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U.S. sees rise in child COVID-19 infections as Omicron variant surges

A jump in child COVID-19 hospitalizations in New York is a warning to get more children vaccinated in California and elsewhere

A minor is inoculated with the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine against the coronavirus - © Alfredo Estrella/AFP
A minor is inoculated with the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine against the coronavirus - © Alfredo Estrella/AFP

A jump in child COVID-19 hospitalizations in New York is a warning to get more children vaccinated in California and elsewhere as the Omicron variant continues to surge, according to health officials.

The New York Department of Health reports that from the period starting from December 5 to the present, COVID-19 hospitalizations for children 18 and under increased four-fold, reports Raw Story.

No child admitted to the hospital with COVID-19, between the ages of 5 to 11 years old was vaccinated, and only a third of those over age 11 had received a vaccine.

With children under age five ineligible for vaccination, health department officials warned families in New York that the best protection for very young children “is to ensure all those around them are fully protected through vaccination, boosters, proper mask-wearing, crowd avoidance, and testing.”

New York’s warnings over getting children vaccinated have not been lost on health officials in California. California’s public health director and health officer, Dr. Tomás Aragón, warned that state modelers are predicting hospital surges for California.

California’s state epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan wrote on Twitter: “Unfortunately New York is seeing an increase in pediatric hospitalizations (primarily amongst the unvaccinated), and they have similar [five – to 11-year-old] vaccination rates.”

Besides New York, Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania have been hit hard by pediatric hospitalizations, according to the Washington Post. Nationwide, about 800 new hospital admissions of children have been reported every day for the past three days.

Data out of the United Kingdom also showed that as of December 19, hospital admissions were at 3.64 per 100,000 for children up to the age of four—three times the rate for children ages five to 14, who are eligible for vaccination.

Rising numbers of pediatric cases have convinced officials in some states to order a return to remote learning after the winter break, reports The Guardian. Around 300 schools in Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York will remain closed.

On Sunday, Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, a leading health expert questioned the need for any schools to close. “We know how to keep schools open, we know how to keep them safe. This really shouldn’t even be on the table. I’m disappointed to see this happening.”

Throughout the pandemic, experts have said children are less likely to develop serious illness. For the week from 9 to 16 December, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported 169,964 pediatric Covid-19 cases, representing 1.8% to 4.1% of hospitalized patients.

Written By

Karen Graham is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for environmental news. Karen's view of what is happening in our world is colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in man's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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