What You Need to Know
- The number of all patients entering the hospital with COVID-19 is falling.
- The number of children entering the hospital with COVID-19 is also falling, but more slowly.
- In five states and the District of Columbia, at least 5.9% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the latest week were under 18.
A combination of mask-wearing, social distancing, vaccinations and variant trends is continuing to help the United States reduce the number of people with new, serious cases of COVID-19.
The total number of people admitted to a U.S. hospital with confirmed COVID-19 fell to 21,559 during the week ending May 22, according to tracking data compiled by a federal government working group. That number is down 17% from the number of admissions recorded a week earlier, and it’s down 44% from the number recorded four weeks earlier.
But the number of admissions of people under 18 has fallen just 23% in the past four weeks, to 640.
In the typical U.S. state, about 3% of the patients who entered the hospital with COVID-19 in the week ending May 22 were children.
In five states and the District of Columbia, 5.9% or more newly admitted COVID-19 patients were children. For a look at those states, see the slideshow above.
In some states, such as Illinois, Ohio and Wisconsin, the actual number of children entering the hospital with COVID-19 appears to be going up, not down.
For children’s COVID-19 hospitalization data for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, see the table below.
The Vaccination Gap
Improvement in children’s COVID-19 hospitalization rate may be relatively slow partly because of efforts to get children’s lives back to normal. Easing of social distancing restrictions may be exposing children to more people, and more chances to get COVID-19, even as the odds that any given person has COVID-19 are falling.
Another factor may be access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Federal officials approved emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds in December 2020, but many states coped with a shortage of vaccines, and concerns about the ratio of benefits to risks for younger people, by aiming vaccination campaigns at older adults.
President Joe Biden ordered all states to provide access to COVID-19 vaccines to all adults ages 16 and older by May 1.
The government approved emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 12 to 15 May 10.
About 62% of adults in the United States have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As of May 25, people ages 16 and 17 were about 33% less likely than other U.S. residents to have received a COVID-19 shot.
People ages 12 to 15 were 70% less likely to have started getting vaccinated.
Only about 100,000 younger children have been vaccinated. Those children appear to be participants in the vaccine makers’ vaccine safety trials.
The gap could be of interest to life and health insurers, because the B.1.617.2 variant of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19, appears to be spreading rapidly in some parts of England.
B.1.617.2 is the variant that has been filling hospitals and using up oxygen in India and some other countries in Asia. It
Public health officials have reported that the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine appears to be 88% effective against the B.1.617.2, and about 93% effective against the much more common B.1.1.7 variant. That means a full Pfizer vaccination should provide good protection against the B.1.617.2 variant, according to United Kingdom public health officials.
But the Pfizer vaccine is only 33% effective against symptomatic B.1.617.2 disease three weeks after the first dose, and 50% effective after three weeks against the B.1.1.7 variant. That means children who are just partially vaccinated against the B.1.617.2 variant may be more likely to get sick if they contract the B.1.617.2 strain.
U.K. officials said they believe getting even one dose of a vaccine is likely to provide much better protection against severe illness than against mild illness.
But some officials have suggested that one risk of the spread of the B.1.617.2 variant is that an increase in the number of people who have that variant could lead to an increase in the number of opportunities the variant has to develop mutations that will make the variant resistant to the current vaccines.
For health insurers and issuers of juvenile life insurance, children’s vulnerability to new strains of COVID-19 could correlate with an increase in direct exposure to claims involving illness in children.
For life insurers who focus primarily on providing life insurance and disability insurance for adults, children’s vulnerability to a new strain could lead to concerns about the possibility that the strains infecting children could eventually mutate and pose a threat to fully vaccinated adults.
Hospital Admissions for Patients Under 18 With Confirmed COVID-19
|Week Ending May 22||Week Ending April 24|
|Total Admissions||Number of COVID-19 Patients Under 18||Patients Under 18 as a % of All Admissions||Total Admissions||Number of COVID-19 Patients Under 18||Patients Under 18 as a % of All Admissions|
|District of Columbia||51||3||5.9%||130||10||7.7%|