Jan 7, 2022 - Health

COVID hospitalizations surge in children too young for vaccine

A medical workers puts on a maskbefore entering a negative pressure room with a Covid-19 patient in the ICU ward at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Massachusetts on January 4, 2022

A medical worker puts on a mask before entering a negative pressure room with a COVID-19 patient in the ICU ward at UMass Memorial Medical Center on Jan. 4. Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

Hospitalizations of children under 5 have reached their highest levels since the COVID-19 pandemic began, AP reports.

Why it matters: Children under 5 are the only age group ineligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, highlighting the need for those that are eligible to get vaccinated to protect young children, according to Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, per AP.

Driving the news: The hospitalization rate in children under 5 reached more than 4 in 100,000 since mid-December, compared to about 1 per 100,000 hospitalizations for children ages 5 to 17, per AP.

  • Additionally, at least nine states have reported record numbers of COVID-related pediatric hospitalizations, including Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., according to an NBC News analysis.
  • The number of pediatric hospitalizations includes those who are admitted because of COVID-19 and those that are admitted for other reasons but test positive for the virus, Walensky said.

The big picture: The data come as pediatric vaccinations remain low. Just over 50% of children ages 12 to 18 are fully vaccinated and only 16% of those 5 to 11 are fully vaccinated, per AP.

  • NIAID director Anthony Fauci last week encouraged parents to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19 to prevent "avoidable" hospitalization in an interview on NewsNation's "Morning in America."
  • "Virtually all, not 100% but close to that, of the children who are seriously ill in our hospitals from COVID-19 are children whose parents decided they did not want to vaccinate them," Fauci said.

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