COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — When it comes to children and testing positive for COVID-19, numbers for January are the highest positive case numbers through the nearly two years of the pandemic.

More than 79,000 COVID-19 cases in people under the age of 18 have been reported this month in Ohio.

Doctors said there’s more work to be done when it comes to vaccinations for this age group.

“It mirrors what we’re seeing across the state,” said Columbus Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts.

She said seeing more cases in children is not a surprise, considering the high community spread.

“They’re just a product of the community they live in, and the community rates are very, very high, so it wouldn’t be surprising that we’d see high rates in our school-age kids as well,” Roberts said.

Roberts and Dr. Mike Patrick with Nationwide Children’s Hospital said the omicron variant is playing a role in the spread as well.

“So it’s just so contagious and easy for kids to catch and that’s why we’re seeing so much of it,” Patrick said.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, January ranks as the month with the highest number of COVID-19 cases reported in one month, with 79,620 cases so far. December 2021 was number two on the list, with 53,384.

“Five- to 11-year-olds that have completed the vaccines — 26.5 percent,” Roberts said about the vaccination rate in Franklin County, adding she would like to see more movement on the vaccine front when it comes to younger kids. That age group was approved to get the pediatric doses in November.

“Talk to your pediatrician, talk to your friends and neighbors who got their kids vaccinated,” Roberts said. “See how they’re doing, but this is a safe and very effective vaccine.”

Both doctors said children aren’t affected as much as adults when they contract the virus and vaccines are key in warding off chances of a severe infection.

Since the start of the pandemic, 3,035 children have been hospitalized in Ohio.

CPH offers nine vaccination clinics throughout the week. Click here for more details on those clinics.