BOSTON — While hospitals in other parts of the country are seeing an increase in pediatric admissions due to COVID-19, that doesn’t seem to be the case in eastern Massachusetts for the most part.
“Knock on wood, we’re not in as difficult a situation as other parts of the country,” says Dr. Vandana Madhavan, a pediatric infection specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “We have higher vaccination rates among our adult population and older teens than many other states in the US and we also have more mandates. And the children have for the most part no longer gone to school.”
By contrast, in southern states, schools have been meeting again for weeks, and public health discussions about wearing masks in several places, including Florida and Texas, where infections have risen, have turned into political discussions.
“We’ve seen a small increase,” says Dr. Tim Gibson, the division director of the Hospitalist Service at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester. “Not important at all. But a handful of teens who come in with a cough and fever and are COVID positive and are essentially sick the way adults have been sick.”
Gibson even said those patients, who had not been vaccinated, needed ICU care.
“We continue to see babies who come in with a fever and who occasionally turn out to have COVID,” Gibson said. “We have a persistently high number of psychiatric patients being admitted; this has been the real crux of COVID in pediatrics, that it has led to a dramatic increase in suicide attempts and eating disorders, and occasionally those patients are COVID positive.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that a growing number of children contracted COVID nationally during the month of August, with more than 180,000 infections added in the week ending August 20. Children still make up the minority of total infections in the US, but the proportion has risen from 14.2% in July to 14.6% last week.
But the hospitalization rate for children with COVID has been stable all summer at 0.9%. The AAP reports that this translates to approximately 2.3% of children with COVID requiring hospitalization.
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