Children's Hospitals Fill Up

Number of pediatric COVID patients has risen 13% in 10 days
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 24, 2021 4:45 PM CST
Children's Hospitals Admit 800 Per Day
Damarion Roby, 2, holds the stuffed animal he was presented for Christmas on Monday at Children's of Mississippi in Jackson.   (Barbara Gauntt/The Clarion-Ledger via AP)

Children largely escaped illness during last winter's COVID-19 surge. Not this time. In many parts of the nation, pediatric hospitals already are dealing with a surge in admissions, now that the omicron variant has arrived before their delta patients have recovered and gone home, the Washington Post reports. And that's on top of the usual cases of the flu, accidents, and regular treatments for young patients with cancer and other conditions. Over the past three days, admissions are averaging about 800 a day at children's hospitals.

A Post analysis shows 1,987 confirmed or suspected pediatric COVID patients in US hospitals as of Thursday. That's a 31% increase over the past 10 days. Most cases have been mild so far, doctors say. But the age group that worries health officials most right now is children under 5, who are too young to be vaccinated. Children overall are the largest unvaccinated group in the nation, per ABC, despite the fact that everyone over 5 has been eligible for a dose since at least late October. More than 90 million Americans have not had a dose of vaccine, 51 million of them under 18.

Even if the cases are mild, hospitals worry about capacity because omicron is infecting so many people. At University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, almost every bed is claimed. The hospital already is "in a crisis," a specialist said. Health experts again urged parents to have their children vaccinated. After almost two years of this, "everyone is tired, and everyone is frustrated," conceded the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. "I think our kids are struggling," Dr. Lee Beers said. (More COVID-19 stories.)

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