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Child with no other health issues dies from COVID-19 in Houston, health department says

The Houston Health Department said a child who didn't have other health issues has died from COVID in a Houston hospital.

HOUSTON — For the first time, a child who had no other health issues has died from COVID-19 at a Houston hospital, the city health department reported Thursday.

There have been six other pediatric deaths in Houston, but all of those children had underlying health conditions.

“Serious chronic medical problems, the things they’ve unfortunately been going to medical doctors regularly for most of their life. That’s what most of those have been," Chief Medical Officer for the City of Houston Dr. David Persse said.

The Houston Health Department said the boy who died in July was between the ages of 10 and 19 and had not been vaccinated. They say he tested positive for COVID-19, but they don't know yet if it was a variant of the virus, like delta.

They aren't releasing other details because of privacy laws.

“This tragedy serves as a reminder that children, even without underlying health conditions, can get seriously ill and die from COVID-19," Persse said. “Getting vaccinated is not only about protecting you, it’s about protecting everyone close to you, especially your family, from serious illness and death.”

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is currently authorized for people age 12 and up while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are currently authorized for people age 18 and up. 

“On behalf of the City of Houston, I extend my condolences to the boy’s family during their time of grief,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “The death of a loved one under any circumstance is heartbreaking, especially when we have the power to slow the spread and save lives. I encourage all eligible Houstonians ages 12 and older to get vaccinated and wear a face mask in large crowds or areas where you cannot socially distance.”

With the more contagious delta variant rapidly spreading, the health department urges everyone -- regardless of vaccination status -- to wear a mask indoors while out in the public.

"You hear so many people who are saying, ‘Well, my kid is healthy so they’ll probably do just fine. Why do I need to worry?’ And this is a case that illustrates, as we’ve been saying all along, that is not a guarantee," Persse said.

Getting vaccinated is free and does not require ID, proof of residency, citizenship, or insurance.

The Houston Health Department provides free vaccinations at fixed sites and pop-up clinics across the city. People should visit HoustonEmergency.org or call 832-393-4220 to find a nearby free vaccination site.