COVID-19 hospitalization rates for children, adolescents rise over summer

Sept. 7, 2021

Weekly COVID-19-associated hospitalization rates among children and adolescents rose nearly five-fold during late June to mid-August 2021, coinciding with increased circulation of the highly transmissible SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

Among adolescents aged 12-17 years, the only pediatric age group for whom a COVID-19 vaccine is currently approved, hospitalization rates were approximately 10 times higher in unvaccinated compared with fully vaccinated adolescents. Overall, the proportions of hospitalized children and adolescents with severe disease were similar before and during the period of Delta predominance.

During March 1, 2020-August 14, 2021, COVID-NET identified 49.7 cumulative COVID-19-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 children and adolescents. Rates per 100,000 were highest among children aged 0-4 years (69.2) and adolescents aged 12-17 years (63.7) and lowest among children aged 5-11 years (24.0). Weekly hospitalization rates were at their lowest in 2021 during the weeks ending June 12-July 3 (0.3 per 100,000 children and adolescents each week). During a subsequent 6-week period after the Delta variant became predominant, rates rose each week to 1.4 during the week ending August 14, 2021, which was 4.7 times the rate during the week ending June 26, 2021 and approached the peak hospitalization rate of 1.5 observed during the week ending January 9, 2021

Among children aged 0-4 years, the weekly hospitalization rate during the week ending August 14, 2021, was nearly 10 times that during the week ending June 26, 2021.

The analysis uses Coronavirus Disease 2019-Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network (COVID-NET) data in 14 states to describe COVID-19-associated hospitalizations among U.S. children and adolescents aged 0-17 years.

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