Experts Worried As Child COVID Hospitalizations Rise Across U.S.

by Madison Vanderberg
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Experts warn that more kids under 11 need to get vaccinated amid the Omicron spread

As the highly transmissible Omicron variant becomes the dominant COVID strain in the U.S., hospitals are filling up again like we haven’t seen since 2020, but this time, the virus is putting an alarming number of children in the hospital and experts are worried that not enough kids under 11 are getting vaccinated.

CBS News reports that the U.S. is averaging 260 pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations a day, up nearly 30% from last week. Plus NBC News report that in the last four weeks, the average number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 jumped 52 percent, from 1,270 kids hospitalized with COVID on November 29 to 1,933 on Sunday, December 26, 2021.

NBC News states that five most worrisome states with the highest rates of pediatric hospitalizations include: Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio.

The alarming trends began in the Northeast, especially New York state, where state officials said that pediatric hospitalizations in New York City increased five-fold from the start of December, and almost all of the kids that were hospitalized were unvaccinated.

“We need to get child vaccinations up. We need to get them higher than they are, particularly in the 5- to 11-year-old age group,” said Mary T. Bassett, the acting commissioner of the New York State Department of Health.

This news out of New York was significant considering CBS News reports that roughly 27% of 5-11-year-olds are vaccinated in New York, whereas nationwide, that number falls to 23% vaccine uptake. What happened in New York city could happen in other states as the winter COVID surge spreads.

Dr. Stanley Spinner, who is chief medical officer at Texas Children’s Pediatrics & Urgent Care in Houston, tells CNN that child COVID hospitalizations are in the rise in his state too.

“We do everything we can to keep a child out of the hospital. So if they’re admitted to the hospital, then that means that they’re already pretty sick,” Spinner said. “They’re needing oxygen. They’re needing some other assistance. Even if they’re just really dehydrated, needing IV fluids, most of these kids that we’re admitting for Covid are kids that have respiratory issues — that they need oxygen and they need other support. So they’re going to be pretty sick.”

And just like in New York city, Spinner says, “I can tell you that virtually all of our kids that are hospitalized have either been unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated — maybe having received one dose but not having the second dose and not having the full protection from the vaccine.”

While the numbers may be alarming, the overwhelming message here is this: Get your eligible kids vaccinated and for your kiddos under five, the best way to protect them is for the rest of the family to be vaccinated. The COVID vaccine is safe for teens and kids, it has undergone rigorous trials and safety reviews, but if you’re still on the fence, speak to your doctor about vaccinating your family.