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Akron pediatrician sees rise of COVID-related inflammatory disease in children, urges vaccination

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff was joined by a pediatrician from Akron Children's Hospital during his briefing on Wednesday.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff held a press briefing on Wednesday to address the state's continued response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

RELATED: More coronavirus coverage from WKYC

As reports of children testing positive for COVID-19 rise nationwide, one area pediatrician stated during the briefing that Ohio hospitals are seeing the lasting impacts of the virus on children in a different way. 

Dr. Michael Forbes is a pediatric intensive care specialist at Akron Children's Hospital. While Forbes says the hospital didn't see many cases of pediatric COVID, they did see previously healthy children develop MIS-C, an inflammatory syndrome seen in children connected to COVID-19. 

Forbes said the hospital has treated at least 44 children with confirmed cases of MIS-C. According to Forbes, many children who developed MIS-C came from families who had previously tested positive for the virus. 

Also during the briefing, Vanderhoff addressed an announcement from U.S. health officials to recommend all eligible Americans receive a COVID-19 booster shot 8 months after their final dose of the vaccine. 

"Today, U.S. Health and Human Services reaffirmed that the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States continue to be remarkably effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death, even against the widely circulating delta variant," said Vanderhoff. 

Vanderhoff said the goal is to keep students learning in the classroom five days a week. 

"Adopting layered prevention measures in schools now will help ensure that our students can learn in person as much as possible this year, and keep our students participating in extracurricular activities," said Vanderhoff. 

Forbes drove home that point, saying the best way for families to protect their children as they head back to school is to "prevent what's preventable." 

"If you're 12 and above, you should be vaccinated," said Forbes.  

Dr. Vanderhoff's press briefing came one day after he and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine held a press briefing in which they each expressed concern about COVID-19's Delta Variant, which Vanderhoff said has become the dominant COVID-19 strain in the state.

With the fall season approaching, DeWine said that the recent spread of the Delta Variant could threaten the ability for students to return to the classroom. And while Ohio lawmakers passed and overrode a veto on Senate Bill 22, which gives the state's General Assembly the ability to be able to reject any of the governor’s or health department’s health orders, DeWine urged the state's school districts to implement their own mask mandates in an effort to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

"Our students can't afford another disrupted school year. We need them in the classroom," Gov. DeWine said. "The best way to protect them is to send them to school with masks."

On Tuesday, Ohio reported 3,235 new COVID-19 cases, an increase of 1,421 from the day prior. 

You can watch Wednesday's full briefing in the video player below.

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