Children and COVID: United States Passes 10 Million Total Cases

Richard Franki

January 25, 2022

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

Weekly COVID-19 cases in children topped 1 million for the first time as the cumulative count surpassed 10 million since the start of the pandemic, based on data from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association.

There were 1.15 million cases of COVID-19 reported in children during the week of Jan. 14-20 in the United States, making it the fourth consecutive record-high week and bringing the total number of cases to 10.6 million, the AAP and CHA said in their weekly COVID report. Those 10.6 million child cases represent 18.4% of all cases, and the latest 1.15 million represented 25.5% of all cases for the week.


Regionally, the South had the most cases with over 380,000 for the week of Jan. 14-20, while the West was next with close to 350,000, followed by the Midwest and then the East. Among the states, the largest percent increases – on the order of 30% – came in New England (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont), as well as Virginia and California, the AAP and CHA said.

Examining all those cases by vaccination status shows an obvious difference between the Omicron and Delta variants: The fully vaccinated have been hit much harder than before. For the week ending Dec. 25, 2021, the incidence of COVID-19 in children aged 12-17 years was 704 per 100,000 among those were unvaccinated and 384 per 100,000 in those who were fully vaccinated. During the Delta surge in the summer of 2021, the peak rates were 938 (unvaccinated) and 79 (vaccinated), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Hospitalizations are also at record levels, but two separate CDC databases seem to show a decline in child admissions over the last available week or so of data, which follows the trend among all ages. The peak among children aged 0-17 years came on Jan. 15, when the rate of new admissions reached 1.25 per 100,000, based on reporting to the CDC from 5,265 hospitals nationwide.

The second database, the COVID-19–Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network (COVID-NET), indicates that children aged 0-4 years had the highest admission rate, 14.5 per 100,000, for the week ending Jan. 8, compared with 5.5 per 100,000 for 12- to 17-year-olds and 2.3 per 100,000 for those aged 5-11 years. COVID-NET covers almost 100 counties in 10 states, along with 4 entire states, and represents about 10% of the U.S. population.

Vaccinations rose briefly in late December and into January to meet the Omicron surge, but the numbers for the latest week show a return to their earlier levels. In children aged 5-11 years, new vaccinations went from 381,000 for the week of Dec. 20-26 to 524,000 for Jan. 3-9, but fell to just 260,000 during Jan. 17-23. The response was a little later for those aged 12-17, with the big week coming Jan. 10-16, but there was still a 38% drop for Jan. 17-23, according to the CDC's COVID Data Tracker.

Currently, 29.3% of all 5- to 11-year-olds have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, and an even 20.0% are fully vaccinated. For children aged 12-17, the corresponding figures are 65.8% and 55.1%, the CDC said.

Statewide vaccination rates vary from Vermont's high of 61% for those aged 5-11 to 12% for Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, while Hawaii has the highest rate for 12- to 17-year-olds at 92% and Wyoming has the lowest at 39%, the AAP reported.

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