FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) –  Cook Children’s Medical Center has taken the rare step of canceling elective surgeries as they work to manage the COVID-19 surge, calling the situation “dire.”

“Anytime you schedule surgery, a patient needs something done for their health and well-being,” says Cheryl Peterson, Vice President, Cook Children’s Chief Nursing Officer. “So, we recognize that, and we recognize what a difficult decision this was not only for us as leaders in the organization but for our surgeons and for our patients and families.

READ MORE: Garland Cops Searching For 2 Of 3 Women Who Kidnapped Toddler From Mother's Arms 

Peterson says emergency surgeries will continue.

Meanwhile, in a statement the hospital is reiterating that even among pediatric patients the current surge is a crisis of the unvaccinated, sharing “Half of the COVID-19 patients we have treated since the vaccine was approved for children 12 and up have been unvaccinated teenagers. We have not treated a single vaccinated patient for severe COVID-19.”

Cook Children’s hospital leaders say for the past month, they’ve been evaluating elective surgeries on a case-by-case basis and rescheduling as needed.

Now, they say with no end in sight, that strategy no longer works.

They are at a point where hospital staffers are no longer physically capable of caring for all the children needing care.

“My message to our community partners,” says Peterson, “is to vaccinate.”

That message is being echoed at Dallas’ Children’s Health, as they manage their own patient surge.

READ MORE: Tarrant County Lifts Outdoor Burning Ban; Fire Marshal Reminds Of Safety Requirements

“So, this winter is happening to us in the summer, where the blend of all of the respiratory viruses and childhood diseases as well as injuries that happened in the summer, also happened at a time when we had another surge with COVID-19,” says Tammy Webb, Chief Nursing Officer, Children’s Health.

And let’s not forget, cold and flu season are around the corner.

“There’s many predictive models out there, but we really don’t know what will happen. But with schools starting back now for several weeks, we are concerned about seeing more and more of those communicable diseases that children spread when they’re together.”

Children’s Health, Cook Children’s in Fort Worth and Medical City Children’s all pleading with parents to take COVID-19 seriously, and take precautions, starting with vaccines for those that are eligible.

“Because this vaccine has proven to be safe and effective in protecting against severe disease, hospitalization and death,” says Philip Ewing, MD, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Medical City Children’s Hospital.

“Additionally, it’s important that children should be surrounded by vaccinated people such as parents and teachers which provides a sort of shield to further protect them.”

Hospital leaders at Cook Children’s say they’ve seen a “very mild decrease” patient load in the last few days. But. The decrease called “nothing at this point to be celebrating for sure,” says Peterson, “because we continue to have grave concerns about the presence and positivity of COVID in our community.”

And other local healthcare leaders agree.

MORE NEWS: Walgreens Begins Testing Drone Delivery In 2 North Texas Cities

“The number one cause and where children usually contract this virus is in their own home, in their own household, from their own family members,” says Webb with Dallas Children’s Health. “So, I would absolutely encourage anyone that has young children that are unvaccinated to please encourage your family members to vaccinate.”