Sunday, May 22nd, 2022

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Hospitalizations for COVID-19 among children in New York City have risen almost fivefold, Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a news conference on Monday.

During the press briefing, Hochul suggested parents use the school break to vaccinate children, with opportunities to do so available at pharmacies, urgent care centers, state sites and pediatricians.

Hochul’s briefing comes shortly after a health advisory recently sent out by the New York Department of Health warned about an increase in pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Around half of the New York pediatric hospitalizations due to COVID from Dec. 5 to the week starting on Dec. 19 are kids under the age of five — who are not eligible to be vaccinated.

New York’s Acting Commissioner of Health Dr. Mary Basset, back with Hochul after testing positive herself last week, said in New York City, the numbers of pediatric hospitalizations has increased “nearly fivefold,” compared to about 2.5 percent statewide.

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According to state data, the number of pediatric admissions in New York City jumped from 22 cases, from Dec. 5 to 11, to 109 during the Dec. 19 to Dec. 23 period. In the rest of New York State, 48 cases were reported in the week of Dec. 5 to 11, and that number rose to 75 cases last week.

Currently, there are 70 pediatric admissions related to COVID-19, with 184 in New York City, Bassett said.

Bassett added that while the number of actual cases themselves was not high or a cause for panic, she and Hochul were pointing them out to urge parents to get shots in kids’ arms.

“Many parents think children don’t become infected. That’s not true,” Bassett said. “Some do, and will be hospitalized.”

None of the children recently hospitalized in New York between the ages of 5 and 11 were fully vaccinated and only one-quarter of the 12 to 17-year-old patients were fully vaccinated, according to the health memo from the Department of Health.

The data on the majority of children being hospitalized in New York not being vaccinated aligns with the overall hospitalizations numbers seen between vaccinated and unvaccinated at all age groups in the city.

Here is a graph that shows the COVID hospitalization rate in New York City for vaccinated, unvaccinated, and citywide populations.

Photo courtesy of the NYC Health Department
The hospitalization rate for vaccinated NYC residents (orange line) has barely risen in the Omicron case rate surge, but the unvaccinated New York City population has seen a very noticeable increase in hospitalizations.

The New York Health Department recommends the following interventions to stem the number of children being hospitalized with COVID in the state.

Suggested Interventions

Enroll in New York State’s vaccination program at
Continue to strongly recommend COVID-19 vaccination for children age 5 and up and
Boosters for those eligible; discuss vaccination with your patients and parents at every
Remind parents not to assume a mild respiratory illness is a routine “cold”; test for
COVID-19. Counsel parents that although COVID-19 is usually mild in children, there are risks of serious illness and sequelae for children, and if not isolated they can contribute to community transmission.
Continue to recommend other appropriate mitigation measures such as wearing a well-fitting mask, social distancing, and avoidance of crowds.

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