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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.

Go deeper: CDC backs moving Moderna booster wait time to 5 months after vaccine

Go deeper

Jan 15, 2022 - Health

Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron

Three COVID-19 testing companies place testing locations outside Grand Central Terminal on Jan. 14 in New York City. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Experts are warning that subsequent COVID-19 variants are likely to come after Omicron, AP reports.

Why it matters: The warnings come as there's no guarantee that subsequent variants "will cause milder illness or that existing vaccines will work against them," underscoring the need for widespread vaccination, AP writes.

Updated 30 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments — Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Biden admin withdraws temporary vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers — New York Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Hochul's mask mandate for public areas — Sarah Palin tests positive, delaying defamation trial — Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker

The Robinhood M&A rumor mill churns

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Robinhood's valuation is now just over $11 billion, a fraction of where it traded in August and below that of its last private round of funding. Cue the M&A mongers.

Why it matters: It's not just Robinhood—falling values of growth-oriented tech stocks have raised speculation that formerly high-flying fintechs could be snapped up by more well-capitalized buyers.