The worrying trend of children too young to be vaccinated emphasizes the need for vaccinations for older children and adults to help protect those around them.
According to government data on the only age group not yet eligible for vaccination, the number of children under five years of age hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States has soared to the highest level since the pandemic began in recent weeks.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said on Friday that the worrying trend of children who are too young to be vaccinated highlights the fact that older children and Adults need to be vaccinated to help protect those around them.
Since mid-December, the hospitalization rate of these youngest children has soared from 2.5 per 100,000 children to more than 4 per 100,000 as the highly contagious variant of Omicron has spread across the country. .
According to CDC data, the incidence of children aged 5 to 17 is about 1 in 100,000 people. This data comes from more than 250 hospitals in 14 states.
Overall, “the rate of pediatric hospitalization is the highest compared to any point in time before the pandemic,” Varensky said.
She pointed out that about 50% of children aged 12 to 18 and only 16% of children aged 5 to 11 were vaccinated.
The overall hospitalization rate for children and adolescents is still lower than any other age group. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they account for less than 5% of the average daily number of new hospital admissions.
As of Tuesday, the average number of patients under the age of 18 admitted to hospital for COVID-19 each day was 766, twice the number reported two weeks ago.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that high hospitalization rates in five states, namely Georgia, Connecticut, Tennessee, California, and Oregon, have promoted the trend of young children, with Georgia having the largest increase.
Less severe, more cases
Valensky said at a briefing that these figures include children who were hospitalized due to COVID-19 and children who were admitted to the hospital for other reasons but were found to be infected.
The CDC also stated that the surge may be partly attributable to the definition of COVID-19 hospitalization in this age group: the virus tested positive within 14 days of hospitalization for any reason.
Dr. John McGuire, director of intensive care at Seattle Children’s Hospital, said that during the Omicron wave, children’s illnesses appeared to be less severe than the Delta variant.
McGuire said in an email: “Most of the COVID+ children in the hospital didn’t actually come here because of COVID-19.” “They came here for other issues, but happened to test positive.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top infectious disease expert in the United States, said earlier this week that Omicron seems to cause less serious diseases across the board. Some of them will end in the hospital.
Fauci also said that many children hospitalized with COVID-19 have other health conditions that make them more susceptible to viral complications. This includes obesity, diabetes and lung disease.
Many people had hoped that the new year might bring vaccines to young children, but Pfizer announced last month that two doses of vaccines did not provide the protection they hoped for for young people between two and four years of age.
Pfizer’s research has been updated to give everyone under five a third dose, and data is expected in early spring.