The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director urged teenagers to get vaccinated, as new data from the agency’s researchers showed one in three teenagers who were hospitalized due to COVID-19 early this year needed ICU admission.
“I am deeply concerned by the numbers of hospitalized adolescents and saddened to see the number of adolescents who required treatment in intensive care units or mechanical ventilation,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement on Friday.
The rate of hospitalization due to COVID-19 increased among adolescents aged 12 to 17 in April to 1.3 per 100,000 people from a lower rate in mid-March, the CDC said in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
Among 204 adolescents, who were hospitalized mainly for COVID-19 between Jan. 1 and March 31, 31.4% were admitted to an intensive care unit and about 5% required mechanical ventilation, the agency said.
“Much of this suffering can be prevented,” Walensky said.
The CDC’s latest data was based on a surveillance system of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19–associated hospitalizations in 99 counties across 14 states, covering approximately 10% of the U.S. population.
The data adds to previous information showing that hospitalizations due to severe COVID-19 occur in all age groups even though they occur more often in older adults. The CDC released the data as part of the United States’ push to vaccinate teenagers with Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech SE’s vaccine.
The shot was authorized for use in 12 to 15 year olds in May. Nearly 50% of the U.S. population, 12 years and older, has been fully vaccinated, according to the agency’s data.
The increased hospital admission rates in teens may be related partly to the circulation of more infectious variants of the coronavirus and a large number of children returning to schools, the agency said.