More Children Are in Hospital With COVID Than Ever

Walensky urges surrounding young children with people who are vaccinated
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 7, 2022 4:45 PM CST
More Children Are in Hospital With COVID Than Ever
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) speaks during an interview with the Associated Press on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, in Atlanta. The CDC on Wednesday gave new details of the first U.S. cases of the new omicron variant of COVID-19.   (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

(Newser) – It's not clear whether more children are being hospitalized with COVID-19 because they aren't vaccinated or because they're dealing with more spread in their communities, the CDC director said Friday. Either way, the Hill reports, the hospitalization rates for child COVID patients is higher than it's ever been during the pandemic, said Rochelle Walensky, who issued new guidelines and a plea. "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," she said. "This includes at home, at day care and preschool and throughout our entire community."

In response, the CDC is tweaking its isolation guidelines for students, staff, and teachers in an effort to keep schools open. The isolation period after an infection is shortening to five days, the same as the recommendation for health workers and the general public. The hospitalization increase was among children 4 and younger, per the New York Times, who aren't eligible for coronavirus vaccine doses. Other age groups have not shown an increase, which has experts wondering if the omicron variant is harder on the youngest children. Data show children who've contracted omicron are still less likely to become seriously ill than adults.

About 16% children ages 5 to 11 have been fully vaccinated, Walensky said in urging that the vaccine be given to everyone who's eligible as soon as possible. One hospital, Seattle Children's, reports that about 21% of children are testing positive for the coronavirus now; the average was about 1% for most of the pandemic, reaching 3% during the delta variant surge. (Read more Rochelle Walensky stories.)

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