The omicron-fueled COVID-19 outbreak in the United States is placing children in the hospital in near-record numbers, with specialists lamenting the fact that most of the children are unvaccinated.
Dr. Paul Offit, an infectious disease expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said, “It’s just so awful.” “It was difficult enough last year, but now you know how to avoid all of this.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 334 children 17 and younger were hospitalized to hospitals with the coronavirus each day during the week of Dec. 21-27, a 58 percent rise from the week before.
The pandemic’s last high point was in early September, when child hospitalizations averaged 342 per day, according to the CDC.
On a more upbeat note, children continue to make up a modest fraction of individuals brought to hospitals with COVID-19: during the same week in December, an average of nearly 9,400 persons of all ages were admitted every day. Many physicians also believe that the kids who are coming in now appear to be in better health than those who came in during the summer’s tidal influx.
According to CDC data, roughly 14% of 5- to 11-year-olds are totally protected two months after immunizations were approved. The percentage among 12- to 17-year-olds is greater, at over 53%.
In many situations, said Dr. Albert Ko, professor of epidemiology and infectious diseases at Yale School of Public Health, the issue is time. The vaccination was not authorized for younger children until November, and many are only now getting their second dosage, he added.
Even though two-thirds of the vaccine-eligible children receiving care at Offit’s hospital about a week ago had underlying conditions that put them at risk — chronic lung disease or, more commonly, obesity — Offit said none of the vaccine-eligible children receiving care at his hospital had been vaccinated. Only one of them was under the age of five at the time of immunization.
The scenes are painful to watch.
Offit stated, “They’re trying to breathe, coughing, coughing, coughing.” “A small number of people were sent to the ICU to be sedated. The parents are sobbing as we insert the connection down their throat that is connected to a ventilator.”
He said that neither the parents nor the siblings had been vaccinated.
He predicted that the following four to six weeks would be difficult: “This is a virus that flourishes in the winter.”
Overall, new cases in all age groups in the United States have reached record highs: an average of 300,000 per day, or 2 1/2 times the number just two weeks ago. According to the CDC, the highly infectious omicron accounted for 59 percent of new infections last week.
Nonetheless, preliminary evidence suggests that the variety produces milder sickness than prior variants, and that the combination of the vaccination and booster appears to shield patients from the worst consequences.
According to health officials in California, 80 COVID-19-infected youngsters were hospitalized to hospitals during the week of December 20-26, compared to 50 the week before.
The number of youngsters admitted to Seattle Children’s Hospital has also increased in the last week. While they are not as gravely ill as those admitted to hospitals over the summer, Dr. John McGuire cautioned that the omicron wave is still in its early stages, and the full impact would not be felt for many weeks.
Health officials in New York have also issued a warning.
Between December 5 and December 24, the number of children hospitalized to hospitals in New York City with COVID-19 increased from 22 to 109 each week. It increased from 70 to 184 over the whole state of New York. COVID-19 infected about 5,000 individuals in New York, putting many in the hospital.
“A fourfold increase raises eyebrows, but it’s really a small proportion,” Ko said of the New York City data. “Children have a minimal chance of being admitted to the hospital, but those who are are not vaccinated.”
Vaccinated youngsters are also weathering the omicron epidemic well, according to Dr. Al Sacchetti, chief of emergency services at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden, New Jersey.
“It makes a tremendous difference in how these kids endure the sickness,” he added, especially if the youngster has medical problems.
Over the duration of the epidemic, 19 children have died in an extremely unusual occurrence. According to data published to the American Academy of Pediatrics last week, 721 people in the United States have died from the condition. More than 800,000 people have died in the United States.
According to the pediatricians division, about 199,000 kid COVID-19 cases were recorded in the week of December 16-23. That amounted to around 20% of the total cases recorded that week, which totaled more than 950,000.
While many of these children will heal at home, others who are at far greater risk may come into touch with them, according to Dr. Jason Terk, a doctor in North Texas. He looked after a 10-year-old youngster who had COVID-19 and was doing well, but his father became ill and died, he added.
“While the death of a parent is tragic, the toxic stress experienced by a child in this scenario is impossible to quantify,” he added.