Two new studies by the CDC revealed that COVID-19 hospital rates among children and adolescents have skyrocketed since the emergence of the Delta variant.
Mask mandates and other COVID precautions for children have been a contentious subject. It seems that no amount of heartbreaking stories of unvaccinated people begging for others to get the vaccination with their literal dying breath has spurred an inoculation increase in the states hit hardest by the pandemic. Children under the age of 12 are currently not eligible for the vaccine, and as the school year ramps up into full gear across the country, so do the COVID-19 associated hospitalization rates for kids, as two new studies by the CDC show.
The first study spanned from March 1, 2020, to August 14, 2021, and found a strong correlation of increased hospitalizations of children between late June to mid-August — just as the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant started circulating in the United States. This is a five-fold increase from the period prior to the emergence of the Delta variant, which has been compared to chicken pox in terms of its contagious nature.
The silver lining of this alarming correlation is that the Delta variant does not seem to be any more severe than other strains. “Although we are seeing more cases in children and more overall cases, these studies demonstrated that there was not increased disease severity in children,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky explained during a press conference. “Instead, more children have COVID-19 because there is more disease in the community,” which makes sense. If adults are choosing not to get the vaccination, it’s not like it is just their child at risk; the pool of potential infections has increased dramatically as kids go back to school. The study also found that hospitalization rates were 10 times higher for adolescents who were eligible for the vaccine but did not receive it.
The second study confirms another fairly obvious correlation about vaccination and hospitalization rates.
The CDC’s second report found that during a two-week period in August, COVID-19-related emergency hospital visits and admissions for children and adolescents were the highest in the states that also have the lowest vaccination rates. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone — time and time again studies have shown the efficacy of the vaccination and the exponentially increased risk of infection without it — which makes it all the more gut-wrenching to see it all unfold in real time.
“What is clear from these data is community-level vaccination coverage protects our children,” Walensky said. “We know what we need to do to protect our children: get vaccinated, wear masks, and follow CDC guidance. We must come together to ensure that our children, indeed our future, remain safe and healthy during this time.”