconception that kids either don’t get or get a very mild case of COVID. Not so.

“They get sick with high fevers. They are in the hospital for a long time. There are pediatric COVID deaths. There’s also the long-term effects. There’s long COVID, which is affecting large numbers of children. There’s myocarditis, which is very common with COVID in children, much more common than with the vaccine. There is MIS-C, which is the inflammatory condition after COVID,” Diamond said.

It is true that it’s too late for kids to be fully vaccine protected by Thanksgiving. That takes two weeks after the second dose, so if kids start now, they’ll be protected by Christmas, but they will be at least partially protected right away, so go get that shot.

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Tuesday afternoon, the New York City Council passed a bill to guarantee four hours of paid leave so parents can accompany their children to get a vaccine and care for them if they have side effects.

Dr. Max Gomez