Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky reported Friday that there have been a record number of pediatric hospitalizations due to COVID-19 and announced new isolation guidelines for students, staff and teachers to preserve in-person learning in schools.
During a media briefing, Walensky cautioned that pediatric hospitalizations are at the highest point they have ever been during the pandemic, even though they are much lower when compared to adults. She said it’s still not clear if the increase is due to a greater burden of disease in children’s communities or their lower rates of vaccination.
The increase was seen most in children younger than 4, who are ineligible for vaccination, and the data include those admitted to hospitals for reasons other than COVID-19 who then tested positive.
“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,” Walensky said. “This includes at home, at day care and preschool and throughout our entire community.”
According to CDC data, in the week ending Jan. 1, children under the age of 4 had 4.3 COVID-19 associated hospitalizations per 100,000. Children ages 5 to 17 had only 1.1 hospitalizations per 100,000. Both are well under the rate of 14.7 in adults over 65.
Currently just over 50 percent of children ages 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated and 16 percent of ages 5 to 11 are fully vaccinated.