LANCASTER, Pa. — COVID-19 cases are on the rise in children, as CDC data shows that those under 18 currently make up 26% of new infections.
As the Delta variant surges and children return to in-person classes this school year, more kids are contracting COVID across the country and in Pennsylvania.
COVID cases among school-aged children in Pennsylvania have risen from 650 to 7,298—12 times more—between the week ending Sept. 21 of 2020 and 2021.
As of Sept. 25, Pennsylvania is seeing an average of 11 new pediatric hospitalizations a day, according to CDC data.
Penn State Health alone is currently treating 10 children for COVID-19, one of whom is in the intensive care unit (ICU).
“That figure is definitely much higher than what we've seen even just a couple of weeks ago,” Dr. Karen Krok, vice chair of clinical affairs at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, at a DOH press conference on Sept. 21 said. “Those that are currently being treated for COVID at Penn State Health hospitals, a vast majority of them are actually unvaccinated.”
Less than half of minors age 12 to 18 are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.
Though young children have the lowest hospitalization rate of any group, they’re still the largest unprotected group.
“Young children, those under the age of 12, are not yet vaccinated,” Krok said. “So we do need to continue to wear our masks and employ social distancing.”
To bring hospitalizations down, parents need to be proactive in getting their kids vaccinated, experts said.
Some are eager.
“So many kids are getting sick right now and not as many people think it's a big deal,” Bill Hynes of Lancaster, who has two sons younger than 12 said. “When it's available I believe we will get them vaccinated.”
Other parents remain hesitant.
“[My son’s] doctor told me, 'I think he should get it, get the shot.' I told him no,” Jose Bell of Lancaster said.
Vaccines for children younger than 12 could be coming soon. Over the weekend Pfizer announced they plan to ask the FDA for approval—within days—to give their vaccine to children aged 5 to 11.