Pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations are at record high in Alabama; immediate measures necessary

Pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations are at record high in Alabama; immediate measures necessary
Doctors with the Alabama Department of Public Health said that 71 pediatric patients were hospitalized as of Jan. 13 due to COVID-19. The agency urges parents to take the current COVID-19 outbreak seriously as it poses a very real threat to the health and well-being of their children. (Getty Images)

Hospitalizations of children in Alabama due to COVID-19 are at a record high, and immediate measures need to be taken to reduce COVID-19 in the pediatric population, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH).

Officials reported 2,091 patients admitted to Alabama hospitals on Jan. 13 with confirmed COVID-19. Out of that number, 71 were pediatric patients. Three pediatric patients were in intensive care units, including one on a ventilator. There were also 41 pregnant women admitted, with one in intensive care and one on a ventilator.

The ADPH and the Alabama Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), urge parents to minimize their children’s exposure to COVID-19 in schools and public places, wear well-fitting masks in schools and get vaccinated if they are eligible.

On Jan. 13, there were 9,266 total COVID-19 cases reported in Alabama. Here are the percentage of cases broken down by age:

·  Cases among ages 0-4:  3.1%.
·  Cases among ages 5-11:  4.3%.
·  Cases among ages 12-17:  5.3%.

“In the crisis of higher virus transmission with the omicron variant, immediate measures are critical,” ADPH District Medical Officer Dr. Wes Stubblefield said. “Schoolwide masking is at the top of the list of preventive steps that need to be implemented. Masks can still make a difference in school settings and allow students to remain in class, if properly used.”

Only 10.5% of children in the 5- to 11-year-old age group have received a vaccine. For ages 12-17, 35.5% have initiated vaccine. According to the latest school dashboard, there were 16,035 cases of COVID-19 in Alabama schools this week with all but four of the 143 districts reporting. There were 2,940 cases reported last week.

Dr. Katrina Skinner, president of the Alabama Chapter, AAP, said, “The omicron variant of COVID-19 is extremely contagious and fast-spreading. Pediatric hospitalizations are at record high numbers, and we continue to see children with serious complications of COVID-19 infections such as MIS-C. Parents should take the current COVID-19 outbreak seriously as it poses a very real threat to the health and well-being of their children. Children depend on their parents to protect them by minimizing their exposure to high-risk settings, to teach good masking practices and other preventive measures, as well as getting them vaccinated if eligible.”

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