the 199,000 added cases reported the week ending Dec. 23rd and an almost doubling of case counts from the two weeks prior.”
While serious illness from COVID is still rare for younger children, the sheer number of new cases worries doctors.
“It seems like people have tried to downplay the significance of the disease in children,” Dr. Mark Kline, the physician-in-chief at Children’s Hospital New Orleans says. “We’ve spent two years rebutting myths pertaining to COVID and children, that it’s ‘harmless’ for children. It’s not.”
Kline is not the only pediatric infectious disease doctor who is worried about climbing COVID hospitalizations among children.
“I have never seen an infection sweep an entire country in a matter of a week or two,” Dr. David Kimberlin, co-director of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told NBC News. “The rate of cases in my portion of Alabama is like a rocket ship. It reflects how much virus is out there in the community. With that, we’re going to see increasing hospitalization numbers.”
Dr. Chethan Sathya, a pediatric surgeon at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York, part of Northwell Health, says that “literally every child” he and his team operated on or was seeing over the last weekend was COVID-positive. Even if their illnesses weren’t specific to the coronavirus, they stretched resources nevertheless.
The Pfizer booster shot had been authorized for people ages 16 and up. The two other COVID vaccines, from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, are only authorized for adults 18 and up.
About 70% of Americans ages 12 and older are now fully vaccinated, according to the CDC, but about 1.8 million adolescents in the 12- to 15-year-old demographic have already tested positive for the virus.
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