More children in the US are testing positive for coronavirus as the nation hits records in cases and hospitalizations. The most recent wave of the virus is driven in large part by the Omicron variant, which research shows causes less severe disease but is more contagious. Even with the new version, children are still far less likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19 than adults.
“The Omicron variant tends to be more mild in children than adults,” said David Buchholz, professor of pediatrics at Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center.
Vaccination further reduces the risk of serious illness, and children 5 years of age and older are eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Children 12 years of age and older are eligible for a booster shot if it has been at least five months since their second dose.
Looking for Vaccines or Boosters? Go to Vaccines.gov.
Children are testing positive for COVID-19 at a higher rate than senior citizens – the most vaccinated age group – but less than most other adults.
Jason Salemi, an epidemiology professor at the University of South Florida, said, “Young children are better vaccinated than any other age group, and of course, children under the age of 5 are protected through vaccination.” Can’t be done.”
Children have made up more than 7 million COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began. The United States has seen more than 60 million cases in total.
More children are being admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 than ever before.
Jennifer Bakani McKennie, a family physician and Wilson County health official, said, “Although Omicron has been found to cause minor illness, it is still infecting so many people, including children, that children with chronic or comorbid conditions may become infected. obliged to.” Fredonia, Kansas. “Then they are the ones who end up in hospitals because of COVID or because COVID triggered them to aggravate their chronic condition.”
A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which examined the hospitalizations of children with COVID-19 last fall, determined that two-thirds of patients had an underlying condition. Hospitals report that a similar proportion of children admitted during the omicron wave have underlying conditions.
So far this surge causes less severe disease than the delta version, said Buchholz, a professor of pediatrics at Columbia. “Children who are admitted to the hospital tend to get sick less often and that’s really for croup-like symptoms as opposed to pneumonia.”
Of the more than 840,000 people who died of COVID-19 in the United States, nearly 1,000 were children. Death is not a common outcome for children who contract COVID-19. Children with underlying conditions are at greater risk.
“We expect cases to continue to rise in many parts of the US for the next one to three weeks,” said Salemi, a USF epidemiology professor. “We’re just coming out of holiday gatherings, and kids are going back to school where they absolutely need to.” Given the “astonishing number of new infections” in children every day, Salemi expects more children to be hospitalized for COVID-19 in the coming weeks.
Experts say that masks, social distancing and vaccination are the most reliable ways to protect children from COVID-19. Mass testing in schools is another way to mitigate the impact of the outbreak.
A USA TODAY analysis in November found the rapid rise of COVID-19 among children versus adults in most states following the start of school, but the school’s impact became more pronounced in places where schools implemented mask requirements. was banned or given to the districts. ability to choose.
Looking for kids masks? Here’s to Finding the Best People
Photo illustration by Veronica Bravo.
Jennifer Portman, Erin Richards and Chrissy Thompson contributed to this report.