(CBS DETROIT) – More than six million children have tested positive for covid in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic.

Researchers from the American Academy for Pediatrics say cases peaked in September, where more than 252,000 kids contracted the virus.

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Dr. Dennis Cunningham, a pediatrician and assistant medical director for infectious disease at Henry Ford Health System says kids returning to in-person learning and relaxed masks requirements contributed to the spike.

“It is the cause and the reason for this outbreak,” said Dr. Cunningham.

“Last year, we had really strict rules for people wearing mask and that’s why schools were able to stay open without outbreaks. This year there’s no mandate.”

According to an AAP report, 46% of children 12 to 17-years-old are fully vaccinated in the U.S., but the number of vaccinations are declining each week.

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It’s a little bit of rolling the dice, saying that my kids probably going to be ok so I’m not going to worry about it,” Dr. Cunningham explained.

“And people would probably be right about that but, again, I worry they’re going to bring it home to mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, other relatives who may wind up in the hospital or maybe die from it.”

Next week, the Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory committee is set to meet to discuss emergency use authorization of the covid-19 vaccine for children.

If your child is sick, don’t send them to school,” Dr. Cunningham said.

“You’re just going to cause more cases and we’re never going to get this under control. And by early to mid-November, we’re going to have the vaccine available for children as young as five years of age.”

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