Mar 17, 2022 - Health

Omicron hit little kids hard

COVID-19 hospitalization among children 4 years old and under
Data: CDC; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

The Omicron variant resulted in five times as many hospitalizations of children ages 4 and younger than during the previous COVID peak, when the Delta variant was the prevalent strain, according to CDC data released on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The findings are more evidence that the virus can cause severe illness in very young children who aren't eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.

Go deeper: Weekly hospitalizations peaked in early January at 14.5 per 100,000 infants and young children compared to the peak of 2.9 per 100,000 during the Delta wave in mid-September, the agency said.

  • Infants younger than six months accounted for 44% of the Omicron hospitalizations, though indicators of severity like respiratory support didn’t vary by age.
  • 63% of hospitalized infants and children during the Omicron wave had no underlying medical conditions.

Background: Authorizing vaccines for very young children has been one of the thorniest decisions for federal health regulators during the pandemic.

The bottom line: The CDC said infants under six months can receive protection against COVID from antibodies their mothers acquired through vaccines — and urged women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to become pregnant stay current on COVID-19 shots.

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