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Omicron variant may cause spike in hospitalizations of children, reports say

Recent spikes in hospitalizations among children has raised concern in California and New York

Students wear masks while leaving the Nest school on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021, in New York.
Students wear masks while leaving the Nest school on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021, in New York.
Brittainy Newman, Associated Press

The omicron variant may be leading to an increase in hospitalizations among children, raising concerns from health experts across the country.

Per The Los Angeles Times, California health officials recently said that there has been a jump in child hospitalizations from COVID-19 in New York, where the omicron wave has been hitting.

  • “Unfortunately NY is seeing an increase in pediatric hospitalizations (primarily amongst the unvaccinated), and they have similar (5- to 11-year-old) vaccination rates,” Dr. Erica Pan, the California state epidemiologist, wrote on Twitter this week. “Please give your children the gift of vaccine protection as soon as possible as our case (numbers) are increasing rapidly.”

So far, half the children admitted to hospitals are younger than 5, meaning they can’t be vaccinated against COVID-19 yet, according to The Los Angeles Times.

  • About 75% of 12- to 15-year-olds who were admitted were not fully vaccinated.
  • About 100% of those 5 to 11 years old were not fully vaccinated.

Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and health economist, said that New York City saw a “4-fold” increase in pediatric hospital COVID-19 admissions during the week of Dec. 19 compared to Dec. 5 — which is about when the omicron variant started to hit the United States.

In the days after the omicron variant was first discovered, The Daily Beast reported that the highly transmissible omicron variant sent huge numbers of unvaccinated children — who were younger than 5 years old — to the hospital in South Africa.

  • “The trend that we’re seeing now, that is different to what we’ve seen before, is a particular increase in hospital admissions in children under 5 years,” said Waasila Jassat, a South African government adviser, according to The Daily Beast.
  • “We’ve always seen children not being very heavily affected by the COVID epidemic in the past, not having many admissions. In the third wave, we saw more admissions in young children under 5 and in teenagers, 15-19, and now, at the start of this fourth wave, we have seen quite a sharp increase across all age groups, but particularly in the under 5s.”