Sept. 3 (UPI) — Children in states with low vaccination rates were nearly four times as likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 compared to those living in states with higher vaccination levels, according to data released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, virus-related emergency room visits and hospital admissions for young people ages 17 and younger increased over the summer across all 50 states, the data showed.
From June through August, infection rates among children and teens by eight- to 10-fold nationally, the agency said.
For children age 4 and younger, case rates rose to 16 per 100,000 people in the general population in August from less than 2 per 100,000 in June, it said.
In August, there were 29 cases per 100,000 people in the general population among children ages 5 to 11, up from less than 2 per 100,000 in June, according to the CDC.
By the end of August, there were nearly 33 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the general population for teens ages 12 to 17, above the just under 3 per 100,000 reported in June, agency researchers said.
Among children and teens, “COVID-19 cases and associated emergency department and hospital admissions increased” between June and August of this year — with the largest spikes coming during the first three weeks of August — the CDC researchers wrote.
In addition, “this analysis found that the percentage of COVID-19 hospitalizations resulting in ICU admission has remained near 20% since Delta became the predominant [COVID-19] variant” in the United States, they said.
In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, young people generally were considered to be at lower risk for serious illness from the virus.
However, with the emergence of the Delta variant, which is believed to be more contagious and causes more serious symptoms, this has started to change.
In a separate analysis, also released Friday, the CDC reported that COVID-19 hospitalizations among children age 4 and younger have risen 10-fold since the Delta variant first emerged in the United States in the spring.
Researchers reviewed data on more than 3,100 children and adolescents across 14 states that have been hospitalized with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 through June 19 of this year, according to the CDC.
Just under 27% of them were admitted to the ICU and 6% required mechanical ventilation to maintain breathing, the data showed.
During that period, 21, or fewer than 1%, of the hospitalized young people in the 14 states included in the analysis died from the virus.
However, from June 20 through July 31, 23% of hospitalized children and teens have required ICU treatment and 10% have needed ventilator support, according to the CDC.
Three percent of young people hospitalized with the virus in these 14 states since June 20 have died.
The states with the lowest percentages of people vaccinated against COVID-19 saw the highest rates of pediatric hospitalizations due to the virus, the CDC said.
In August, hospital admissions related to the virus among young people were nearly four times higher in states “with the lowest vaccination coverage” compared with those with the highest vaccination rates, the data showed.
Among adolescents age 12 to 17, who have been eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine since May, hospitalization rates were roughly 10 times higher in the unvaccinated than in those fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
“With more activities resuming, including in-person school attendance and a return of younger children to congregate child care settings, preventive measures to reduce the incidence of severe COVID-19 are critical,” the agency researchers said.
“Universal indoor masking is recommended for all teachers, staff members, students and visitors in kindergarten through grade 12 schools, regardless of vaccination status,” they said.