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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Coronavirus cases continue to rise among children in the Kansas City metro, while the vaccination rate among teens remains low.

The vaccination rate among kids ages 12-17 is only about 25%, according to the Mid-America Regional Council.

Experts at Children’s Mercy Hospital are concerned, especially with kids heading back to school soon. But they have some recommendations on how to protect your kids when they head back to class.

“One of the most important things we can do to protect kids from COVID-19 is get people vaccinated,” Dr. Jennifer Schuster said.

She’s talking about teachers, school staff, parents and older siblings – everybody who is eligible should get vaccinated to keep ineligible kids safe, doctors say. Schuster calls it cocooning.

“The more people that are vaccinated around that child that helps cocoon them,” Schuster said.

Vaccinated or not, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends masking at school indoors. Social distancing and hand hygiene will also help keep the numbers down.

Schuster said Children’s Mercy is seeing an overall increase in the number of kids with COVID-19. Right now, they have 10 children in the hospital with COVID-19.

“Our under 12s – all of them are susceptible to the virus,” Schuster said.

In June, Children’s Mercy saw about 30 positive cases. That number doubled in the beginning of July.

Schuster said now, it’s even higher.

“We are definitely seeing an increase, and the number now is on the higher side than we’ve seen throughout the course of the pandemic,” Schuster said.

Between COVID-19 and other seasonal illnesses, last week Children’s Mercy said it was at full capacity

Schuster said the same safety protocols are important in sports and extracurricular activities. Schuster also said regular testing is a good mitigation strategy to keep kids safe.

But doctors said the sure way to beat this virus: get vaccinated.

“Vaccinating is going to be the number one strategy,” Schuster said.

Even if your school district is not requiring masks indoors, doctors absolutely suggest students and staff wear one anyway.