Pediatric COVID-19-related hospitalizations have hit all-time highs in the U.S., with the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting over 50,660 admissions through the month of August thus far.
The current 7-day average, calculated for the week of Aug. 17-Aug. 23, is about 309 daily hospital admissions among Americans ages 0-17 with confirmed COVID-19 marking a peak high. The number marks an 11.4% increase from the prior 7-day average of 277.
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 are currently seeing the sharpest rise in admissions.
Although the trends are ticking upward, the number calculates to about 0.42 new admissions per 100,000 Americans ages 0-17 with confirmed COVID-19, which is behind older age demographics, according to CDC data. The highest average remains in those ages 70 and older, where the number is 8.62 per 100,000.
Health officials have long said that the best way to protect the youngest Americans who are not yet eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination is to ensure that everyone around them who can receive their shots. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this week granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for everyone ages 16 and up.
The vaccine is currently available to children ages 12-15 through emergency use authorization.
But as younger children account for more and more cases of COVID-19, officials are concerned that parents may seek off-label use for the vaccine in children that have not yet been deemed eligible.
“That would be a great concern that people would vaccinate children, because we don’t have the proper dose, and we don’t have the safety data, nor do we have all the efficacy data,” Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said during a media briefing Monday. “We need to get the information and data on uses in younger children. They are not just small adults. We’ve learned that time and time again.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a statement following the FDA’s approval also discouraging administering the vaccine to children younger than 11 at this time.
“We know parents are eager to be able to give their children the protection of this vaccine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics shares that feeling of urgency,” Dr. Lee Savio Beers, AAP president, said. “The delta variant has led to significant increases in the number of children and adults infected with the virus. While we wait for a vaccine to be authorized for younger children, it’s important that everyone who is eligible now get the vaccine. That will help reduce the spread of the virus and protect those who are too young to be vaccinated.”