US children hospitalized with COVID in near-record numbers


The omicron-fueled surge in COVID-19 infections in the US is sending children to hospital near record numbers, and experts lament that most young children are unvaccinated.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Dr Paul Offit, an infectious disease specialist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Last year was tough enough, but now you know you have a way to prevent all of this.”

During the week of December 21-27, an average of 334 children 17 and younger were hospitalized with coronavirus each day, up 58% from the previous week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The previous peak of the pandemic was in early September, when the average number of children hospitalized was 342 per day, the CDC said.

On a more hopeful note, children continue to make up a small percentage of those hospitalized for COVID-19: More than 9,400 people of all ages were admitted to the hospital each day on average during the same week in December, on average: . And many doctors say the kids who come here seem to be less sick than the kids seen during the summer spike.

CDC data shows that two months after immunizations are approved for children ages 5 to 11, about 14% are fully protected. This rate is higher among 12 to 17 year olds, at about 53%.

Dr. Albert Ko, professor of epidemiology and infectious diseases at the Yale School of Public Health, says the problem is happening in many cases. Younger children weren’t approved for the vaccine until November, he said, and many are now getting a second dose.

Offit said none of the vaccine-eligible children cared for at his hospital about a week ago have been vaccinated, despite two-thirds having underlying illnesses that put them at risk. disease – chronic lung disease or more commonly obesity. Only one child under 5 years old was vaccinated.

Heartbreaking scenes.

“They’re struggling to breathe, cough, cough, cough,” Offit said. “A few were sent to the ICU for sedation. We put the attachment down their throat that’s attached to a ventilator, and the parents are crying. “

None of the parents or siblings have been vaccinated, he said.

“This is a virus that thrives in the winter,” he said.

Overall, new cases among Americans of all ages have spiked to their highest levels on record: an average of 300,000 a day, or two and a half times the number just two weeks ago. This highly contagious type of omicron accounted for 59 percent of new cases last week, according to the CDC.

However, there are early signs that the variant causes milder disease than previous versions, and that the combination of a vaccine and booster seems to protect people from the worst effects. its best.

In California, 80 children with COVID-19 were hospitalized in the week of December 20-26, compared with 50 in the final week of November, health officials said.

Seattle Children’s also reported an uptick in the number of children hospitalized over the past week. And while they are less seriously ill than people hospitalized during the summer, Dr John McGuire warns that it is the early stages of the omicron wave, and the full effect will become apparent in the next few weeks.

New York health authorities have also sounded the alarm.

The number of children hospitalized each week in New York City with COVID-19 increased from 22 to 109 between December 5 and December 24. Statewide in New York, the number increased from 70 to 184. Overall, nearly 5,000 children. people in New York who have been in the hospital with COVID-19.

“The quadrupling makes people nervous, but it’s a small percentage,” Ko said of the New York City figures. “Children are at low risk for hospitalization, but children who have not been immunized.”

Al Sacchetti, director of emergency services at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden, New Jersey, also said vaccinated children are handling the omicron outbreak very well.

“It makes a big difference in how these children tolerate illness, especially if the child has some medical problem,” he said.

COVID-19 deaths have been shown to be rare in children throughout the course of the pandemic. As of last week, 721 cases in the US have died from the disease, according to data reported to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The total death toll in the US is more than 800,000.

Nearly 199,000 cases of COVID-19 in children were reported in the week of December 16-23, the pediatric group said. That’s about 20% of the more than 950,000 cases reported that week. .

Dr Jason Terk, a pediatrician in North Texas, said: “While many of these children will recover at home, they may be exposed to others who are at much higher risk of contracting the disease. He cared for a 10-year-old boy with COVID-19, who had the disease well under control, but his father became ill and passed away, he said.

“The death of a parent is regrettable, but the toxic stress on a young person in these circumstances is difficult to measure,” he said.

Copyright 2021 Fort Myers Broadcasting Company. Copyright Registered. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without prior written consent. US children hospitalized with COVID in near-record numbers

Aila Slisco

Aila Slisco is a Dailynationtoday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Aila Slisco joined Dailynationtoday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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