Child COVID hospital cases up in low-vaccination states

Girl on oxygen in hospital
Girl on oxygen in hospital

Halfpoint / iStock

Today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) present new data on US COVID-19 hospitalization rates in children and adolescents, which shows kids in states with low vaccination rates saw hospitalizations increase four times compared to states with high vaccination rates.

The trend was most notable in the Southern United States, the authors said.

Among persons aged 17 or younger, COVID-19–related emergency department (ED) visits and hospital admissions in the states with the lowest vaccination coverage were 3.4 and 3.7 times that in the states with the highest vaccination coverage during the most recent 2-week period (Aug 14 to 27).

"Since July 2021, after Delta had become the predominant circulating variant, the rate of new COVID-19 cases and COVID-19–related ED visits increased for persons aged 0–4, 5–11, and 12–17 years," the CDC wrote.

The highly transmissible Delta (B1617.2) variant has caused a summer surge of activity across the United States. The country reported 153,143 new COVID-19 cases and 1,588 deaths yesterday, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker, and the 7-day average of new daily cases is 163,339, according to the Washington Post tracker.

Unvaccinated teens more likely to be hospitalized

In a second MMWR study today, authors show pediatric hospitalization rates reaching pandemic highs by Aug 14, but the proportion of kids severely ill with COVID-19 remained the same before and after Delta became the dominant strain in the United States.

The study was based on data from the Coronavirus Disease 2019–Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network (COVID-NET), which tracks COVID-19–associated hospitalizations among US children and adolescents aged 17 and younger.

"The weekly COVID-19–associated hospitalization rate per 100,000 children and adolescents during the week ending August 14, 2021 (1.4) was nearly five times the rate during the week ending June 26, 2021 (0.3)," the authors said. "Among children aged 0–4 years, the weekly hospitalization rate during the week ending August 14, 2021, was nearly 10 times that during the week ending June 26, 2021."

The hospitalization rates were approximately 10 times higher in unvaccinated 12- to 17-year-olds compared with fully vaccinated adolescents, which suggests vaccines are highly effective at preventing serious COVID-19 illness in this age-group, the authors said.

All Americans 12 and older are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. According to the CDC, 61.7% of Americans 12 and older are fully vaccinated.

10,000 COVID deaths per week

For the first time since March, the country is reporting more than 10,000 COVID-19 deaths each week, a USA Today analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. At the end of June, the United States had been reporting 1,525 deaths per week, accounting for a 562% increase.

The fourth wave of the pandemic has resulted in other critical care patients from receiving the care they need, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal. For instance, the Associated Press says Nevada has a severe shortage of nurses, and some northern Nevada hospitals are nearly out of staffed beds for patients.

Other US developments

  • President Biden plans to invest $2.7 billion to ramp up US production of critical vaccine components, the New York Times reports.

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has appealed a judge's ruling that he does not have the authority to ban school districts from authorizing mask mandates without a parental opt-out, according to CNN.

  • King County, Washington, will start requiring masks at outdoor events with more than 500 people, the Washington Post reports.

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