The Washington Post said Friday that its figures show more than 4,000 pediatric hospitalizations, including confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients.
The paper reported that fewer than 2,000 children were in hospitals with COVID-19 less than two weeks ago.
“The seven-day average of pediatric hospitalizations was slightly lower at 3,713. Hospitalizations of adults are also rising rapidly,” the Post said.
The U.S. is urging that everyone ages 12 and older get a COVID-19 booster as soon as they are eligible as the omicron variant of the coronavirus spreads around the country.
Courtney Martin, left, a nurse at the University of Washington Medical Center, gives the first shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to Ani Hahn, 7, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
It is critical that we protect our children and teens from COVID-19 infection and the complications of severe disease,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.
“This booster dose will provide optimized protection against COVID-19 and the omicron variant. I encourage all parents to keep their children up to date with CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine recommendations,” she said.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only option for American children of any age and the agency says about 13.5 million children ages 12 to 17 have received two shots.
Although experts cautiously say that omicron appears to cause less severe disease and fewer hospitalizations, White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that the variant of concern spreads much more easily than other variants.
Omicron currently accounts for more than 90% of U.S. cases.
“The sheer volume of infections because of its profound transmissibility will mean that many more children will get infected,” Fauci said.
COVID-19 cases in U.S. children and teenagers nearly doubled in the last two weeks of December, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.
From Dec. 22-28, an average of 378 children 17 and under were admitted per day to hospitals with COVID-19, which the CDC said was a 66% increase from the week before.
During the week of Dec. 27 to Jan. 2, an average of 672 children 17 and under were admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 – more than double the number from the previous week.
Overall, new COVID-19 cases in Americans of all ages have risen to the highest levels on record.
New York, which warned about the rise in pediatric hospitalizations at the end of the year, set a record of 85,476 cases on Saturday, breaking the state’s record set just days earlier. The surge in cases came amid high numbers of testing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.