SEATTLE (AP) — The omicron-fueled surge that is sending COVID-19 cases rocketing in the U.S. is putting children in the hospital in close to record numbers, and experts lament that most of the youngsters are not vaccinated.
“It’s just so heartbreaking,” said Dr. Paul Offit, an infectious-disease expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “It was hard enough last year, but now you know that you have a way to prevent all this.”
During the week of Dec. 21-27, an average of 334 children 17 and under were admitted per day to hospitals with the coronavirus, a 58% increase from the week before, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The previous peak over the course of the pandemic was in early September, when child hospitalizations averaged 342 per day, the CDC said.
On a more hopeful note, children continue to represent a small percentage of those being hospitalized with COVID-19: An average of over 9,400 people of all ages were admitted per day during the same week in December.
And many doctors say the youngsters coming in now seem less sick than those seen during the delta surge over the summer.