A recent increase in Covid-19 hospitalizations among people ages 12 to 17 reinforces the importance of practicing prevention measures against the coronavirus and vaccination, according to a study released Friday in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The report looked at hospitalization data for 12- to- 17-year-olds from a large coronavirus surveillance network. It found 204 adolescents who were likely hospitalized primarily for Covid-19 between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2021. Nearly a third — 31.4% — were admitted to intensive care units and 4.9% required invasive mechanical ventilation. There were no associated deaths.
Hospitalization rates among young people from March 1, 2020 to April 24, 2021 peaked in the week ending Jan. 9 at 2.1 per 100,000, then lowered to 0.6 in the week ending March 13. Rates then rose again to 1.3 and 1.2 respectively for the weeks ending April 17 and April 24.
The trend contrasts with hospitalization rates among people age 65 and older – the group with the highest Covid-19 vaccination coverage. During that period, hospitalization rates stabilized for that older age group
Hospitalization rates for adolescents were lower than rates among adults, but exceeded those among children ages 5 to 11. The recent increase in hospitalization rates among people ages 12 to 17 might be related to more transmissible coronavirus variants, large numbers of children returning to school and other indoor activities, and changes in physical distancing, mask wearing and other prevention behaviors, researchers wrote. The Covid-19 vaccine made by Pfizer was authorized for use in people as young as 12 in May.
Compared with flu-associated hospitalization rates, cumulative Covid-19 associated hospitalization rates from Oct. 1, 2020 to April 24, 2021 were 2.5 to 3.0 times higher than three recent flu seasons.
During a White House Covid-19 briefing Thursday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, referenced the research and urged parents to get their teens vaccinated.
“In the month leading up to the recommendations of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for teens and adolescents 12 and older, CDC observed troubling data regarding the hospitalizations of adolescents with Covid-19. More concerning were the number of adolescents admitted to the hospital who required treatment in the intensive care unit with mechanical ventilation,” Walensky said, adding that the data “force us to redouble our motivation to get our adolescents and young adults vaccinated.”
She also recommended that young people continue to wear masks and take precautions to protect themselves and others until they are fully vaccinated.