health

CDC director pleads with parents to vaccinate teens after hospitalizations for ages 12-17 rose


The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is pleading with parents to vaccinate their teenagers against the coronavirus.

It comes as a new report from the federal health agency found that COVID-19-related hospitalizations in U.S. children between ages 12 and 17 rose by 116 percent in April.

At the time, vaccines were not approved for youngsters under age 16, with Pfizer-BioNTech getting the official nod from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on May 10. 

The report found one out of three kids who were hospitalized required admission to intensive care units (ICUs) and nearly five percent needed mechanical ventilation. 

In a statement released on Friday accompanying the study, Dr Rochelle Walensky said the findings worried her.

‘I am deeply concerned by the numbers of hospitalized adolescents and saddened to see the number of adolescents who required treatment in intensive care units or mechanical ventilation,’ the statement read.

‘Much of this suffering can be prevented.’ 

A new CDC report found 204 adolescents in 14 states were hospitalized primarily for COVID-19 from January 2021 to April 2021 with 31.4% admitted to ICUs and 4.9% requiring intubation

A new CDC report found 204 adolescents in 14 states were hospitalized primarily for COVID-19 from January 2021 to April 2021 with 31.4% admitted to ICUs and 4.9% requiring intubation

Rates of COVID hospitalization in kids were between 2.5 and three times higher than the rates during the 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20 flu seasons

Rates of COVID hospitalization in kids were between 2.5 and three times higher than the rates during the 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20 flu seasons

CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky said the findings 'concerned' her after seeing kids' hospitalization rates rise from 0.6 per 100,000 in mid-March to 1.3 per 100,000 in April. Pictured: Walensky testifies during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, May 18

CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky said the findings ‘concerned’ her after seeing kids’ hospitalization rates rise from 0.6 per 100,000 in mid-March to 1.3 per 100,000 in April. Pictured: Walensky testifies during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, May 18

For the study, published in the CDC’s weekly MMWR report, the team looked at hospitalizations in children ages 12 to 17 from January 1 to April 24, 2021.

Researchers found a small group, 204 adolescents in 14 states, who were likely hospitalized primarily for COVID-19.

Another 172 who were hospitalized had a positive test, but were looked at separately because their primary reason for admission might not have been directly related to the virus. 

Weekly hospitalizations for this age bracket peaked in January at 2.1 admissions per 100,000 children in January.

The rate then declined to as low as 0.6 per 100,000 in mid-March before rising by 116 percent to 1.3 per 100,000 in April.  

Of the group of 204 kids, 31.4 percent had to be admitted to ICUs and 4.9 percent required intubation. None of the hospitalized children died. 

According to the CDC, rates of COVID hospitalizations in kids were between 2.5 and three times higher than the rates during the 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20 flu seasons.

But rates of COVID hospitalization in children were also 12.5 times lower than rates for aged 18 and older, the agency said.

Despite the lower hospitalization rate and the fact that the study groups was so small, Walensky encouraged vaccination.  

‘Vaccination is our way out of this pandemic,’ she said in her statement. 

‘I continue to see promising signs in CDC data that we are nearing the end of this pandemic in this country; however, we all have to do our part and get vaccinated to cross the finish line.’  

More than a quarter of all children between ages 12 and 17 have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. 

Walensky urged parents to vaccinated their teenagers and said shots are 'the way out of this pandemic.' Pictured: Simon Huizar, 13, receives a first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccination clinic in Los Angeles, May 14

Walensky urged parents to vaccinated their teenagers and said shots are ‘the way out of this pandemic.’ Pictured: Simon Huizar, 13, receives a first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccination clinic in Los Angeles, May 14

Since the Pfizer shot was approved for emergency use in teenagers, 6.5 million out of 25 million have gotten an initial dose, or 26 percent.

An additional 2.3 million youngsters are fully vaccinated, according to data from the CDC. 

During a press conference on Wednesday, President Joe Biden encouraged even more young Americans to to get the shot.

Pfizer’s clinical trial data found that out of 2,200 teenage participants, a total of 18 cases of COVID-19 were reported in the placebo group while no cases were reported in the vaccine group.

This means that the vaccine was 100 percent safe and effective in 12-to-15-year-olds, according to the researchers. 

However, despite the promising results, many parents are not enthusiastic about vaccinating their children.

In a recent poll, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, parents were asked if they would get their child immunized once a COVID-19 vaccine is authorized and available for their child’s age group.

Only about three in 10 parents – 29 percent – of children under 18 said they would get their child vaccinated ‘right away.’ 

The poll also found 15 percent only plan to vaccinate their children if the school requires it and 19 percent said their child will definitely not be getting vaccinated. 

What’s more, although children can contract COVID-19 and pass the disease on to others, they tend to not get very ill. 

More than 3.97 million children have tested positive for the virus, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, but only make up 0.1 percent of all deaths. 



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