The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is calling on parents to vaccinate their teens against the coronavirus.
It comes as a new one report of the federal health agency found that COVID-related hospitalizations among U.S. children between the ages of 12 and 17 rose 116 percent in April.
At the time, vaccines were not approved for young people under the age of 16, and Pfizer-BioNTech received official approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on May 10.
The report found that one in three children hospitalized had to be admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) and nearly five percent required mechanical ventilation.
In a statement released Friday accompanying the investigation, Dr. Rochelle Walensky that the findings worried her.
“I am deeply concerned about the number of adolescents hospitalized and saddened to see the number of adolescents requiring treatment in intensive care units or mechanical ventilation,” the statement said.
“Much of this suffering can be prevented.”
A new CDC report found that 204 adolescents in 14 states were hospitalized primarily for COVID-19 from January 2021 to April 2021, with 31.4% being admitted to ICUs and 4.9% requiring intubation
The rates of COVID hospitalization in children 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 “worried her” after she saw child hospitalizations rise from 0.6 per 100,000 in mid-March to 1.3 per 100,000 in April. Pictured: Walensky testifies at a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, May 18
For the study, published in the CDC’s weekly MMWR report, the team looked at hospital admissions 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 tested positive, but were looked at separately because their primary reason for admission may not have been directly related to the virus.
Weekly hospital admissions for this age group peaked in January at 2.1 admissions per 100,000 children in January.
The rate then fell to just 0.6 per 100,000 in mid-March, before rising 116 percent in April to 1.3 per 100,000.
Of the group of 204 children, 31.4 percent had to be admitted to ICUs and 4.9 percent had to be intubated. None of the hospitalized children died.
According to the CDC, rates of COVID hospitalization in children were between 2.5 and three times higher than 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 those 18 and older, the agency said.
Despite the lower number of hospital admissions and the fact that the study groups were 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 approaching 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 aged 12 to 17 in the US have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine
Walensky urged parents to vaccinate their teens, saying injections are “the way out of this pandemic.” Pictured: Simon Huizar, 13, receives a first dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccination clinic in Los Angeles, May 14
Since the Pfizer injection was approved for emergency use in teens, 6.5 million of the 25 million have received an initial dose, or 26 percent.
Another 2.3 million young people have been fully vaccinated, according to data from the CDC.
At a news conference on Wednesday, President Joe Biden encouraged even more young Americans to take the photo.
Pfizer’s clinical trial data showed that of the 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 opinion poll, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, parents were asked whether they would have their child vaccinated once a COVID-19 vaccine is approved and available for their child’s age group.
Only about three in ten parents – 29 percent – of children under 18 said they would have their child vaccinated ‘immediately’.
The poll also found that 15 percent only plan to vaccinate their children if the school requires it and 19 percent said their child will definitely not be vaccinated.
In addition, although children can contract COVID-19 and pass the disease on to others, they usually don’t get very sick.
More than 3.97 million children have tested positive for the virus, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, but only 0.1 percent of all deaths.