New York City has seen a 4-fold rise in pediatric hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in the two-week period between Dec. 5 to Dec. 19, with half the admissions being children under 5 years of age, according to a Dec. 24 statement released by the New York State Department of Health.
New York State Governor Kathy Hochul co-issued the statement with Acting Health Commissioner Mary T. Bassett to local healthcare providers, recommending “COVID-19 vaccination for children age 5 and up and boosters for those eligible.”
The statement reported that “none of the 5-11 year-old patients was fully vaccinated” in the most recent week (Dec. 19) and “only a quarter of 12-17 year-old patients (7 patients out of 30 admissions) were fully vaccinated.”
“Although COVID-19 is usually mild in children, there are risks of serious illness and sequelae for children, and if not isolated they can contribute to community transmission,” the statement continued.
A January 2021 study by Yale University researchers found that there was a low risk of children spreading COVID-19 to adults, as adults in daycare facilities are more likely to contract COVID-19 as a result of high community transmission rates.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the rise in “child COVID-19 cases” in the two weeks between Dec. 5 and Dec. 19 corresponds to a 5 percent increase (368,515 cases) compared to the start of the pandemic.
Of all hospitalizations recorded to date in states reporting to the AAP, children accounted for 1.8–4.1 percent of total cumulated hospitalizations, with 0.1–1.8 percent of all child COVID-19 cases resulting in hospitalization.
As of Dec. 28, AAP reported that zero to 0.03 percent of all child COVID-19 cases resulted in death, with five states reporting zero child deaths. This amounts to “nearly 100 deaths” in the 5–11 age group as of mid-October 2021, according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention).
While doctors have also reported seeing a rise in positive results from children’s COVID-19 tests, they told The Washington Post that most cases have been mild and resemble the common cold.
The AAP also stated that “severe illness due to COVID-19 is uncommon among children” as of Dec. 28 according to its website.
However, the CDC has reported 2,300 cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) to date whereby children develop inflammation in different body parts including vital organs like the heart and brain, or the digestive tract.
“We do not yet know what causes MIS-C,” the CDC website stated. “However, we know that many children with MIS-C had the virus that causes COVID-19, or had been around someone with COVID-19.”
The CDC currently recommends vaccinating children five years and above. As of Dec. 28, only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is authorized for use in children between 5-17 years of age, according to the CDC website.
Adolescents 16 years and above are also recommended by the CDC to receive a third booster shot.