COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio’s top doctor discussed respiratory illnesses and COVID-19 cases in children Monday.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, state health director, was joined by health officials from children’s hospitals across the state.

According to the state Department of Health, 13.5% of 0-19 age group in the state have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. On Monday, the Pfizer vaccine, the only one authorized for those ages 12-17, received full approval from the FDA.

Dr. Rustin Morse, chief medical officer at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and Lee Ann Wallace, chief nursing officer, spoke about how to differentiate between COVID-19 and RSV and about their hospital’s preparedness to care for children in central Ohio. 

“Both RSV and COVID in children have very low mortality rates,” Morse said. “A vast majority of children who have RSV don’t have to be hospitalized. Just occasionally does a child die from RSV in the hospital. It’s not an illness to be taken lightly, but not one to terribly be concerned about.”

You can watch Vanderhoff’s comments in the player below.

On Monday, Nationwide Children’s had 300 patients walk into its doors, with 12 testing positive for COVID-19, three of whom are in intensive care and one is on a ventilator.

Morse said this is why it is important to wear masks and socially distance, especially with the return to schools and, as RSV cases are rising, hospitals are becoming overwhelmed with demand.

“What we think, what we’re hypothesizing is that we spent last winter kind of collectively locked down, physically distanced.

So, the young children who normally get RSV in the first year or two weren’t exposed,” Morse said. “Now that they’re loosening up and getting more social, it’s likely allowing the virus to take hold a little earlier than usual.”