More kids too young for Covid shots hospitalized in US

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HOSPITALIZATION of U.S. children under five years-old with COVID-19 soared in recent weeks to their highest level since the pandemic began, according to government data released Friday on the only age group not yet eligible for the vaccine.

The worrisome trend in children too young to be vaccinated underscores the need for older kids and adults to get their shots to help protect those around them, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since mid-December, with the highly contagious omicron variant spreading furiously around the country, the hospitalization rate in these youngest kids has surged to more than four in 100,000 children, up from 2.5 per 100,000.

The rate among children ages five to 17 is about one per 100,000, according to the CDC data, which is drawn from over 250 hospitals in 14 states.

Overall, “pediatric hospitalizations are at their highest rate compared to any prior point in the pandemic,” Walensky said.

She noted that just over 50 percent of children ages 12 to 18, and only 16 percent of those five to 11, are fully vaccinated.

The overall hospitalization rate among children and teens is still lower than that of any other age group. And they account for less than five percent of average new daily hospital admissions, according to the CDC.

As of Tuesday, the average number of under-18 patients admitted to the hospital per day with Covid-19 was 766, double the figure reported just two weeks ago.

The trend among the very youngest kids is being driven by high hospitalization rates in five states: Georgia, Connecticut, Tennessee, California and Oregon, with the steepest increases in Georgia, the CDC said. (AP)

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