COVID-19 cases among children hits highest level since start of the pandemic

As of mid-January, the American Academy of Pediatrics says there were more than 981,000 reported cases in kids nationwide and that’s up nearly 70 percent from the week before.

Doctors say this the number of kids with COVID has now reached the highest case count since the start of the pandemic.

Similar to adults, the American Academy of Pediatrics says the omicron variant is more contagious even in kids. They say children also represent the largest group of unvaccinated people nationwide and that’s partially because children under 5 aren’t eligible for the vaccine.

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New data from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows the number of 5 to 11-years-olds who have gotten their first dose of the vaccine has declined.

This comes after young kids receiving vaccines peaked last November.

American Academy of Pediatrics says these numbers may not be accurate as more families use rapid testing kits at home.

Doctors say children’s hospitals are feeling the strain of these cases.

“We’re seeing in children’s hospitals across the country where they’re, they’re, you know, at capacity with their beds, they are short staffed, because some of their staff are ill and out,” said Dr. Lee Savio Beers, the immediate past president at American Academy of Pediatrics

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Even if kids aren’t going to the hospital, doctors say many of them are still getting very sick and now, that’s overwhelming pediatricians.

“We’re also seeing the strain in our pediatricians’ offices, as well as, as they are seeing just unprecedented numbers of sick children, who may not be sick enough to be hospitalized, but still are quite ill and they’re battling all the same strains that everyone else is,” said Dr. Beers. “We’re hearing from pediatricians across the country, they’re just they’re working incredibly hard under incredibly difficult circumstances, to just take care of all the kids who are coming to them.”

Overall, Dr. Beers said about 7 million young children between the ages of 5 to 11 have gotten at least the first dose of the vaccine.