News from the FDA/CDC

Children and COVID: Weekly cases can’t sustain downward trend


New COVID-19 cases in children inched up in late October, just 1 week after dipping to their lowest level in more than a year, and some measures of pediatric emergency visits and hospital admissions rose as well.

There was an 8% increase in the number of cases for the week of Oct. 21-27, compared with the previous week, but this week’s total was still below 25,000, and the overall trend since the beginning of September is still one of decline, based on data from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

Number of weekly COVID-19 cases reported in children, United States

A similar increase can be seen for hospitalizations with confirmed COVID. The rate for children aged 0-17 years fell from 0.44 admissions per 100,000 population at the end of August to 0.16 per 100,000 on Oct. 23. Hospitalizations have since ticked up to 0.17 per 100,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Emergency department visits with diagnosed COVID among children aged 16-17 years, as a percentage of all ED visits, rose from 0.6% on Oct. 21 to 0.8% on Oct. 26. ED visits for 12- to 15-year-olds rose from 0.6% to 0.7% at about the same time, with both increases coming after declines that started in late August. No such increase has occurred yet among children aged 0-11 years, the CDC reported on its COVID Data Tracker.

One small milestone reached in the past week involved the proportion of all COVID cases that have occurred in children. The total number of child cases as of Oct. 27 was almost 14.9 million, which represents 18.3% of cases in all Americans, according to the AAP and CHA. That figure had been sitting at 18.4% since mid-August after reaching as high as 19.0% during the spring.

The CDC puts total COVID-related hospital admissions for children aged 0-17 at 163,588 since Aug. 1, 2020, which is 3.0% of all U.S. admissions. Total pediatric deaths number 1,843, or just about 0.2% of all COVID-related fatalities since the start of the pandemic, the CDC data show.

The latest vaccination figures show that 71.3% of children aged 12-17 years have received at least one dose, as have 38.8% of 5- to 11-year-olds, 8.4% of 2- to 4-year-olds, and 5.5% of those under age 2. Full vaccination by age group looks like this: 60.9% (12-17 years), 31.7% (5-11 years), 3.7% (2-4 years), and 2.1% (<2 years), the CDC reported. Almost 30% of children aged 12-17 have gotten a first booster dose, as have 16% of 5- to 11-year-olds.

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