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In the past three months, the number of children with confirmed COVID-19 at hospital admission has risen consistently, with children under 5 years at highest risk. These findings come from an AAP analysis of data gathered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Recent analysis of the data shows the number of children under age 18 with confirmed COVID-19 at hospital admission increased nearly five-fold from 237 new admissions the week ending June 17 to 1,175 in the week ending Sept. 9 (see Figure 1). June had the lowest level of pediatric COVID-19 hospital admissions since data collection began in 2020.
From June 17 to Sept. 9, hospitalizations with COVID-19 increased for all children but especially for the youngest children. The number of new weekly COVID-19 admissions for children ages 0-4 years increased from 116 to 550 (see Figure 2). While children ages 0-4 are one-quarter of the overall U.S. child population, they comprise roughly half of recent COVID-19 hospital admissions.
When the public health emergency ended in May, only 13% of children ages 0-4 years had received any vaccine dose compared to 68% of children ages 12-17 (https://bit.ly/3pCgq7E).
"This increase in hospitalizations, especially for the youngest children, is very concerning," said AAP President Sandy L. Chung, M.D., FAAP. "We know this is the age group with the lowest vaccination rates. Right now, we have updated COVID vaccines that can help children's immune systems learn to detect and resist the virus, including the strain that is circulating now. The virus is still here, and I'd urge parents to talk with their pediatricians about how they can protect their family."
Since 2020, HHS has required hospitals to provide weekly reports of the number of patients admitted with confirmed and suspected COVID 19 infection.