‘Much of this suffering can be prevented’: CDC urges parents to vaccinate their teens after report shows rising hospitalization ratesJune 4, 2021
Health experts are urging parents to vaccinate their teenagers against COVID-19 after a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed hospitalizations increased months leading up to the vaccine’s authorization for people 12 and up.
The agency’s surveillance system COVID-NET – which covers approximately 10% of the country’s population – found hospitalization rates among adolescents 12 to 17 increased from March 1 to April 24 after declining in January and February, according to the study published Friday in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Among 204 adolescents patients hospitalized for COVID-19 from Jan. 1 to March 31, more than 30% were admitted to the intensive care unit and nearly 5% required mechanical ventilation. More than 35% of patients hospitalized were Black and 31% Latino.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement Friday she was “deeply concerned” and “saddened” by the report’s findings.
“Much of this suffering can be prevented,” she said. “I ask parents, relatives and close friends to join me and talk with teens about the importance of these prevention strategies and to encourage them to get vaccinated.”
As of June 4, approximately 2.3 million 12- to 17-year-olds in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.
Teen hospitalization rates from March 1 to April 24 were still about 12.5 times lower than adults18 and older, but weekly hospitalization rates were higher among adolescents than children between the ages of 5 and 11.
The Food and Drug Administration authorized use of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech on May 10 for children 12 and older. Before that, the vaccine was authorized for people over the age of 16.
Both the mRNA vaccine by Moderna and the single-shot vaccine by Johnson & Johnson are currently authorized for adults 18 and older. Moderna reported May 25 its vaccine has been shown in trials to be safe effective for children as young as 12 and will ask for FDA authorization for its broadened use this month.
Walensky urged teens to continue following public health recommendations until they become fully vaccinated.
“Until they are fully vaccinated, adolescents should continue to wear masks and take precautions when around others who are not vaccinated to protect themselves, and their family, friends, and community,” she said.
Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.
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