CDC Chief 'Deeply Concerned' on Teen COVID Cases

Rochelle Walensky cites rising hospitalization rates in plea to parents to get their kids vaccinated
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 4, 2021 1:45 PM CDT
CDC Chief to Parents: Get Teens Vaccinated, Stat
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky is seen May 11, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (Greg Nash/Pool via AP)

The head of the CDC made a plea to parents of teens this week, imploring them to get their kids vaccinated against COVID and citing a study showing increased hospitalization rates of adolescents. "I am deeply concerned," Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Friday, the same day new research showed the bump in hospitalization numbers among kids ages 12 to 17 this spring, per the Washington Post. After numbers fell in January and February, "weekly population-based rates of COVID-19–associated hospitalization among adolescents increased during March and April," the CDC notes, while those 65 and over saw stabilized rates—probably because that latter demographic is getting vaccinated at a higher rate. Walensky said she was "saddened" that, of the 204 kids hospitalized for COVID from Jan. 1 to March 31, 31.4% went to the ICU, while about 5% needed invasive mechanical ventilation.

Researchers theorize the jump in hospitalization rates may be tied to variants, more kids back in school, and alterations in health measures like wearing masks and social distancing. Walensky also addressed another angle regarding the vaccine during a conversation with Gayle King on CBS This Morning, per CBS. King asked Walensky to debunk a claim being made on TikTok that people who get the vaccine are being implanted with microchips. "You put [a] coin on your arm," King said. "If it stays there, it means there's a chip in your arm. ... Can you just put that to rest and say how ridiculous it is?" Walensky was happy to oblige, echoing the word "ridiculous" and noting, "What we're being injected with is this incredible scientific breakthrough that keeps us safe and is effective against something that has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans over the last 15 months." (More vaccination stories.)

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