Officials with the American Academy of Pediatrics stress that there’s no need for alarm but they do urge that more data be collected concerning children and COVID-19 infection, and they also note that there’s still no vaccine for youngsters 5–12.
A joint report by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children’s Hospital Association indicates that 243,373 children were infected with COVID-19 from September 2 to September 9, 2021. From August 26 to September 9, 2021, there was a 10% increase in reported cases for children.1 (The definition of “child” varies from state to state but in all 49 states reporting, the age starts at 0 years. The higher-end cutoff age varies and can be anywhere from 14 to 20 years.) Children represent 15.5% of all cases in the pandemic up until this point. At present, there are no vaccines for children aged 5 to 12 years.
“At this time, it appears that severe illness due to COVID-19 is uncommon among children,” the AAP stated in a press release about the study.2 “However, there is an urgent need to collect more data on longer-term impacts of the pandemic on children, including ways the virus may harm the long-term physical health of infected children, as well as its emotional and mental health effects.”
In the 11 states reporting testing, children made up from 11.1% to 21.6% of the total cumulated tests, which showed that from 4.9% to 17.8% of children tested positive. Twenty-four states reported hospitalizations, and children accounted for 1.6% to 4% of the total cumulated hospitalizations.
Pediatricians are especially keeping a close eye on multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), MIS-C, “is a condition[in which] different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs.” The CDC admits that it does not “yet know what causes MIS-C. However, many children with MIS-C had the virus that causes COVID-19 or had been around someone with COVID-19.”
Linda Spaulding, RN-BC, CIC, CHEC, CHOP, a member of Infection Control Today®’sEditorial Advisory Board, warns that it’s a mistake to underestimate the harm COVID-19 can do to younger people.
“People keep [saying], ‘Well, the young kids [will] get it. They’ll get over it. It’s no big deal.’ But that’s not the reality of it. There are many young kids that have got COVID-19 and are now dealing with what they’re calling long-haulers disorder. And that’s when they do have heart damage or they have lung damage.”
She added that the disease “can be fatal in kids.”