The number of children and adolescents hospitalized with COVID-19, mainly the delta variant, have increased five-fold during the summer, according to a study published Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the study, hospitalizations of children ages 0-17 rose during the weeks after July 3, when the rate was at its lowest, increasing 4.7 times by the week of Aug. 14.
The sharpest increase was seen in very young children, ages 0-4 years, with an increase of nearly 10 times the rate for the week of Aug. 14 compared to the rate of the week of June 26.
The study also found that among 68 adolescents hospitalized with the virus from June 20-July 31, 59 were unvaccinated, five were partially vaccinated, and four were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The increase coincides with both the surge in delta variant cases and the return to schools, camps, and other groupings of children, the study found.
“With more activities resuming, including in-person school attendance and a return of younger children to congregate childcare settings, preventive measures to reduce the incidence of severe COVID-19 are critical,” the study said. “Universal indoor masking is recommended for all teachers, staff members, students, and visitors in kindergarten through grade 12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.”
CDC also recommends that childcare centers and other facilities that serve children too young to get one of the three vaccines consider using masks indoors for everyone above age 2, and that all eligible staff should be vaccinated to reduce the risk of illness.
Another study released Friday by the agency found that increased emergency room visits and admissions by children and adolescents during the summer were higher among those without vaccinations and in states with a lower vaccination rate.
In those lower vaccination states, the rate was 3.4 times the amount of emergency room visits and admissions of children and adolescents than those from states with a higher percentage of vaccinated residents.
“Pediatric emergency visits and hospital admissions were higher in August 2021 in states with the lowest vaccination coverage among persons aged 12 years or older,” the study said.
“Although the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant is highly transmissible, only a modest decrease in vaccine effectiveness against infection with the Delta variant has been reported. Therefore, transmission might be a major factor driving increases in emergency visits and hospital admissions. However, beyond community vaccination coverage, other factors driving regional variation might include differences in implementation of other prevention measures, including masking, physical distancing, and K–12 school opening policies.”
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