Third of teens hospitalized for COVID-19 need ICU care; CDC chief urges youth to get vaccinated

A third of adolescents hospitalized with COVID-19 need intensive care, according to CDC data published June 4. 

The CDC examined data from the Coronavirus Disease 2019-Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network, analyzing COVID-19 hospitalizations among adolescents 12-17 years during Jan. 1, 2021, to March 31, 2021, along with hospitalization rates among adolescents from March 1, 2020 to April 24, 2021. 

Among 204 adolescents hospitalized for COVID-19 during Jan. 1 to March 31, 31.4 percent were admitted to an intensive care unit and 4.9 percent required invasive mechanical ventilation; there were no associated deaths. 

Weekly adolescent hospitalization rates peaked at 2.1 per 100,000 in early January 2021, declining to 0.6 in mid-March, and then rising again to 1.3 in April. Cumulative COVID-19 hospitalization rates from Oct. 1, 2020, to April 24, 2021, were two and a half to three times higher than flu-associated hospitalization rates from the three most recent flu seasons. 

On May 10, the FDA expanded emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to include persons aged 12 to 15 years.

Rochelle Walensky, MD, director of the CDC, cited the new report June 4, saying its findings "force us to redouble our motivation to get our adolescents and young adults vaccinated."


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