Coronavirus: Pediatric hospitalizations spike amid omicron surge

WASHINGTON — Children under the age of 5 are being hospitalized in record numbers, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, confirmed during a Friday media briefing, noting more evidence needs to be collected to determine the reason for the spike in pediatric hospitalizations.

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According to CDC data, 4.3 per 100,000 children 4 years old and younger were hospitalized in the week ended Jan. 1.

By contrast, children ages 5 to 17 had a hospitalization rate of 1.1, while adults ages 18 to 49 had a rate of 4.2, and adults 65 and older had a rate of 14.7, per the CDC data.

Walensky cautioned during the media briefing that the wide disparity in infection rates between adults and the nation’s youngest children in no way discounts the current surge in pediatric hospitalizations, The Hill reported.

According to CDC data, only slightly more than 50% of children ages 12 to 17 and only 16% of those between the ages of 5 and 11 are fully vaccinated.

She also noted that it remains unclear if the uptick can be attributed to the virus sweeping through larger swaths of children’s communities or to the youngsters’ lower vaccination rates, noting that the complete hospitalization figures include those children admitted to hospitals for reasons other than COVID-19 who then tested positive, The Hill reported.

“Please, for our youngest children, those who are not yet eligible for vaccination, it’s critically important that we surround them with people who are vaccinated to provide them protection,” Walensky said. “This includes at home, at day care and preschool and throughout our entire community.”

Meanwhile, she also addressed questions around the CDC’s revised, and controversial, guidelines that shortened the amount of time recommended to isolate or quarantine, noting that data analyses of the contagiousness of past variants weighed heavily in the determination. A similar analysis for omicron, however, will not be ready for several weeks, USA Today reported.

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