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CHICAGO — Pediatric health officials are again urging parents to get their children and teens vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible, not just for their physical health but their mental health as well.

Doctors from Advocate Aurora Health in Illinois and Wisconsin say they’ve seen a threefold increase in pediatric hospitalizations due to the latest omicron surge.

“We’re tracking 25-38 patients a day,” Advocate Children’s Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Frank Belmonte said. “It’s the highest number we’ve seen since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.”

They say most of those children are unvaccinated, many of them are under the age of 5 and not yet eligible.

Covid related deaths in children remain rare but the latest surge comes during peak season for respiratory illnesses with a few cases being reported around the country of so-called “flu-rona, that’s Influenza and Covid at the same time.

Their number one message is for those who are eligible to get vaccinated and boostered as soon as possible.

During a news conference via Zoom on Thursday, doctors also raised concerns about children’s mental health and the growing demand for mental health treatment. Children are processing grief and loss and dealing with anxiety, depression and isolation.

“My first message to parents is check in, ask questions big and small (questions), try to connect and engage with your kids,” Aurora Children’s Health Pediatric Psychiatry Dr. Laura Yahr Nelson said.

The doctors said it is necessary to do everything that can be done to keep kids in school and empower districts to do that safely.

“When there are things you cannot control, control what you can within the home and try to keep them connected,” Nelson said.

They also said they are seeing more children hospitalized with covid– who do not have previous health factors.

Despite these developments, the doctors urged parents to stay positive, communicate with their children and maintain a sense of normalcy as much as possible with the things they can control.