The omicron variant is now causing more than 1 million U.S. kids to become infected with COVID each week, according to the American Academy for Pediatrics
The omicron wave of the pandemic may be receding in much of the U.S., but the highly contagious variant is still shattering records when it comes to one demographic of cases: kids. The American Academy for Pediatrics reported Tuesday that more than 1 million U.S. kids were infected last week, breaking the record set just the week before. Around 20 percent of all pediatric cases recorded in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic have now occurred in the last two weeks.
According to the report, just under 1,151,000 new pediatric cases were reported nationwide for the week ending Jan. 20. That’s a 17 percent increase from the week before, when a new record was set with 981,000 new cases in kids.
In the last two weeks, pediatric cases have nearly doubled. The only good news is that it’s still rare for kids to become severely ill or require hospitalization for COVID, including the omicron variant. While the rate of hospitalization for kids had been at 0.8 percent since last October, it finally dropped this month to 0.7 percent.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that high numbers of pediatric cases in the last few weeks don’t correlate to more severe illness for kids, but are actually a symptom of omicron’s high contagiousness, as well as low vaccination rates among U.S. children. Kids 5 and over are eligible for COVID vaccines, but their vaccination rates remain low. Kids under 5 are still not authorised to receive the shots.
“This very well may be just the fact that there are more cases out there, and our children are more vulnerable when there are more cases around them,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a press conference earlier this month. “We have not yet seen a signal that there is any increased severity with this variant.”
Still, public health experts are urging parents to get their kids vaccinated as soon as they’re eligible. To find available vaccines near you, visit vaccines.gov.