The Omicron variant is exploding in the United States, resulting in thousands of COVID-19 hospitalisations among children. This raises new concerns about how the unvaccinated Americans below the age of 18 will fare.
Doctors stated that the most severe COVID-19 symptoms seen in children hospitalized this month are difficulty breathing, high fever and dehydration.
They need oxygen and help breathing. They also need to be hydrated. They're sick enough to be admitted to the hospital. That's frightening for parents and doctors. Rebecca Madan, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at New York University's Langone Health hospital network, said that.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the number of COVID-19 infections has risen to over one million per day.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 58 per cent of children hospitalized between December 21 and 27 increased in a seven-day period. Schools were closed during the winter holidays, which led to an increase in cases.
Omicron may cause more severe illnesses in children than doctors believe, but Omicron's extremely high transmissibility is one of the key factors driving up hospitalizations.
It is spreading faster and more people are being infected. "We've seen numbers rise, we've witnessed hospitalizations in children go up," Dr Jennifer Nayak, a paediatrician and infectious disease expert at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said.
Nayak stated that "What we are seeing now is that children younger than five are not vaccinated."
There is currently no vaccine that has been approved in the USA for children below the age of 5. New York City data show that children younger than 5 years old account for nearly half of all new hospital admissions.
The US's largest city has one the highest vaccination rates, but only 40 percent of children aged 5-17 are fully vaccinated, as compared to more than 80 percent for adults, according to city health data.
New York City hospitalizations of 18-year-olds increased from 22 the week beginning December 5, to 109 the week ending December 19. The week ended December 19 saw an increase in hospitalizations for people aged 18 and younger across the state to 184, up from 70 on December 5.
Others in the US are also seeing an increase in children's hospitalisations. According to data from Ohio Hospital Association, Ohio has seen an increase of 125 percent in hospitalizations for children under 17 years old in the last four weeks.
According to CDC data, Florida, New Jersey, and Illinois saw a doubling in the average seven-day hospitalization of underage patients during the week.
Experts warn that Omicron cases will increase even more in the US after schools reopen next Monday.
Before the holidays, over a thousand classrooms were either partially or fully quarantined because of outbreaks in New York City. Following the winter recess, the city announced that it would reopen schools for approximately a million children on January 3.
According to the CDC, less than 25% of the 74,000,000 Americans aged under 18 have been vaccinated nationally. The vaccination rates of young children are lower than those of other age groups. Some families hesitate to give a new vaccine to their children.
William Schaffner, an expert in infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, stated that "the virus has just been capable of outsmarting - penetrate beyond -- what it is the parents did to shelter those children,"
Mayor Bill de Blasio said that New York City will ring 2022 in Times Square despite the increasing infections.
De Blasio said, "We want the world to see that we are moving forward" on NBC's Today show.