US CDC director urges teens to get vaccinated after COVID-19 hospitalisations rise

REUTERS: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director urged teenagers to get vaccinated, as new data from the agency’s researchers showed one in three teenagers who were hospitalised due to COVID-19 early this year needed ICU admission.

“I am deeply concerned by the numbers of hospitalised adolescents and saddened to see the number of adolescents who required treatment in intensive care units or mechanical ventilation,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement on Friday.

The rate of hospitalisation due to COVID-19 increased among adolescents aged 12 to 17 in April to 1.3 per 100,000 people from a lower rate in mid-March, the CDC said in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

Among 204 adolescents, who were hospitalised mainly for COVID-19 between Jan 1 and Mar 31, 31.4 per cent were admitted to an intensive care unit and about 5per cent required mechanical ventilation, the agency said.

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“Much of this suffering can be prevented,” Walensky said.

The CDC’s latest data was based on a surveillance system of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19–associated hospitalisations in 99 counties across 14 states, covering approximately 10 per cent of the US population.

The data adds to previous information showing that hospitalisations due to severe COVID-19 occur in all age groups even though they occur more often in older adults. The CDC released the data as part of the United States’ push to vaccinate teenagers with Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech SE’s vaccine.

The shot was authorised for use in 12 to 15 year olds in May. Nearly 50 per cent of the US population, 12 years and older, has been fully vaccinated, according to the agency’s data.

The increased hospital admission rates in teens may be related partly to the circulation of more infectious variants of the coronavirus and a large number of children returning to schools, the agency said.

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