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COVID-19 Puts More U.S. Children in the Hospital

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What You Need to Know

  • The number of children admitted with COVID-19 grew by 4.6%.
  • All adult age groups had admission counts that were lower than they were the week before.
  • Some of the variants spreading in Brazil and India might be hard on younger people.

The United States seemed to be succeeding at turning a potential fourth wave of COVID-19 cases into a ripple last week, but one key indicator moved in the wrong direction: COVID cases of children.

The total number of new cases recorded during the week ending May 1 fell to 333,018, down 18% from the total for the week before, according to Community Profile Report data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The number of hospital admissions for people with COVID-19 fell 11%, to 33,868.

But the number of hospital admissions for children with COVID-19 increased 4.6%, to 886.

Federal pandemic trackers have age data for about half of the people hospitalized with COVID-19. The age group for people under age 18 was the only one with an increase in the hospitalization rate. For people ages 18 to 29, for example, the number of hospitalizations fell 3.2%, to 2,310.

Vaccination Constraints

One possible explanation for the increase in COVID-19 hospitalization rates for children, at a time when hospitalization rates for people in other age groups is falling, is that the United States has not yet approved use of any COVID-19 vaccine for people under 16.

The United States has organized aggressive efforts to vaccinate people ages 60 and older, and health care workers of all ages, and many colleges have organized vaccination campaigns for their students.

About 56% of all U.S. residents ages 18 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

President Joe Biden said Tuesday, at a briefing in the White House, that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could approve use of COVID-19 vaccines on children ages 12 to 15 soon.

Once the FDA approves COVID-19 vaccinations for children ages 12 to 15, the country will make vaccinations available for those children through about 20,000 pharmacy sites and through pediatricians’ offices, Biden said.

Pfizer Inc. said Tuesday, when it released earnings for the first quarter, that it and a partner, BioNT, have started testing the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on children ages 6 months to 11 years.

One reason for concern about children is the possibility that the COVID-19 variants behind the current pandemic surges in Brazil, India and other countries appear to be leading to serious illness in many children and young adults, as well as in older adults.

Hard numbers on the impact of the pandemic on children are scarce, but Save the Children, for example, has estimated that COVID-19 itself has increased child mortality in India by about 15%, and that the effects of COVID-19 on India’s health care system could lead to many more deaths.

(Image: Adobe Stock)


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