By CBSNewYork Team

HOBOKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Students made their return to the classroom this week, but not all of them in person.

That’s because COVID-19 cases among children are on the rise, CBS2’s Kevin Rincon reported Wednesday.

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In the early days of the pandemic, kids were rarely getting COVID, but that’s not the case anymore.

“Things have definitely changed,” said Dr. Suzette Oyeku of Montefiore Children’s Hospital.

Oyeku says last week, alone, there were 325,000 new pediatric cases of COVID across the country, and the symptoms aren’t always mild.

“COVID, specifically, we’re seeing an inflammation of the lower airways, something called bronchiolitis. We’re also seeing children presenting with croup, which is like a barky cough. We’re also seeing our young babies presenting with fever,” Oyeku said.

COVID VACCINE

For Ringoes resident Lisa Dichiara and her daughter, Joey, COVID hit hard.

“It is nothing like the flu. Round about vomiting, never ending, and finally she says to me, ‘I don’t think I’m going to make it mom. I’m sorry,'” Dichiara said.

Joey Dichiara was 17 when she spent two weeks at the hospital in 2020, not long after she was diagnosed with MIS-C, a rare complication from COVID.

“This is it. I’m going to die. That’s how I felt,” Dichiara said.

READ MORE: Biden Administration To Give Out 400 Million Free N95 Masks

More than a year later, she says she still has symptoms, like fatigue.

The two of them are now vaccinated, though vaccines were not around when she got sick.

Their message?

“If you got lucky and you beat it, then you got lucky is the way I look at it,” Lisa Dichiara said.

They said vaccination is a choice, but one they believe could help prevent families from the pain they have done through.

“I believe it’s going to help people. It won’t put them in the hospital,” Joey Dichiara said.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Oyeku said one concern parents often site in their reluctance to get the vaccine for their kids is fertility.

“We know it does not have any impact on fertility because our nurseries are very busy right now,” Oyeku said.

Oyeku, like many other medical experts, said vaccinations are the key to lowering hospitalizations among every age group. But throughout the Tri-State Area, fewer than half of kids 5 and up have gotten their vaccine.

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CBS2’s Kevin Rincon contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team