Medical Technology

Children and COVID: New Cases Increase for Third Straight Week

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

New cases of COVID-19 in children rose for the third consecutive week, while vaccinations among 5- to 11-year-olds continued to steadily increase, according to new data.

There were almost 142,000 new cases reported during the week of Nov. 12-18, marking an increase of 16% over the previous week and the 15th straight week with a weekly total over 100,000, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association said.

Regional data shows that the Midwest has experienced the largest share of this latest surge, followed by the Northeast. Cases increased in the South during the week of Nov. 12-18 after holding steady over the previous 2 weeks, while new cases in the West dropped in the last week. At the state level, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont again reported the largest percent increases, with Michigan, Minnesota, and New Mexico also above average, the AAP and CHA said in their weekly COVID-19 report.

Data from the CDC shows similar trends for both emergency room visits and hospital admissions, as both have risen in November after declines that began in late August and early September.

The total number of pediatric cases is 6.77 million since the pandemic began, based on the AAP/CHA accounting of state cases, although Alabama, Nebraska, and Texas stopped reporting over the summer, suggesting the actual number is higher. The CDC puts the total number of COVID-19 cases in children at 5.96 million.

The Vaccine Gap Is Closing

Vaccinations among the recently eligible 5- to 11-year-olds have steadily increased following a somewhat slow start. The initial pace was behind that of the 12- to 15-years-olds through the first week of eligibility but has since closed the gap, based on data from the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker.

Altogether, just over 3 million children aged 5-11 have received at least one dose, which is 10.7% of that age group’s total population. Among children aged 12-17, the proportions are 60.7% with at least one dose and 51.1% at full vaccination. Children aged 5-11, who make up 8.7% of the total US population, represented 42.8% of all vaccinations initiated over the 2 weeks ending Nov. 21, compared with 4.2% for those aged 12-17, the CDC said.

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