Children and COVID: New Cases Up Slightly, Vaccinations Continue to Slow

Richard Franki

December 22, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

New COVID-19 vaccinations in children were down by almost 24% in the last week as new cases rose by just 3.5%, based on new data.

That fairly low number suggests the latest case count from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association has not caught up yet to the reality of the Omicron variant, which has sent new cases climbing among all ages and now represents the majority of COVID-19 infections nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

 

Meanwhile, in the midst of the latest surge, the United States just passed yet another sobering COVID milestone: 1,000 deaths in children aged 17 and under. The total as of Dec. 20 was 1,015, according to the CDC, with the largest share, almost 32%, occurring in children less than 5 years of age.

The 3.5% increase in child cases brought the total to nearly 170,000 for the week of Dec. 10-16, the fifth such rise in the last 6 weeks and the 19th consecutive week with a count of over 100,000 dating back to mid-August. Regionally, the majority of that increase came in the Northeast, with a small rise in the South and decreases in the Midwest and West, the AAP and CHA said in their weekly COVID report.

At the state level, the largest percent increases in cases over the past 2 weeks were seen in Maine and New Hampshire, as well as Vermont, which has the nation's highest vaccination rates for children aged 5-11 (51%) and 12-17 (84%), the AAP said in its vaccination trends report.

Nationally, new COVID vaccinations in children continue to trend downward. The number of children aged 5-17 years who had received at least one dose increased by about 498,000 for the week of Dec. 13-19, down from 654,000 (–23.9%) the previous week. Children aged 5-11 years still represented the largest share (22.7%) of all vaccine initiators in the last 2 weeks, but that proportion was 42.8% just before Thanksgiving, according to data from the CDC.

On a more positive note, children aged 5-11 made up 51% of all Americans who completed the vaccine regimen during the 2 weeks ending Dec. 20. The cumulative completion count is 3.6 million in that age group, along with almost 13.4 million children aged 12-17, and the CDC data show that 6.1 million children aged 5-11 and 15.9 million children aged 12-17 have received at least one dose.

On a less positive note, however, that means almost half (47%) of 12- to 17-year-olds still are not fully vaccinated and that over a third (37%) have received no vaccine at all, according to the COVID Data Tracker.

This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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