Children and COVID: ED Visits and New Admissions Change Course

Richard Franki

August 17, 2022

New child cases of COVID-19 made at least a temporary transition from slow increase to decrease, and emergency department visits and new admissions seem to be following a downward trend.

There were almost 87,000 new cases reported during the week of Aug. 5-11, which is down by 10% from the previous week after 4 consecutive weeks of increases, according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association. For some historical perspective, the latest weekly count falls below last year’s Delta surge figure of 121,000 (Aug. 6-12) but above the summer 2020 total of 26,000 (Aug. 7-13).


Pediatric cases since the start of the pandemic now total almost 14.3 million, which represents 18.4% of all reported cases, based on AAP/CHA data collected from state and territorial health departments that applied varying definitions to the age of affected children and may no longer be reporting at all. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which use a standard age range to define child cases from all states and territories, puts the total number of cases at 14.6 million and total deaths at 1,736 in children aged 0-17 years.

Measures of Serious Illness Finally Head Downward

The prolonged rise in ED visits and new admissions over the last 5 months, which continued even through late spring when cases were declining, seems to have peaked, CDC data suggest.

The data for new admissions present a similar scenario: an increase starting in mid-April that continued unabated into late July despite the decline in new cases. By the time admissions among children aged 0-17 years peaked at 0.46 per 100,000 population in late July, they had reached the same level seen during the Delta surge. By Aug. 7, the rate of new hospitalizations was down to 0.42 per 100,000, the CDC said on its COVID Data Tracker.

The Vaccine Is Ready for All Students, but …

As children all over the country start or get ready to start a new school year, the only large-scale student vaccine mandate belongs to the District of Columbia. California has a mandate pending, but it will not go into effect until after July 1, 2023. There are, however, 20 states that have banned vaccine mandates for students, according to the National Academy for State Health Policy.

Nonmandated vaccination of the youngest children against COVID-19 continues to be slow. In the approximately 7 weeks (June 19 to Aug. 9) since the vaccine was approved for use in children younger than 5 years, just 4.4% of that age group has received at least one dose and 0.7% are fully vaccinated. Among those aged 5-11 years, who have been vaccine-eligible since early November of last year, 37.6% have received at least one dose and 30.2% are fully vaccinated, the CDC said.

This story originally appeared on, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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