The number of hospitalized children in the United States with COVID is almost a record

The omicron-fueled spike in COVID-19 cases in the United States is almost a record number of children in hospitals, and experts lament that most young people are not vaccinated.

“It’s so heartbreaking,” said Dr. Paul Offit, infectious disease expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Last year it was tough enough, but now you know you have a way to prevent all of this.”

During the week of December 21-27, an average of 334 children aged 17 and younger were admitted to hospitals with coronavirus every day, up 58% from the previous week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The previous peak of the pandemic came in early September, when there were an average of 342 hospitalizations for children per day, according to the CDC.

Even more encouraging, children still make up a small percentage of those hospitalized with COVID-19: on average, over 9,400 people of all ages were admitted daily for the same week in December. And many doctors say the young people coming in now seem less sick than those seen in the summer during the Delta Surge.

Two months after vaccinations have been approved for children ages 5 to 11, about 14% are fully protected, according to the CDC. This figure is higher for children between the ages of 12 and 17 and is about 53%.

In many cases, timing is an issue, said Dr. Albert Coe, professor of epidemiology and infectious disease at the Yale School of Public Health. Young children were not allowed to receive the vaccine until November, he said, and many are only now starting a second dose.

Offit said none of the vaccinated children receiving treatment at his hospital about a week ago were vaccinated, although two-thirds of them had underlying medical conditions that put them at risk – either chronic lung disease or more commonly obesity. … Only one was under 5 years old.

The scenes are heartbreaking.

“They struggle to breathe, cough, cough, cough,” Offit said. “Several people were sent to the intensive care unit for sedation. We put a device in their throat, which is attached to a ventilator, and the parents cry. “

According to him, none of the parents, brothers and sisters were also vaccinated.

The next four to six weeks will be tough, he said. “This is a virus that thrives in winter.”

Aria Shapiro, 6, spent her 12th day Thursday at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. She tested positive for COVID-19 after receiving the first dose of the vaccine on December 17.

Aria, considered “medically fragile” due to epilepsy, suffered from prolonged seizures in the hospital and at one point had to get a breathing tube inserted, although she has been getting better since then.

“We lived our lives for two years to prevent her from contracting COVID, finally went to the vaccine, and something happened that we did not want,” said her mother, Sara Shapiro. “Her body didn’t have enough time to make antibodies. She eventually contracted COVID. ”

Overall, new cases of COVID-19 among Americans of all ages have skyrocketed to an all-time high of an average of 300,000 a day, or 2.5 times more than just two weeks ago. The highly contagious omicron was responsible for 59% of new cases in the last week, according to the CDC.

However, there are early indications that this variant is causing milder disease than previous versions, and that the vaccine and booster combination appears to be protecting people from its worst effects.

In California, 80 children infected with COVID-19 were admitted to hospital during the week of December 20-26, up from 50 in the last week of November, health officials said.

Seattle Children’s also reported an increase in the number of children hospitalized over the past week. Although they are less seriously ill than those hospitalized in the summer, Dr. John McGuire warned that this is the start of a wave of omicrons, and all the effects will become evident over the next few weeks.

New York health authorities have also sounded the alarm.

The number of children admitted to a hospital in New York City with COVID-19 per week from December 5 to 24 increased from 22 to 109. Across New York State, it increased from 70 to 184. Overall, there are almost 5,000 people in New York. York were hospitalized with COVID-19.

“A fourfold increase makes everyone jump up and down with anxiety, but that’s a small percentage,” Co said of the New York City data. “Children have a low risk of hospitalization, but those who do are not vaccinated.”

Dr. Al Sacchetti, chief of emergency services at Notre Dame Lourdes Medical Center in Camden, NJ, also said the vaccinated children are doing very well with the omicron outbreak.

“It goes a long way in how these children cope with the disease, especially if the child has health problems,” he said.

Deaths from COVID-19 among children during the pandemic have proven to be rare. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 721 people have died from the disease in the United States as of last week. The total death toll in the United States is over 800,000.

A group of pediatricians reported that nearly 199,000 childhood cases of COVID-19 were reported during the week of December 16-23. That’s about 20% of the more than 950,000 cases reported this week.

“While many of these children are recovering at home, they may be in contact with others who are at much greater risk,” said Dr. Jason Turk, a North Texas pediatrician. He was caring for a 10-year-old boy with COVID-19 who was coping well with the disease, but his father fell ill and died, he said.

“The death of a parent is horrible, but the toxic stress for a young person in this situation is difficult to measure,” he said.

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