Pediatric COVID-19-related hospitalizations have hit an all-time high in the US, with the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting more than 50,660 admissions in the month of August so far.
The current 7-day average, calculated for the week of Aug. 17-Aug. 23, is about 309 daily hospitalizations among Americans aged 0-17, with confirmed COVID-19 marking a high. The number marks an 11.4% increase from the previous 7-day average of 277.
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The agency’s data reflects HHS Region 4, which includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, and HHS Region 6, which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, as the areas currently seeing the strongest increase in admissions.
While the trends are rising, according to CDC data, the number calculates at about 0.42 new admissions per 100,000 Americans aged 0-17 with confirmed COVID-19, trailing the demographics of older ages. The highest average remains in the ages of 70 and older, where the number is 8.62 per 100,000.
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Health officials have long said that the best way to protect the youngest Americans who are not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination is to make sure everyone around them can get their injections. Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for anyone 16 years of age and older.
The vaccine is currently available to children aged 12-15 years through emergency use consent.
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But as younger children are responsible for more and more cases of COVID-19, officials are concerned that parents may be seeking off-label use of the vaccine in children who are not yet eligible.
“It would be a big concern that people would vaccinate children because we don’t have the right dose, and we don’t have the safety data, nor do we have all the data on efficacy,” Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said during a media briefing Monday. “We need information and data on its use in younger children. It’s not just little adults. We’ve learned that over and over.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a statement following FDA approval, also discouraging the administration of the vaccine to children under 11 years of age.
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“We know that parents are eager to give their children the protection of this vaccine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics shares that sense of urgency,” said Dr. Lee Savio Beers, AAP president. “The delta variant has led to a significant increase in the number of children and adults infected with the virus. While we wait for a vaccine to be approved for younger children, it’s important that everyone who qualifies gets the vaccine now. the spread of the virus and the protection of those who are too young to be vaccinated.”