A collaborative study conducted by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and six hospitals, published December 31 in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly, underscores the importance of vaccination for protecting pediatric patients from the Delta variant of SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
CDC partnered with six children’s hospitals to review medical record data for 915 patients aged younger than 18 years with COVID-19–related hospitalizations during July–August 2021. The hospitals were located in areas with high COVID-19 incidence during July–August 2021 (Arkansas, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, and Texas), when the Delta variant was the predominant circulating strain in the U.S. As of May 12, 2021, the CDC had recommended COVID-19 vaccinations for individuals aged 12 years and older.
Fully vaccinated was defined as having received 2 doses of an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine ≥14 days before hospital admission date. Partially vaccinated was defined as having received only 1 dose of an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine ≥14 days before hospitalization. All vaccinated patients in this study received the Pfizer-BioNTech (BNT162b2) vaccine.
Among the 713 pediatric patients hospitalized for COVID-19 from the overall study population, 38.1% were vaccine-eligible based on their age group. Among those 272 patients, only one (0.4%) was fully vaccinated and 12 (4.4%) were partially vaccinated at the time of hospitalization.
More than one-fifth (21.5%) of the patients hospitalized for COVID-19 were aged between 5 and 11 years, a finding that supports the CDC's November 12 recommendation that children in that age group be vaccinated.
"This study demonstrates that unvaccinated children hospitalized for COVID-19 could experience severe disease and reinforces the importance of vaccination of all eligible children to provide individual protection and to protect those who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated," the authors wrote.