“Vaccination is our way out of this pandemic,” the CDC director said on Friday.
While most coronavirus hospitalizations occur in adults, the coronavirus still poses the threat of severe disease to teens, according to a new study issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nearly a third of teens ages 12-17 hospitalized with COVID-19 ended up in the intensive care unit, with 5% ultimately being placed on ventilators.
Most of the teens who were hospitalized with COVID-19, approximately 70%, had at least one underlying medical condition, while 30% of teens with no underlying medical conditions were still hospitalized. None of the adolescents in the study died from COVID-19.
The CDC is encouraging vaccination among those ages 12-17 and is referencing the data to make the case that complications of the virus are much more serious than the risk of getting vaccinated.
“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,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky in a statement. “Much of this suffering can be prevented.”
As more U.S. businesses begin to drop their mask mandates as vaccinations increase, Walensky also urged adolescents to continue wearing masks until they can get vaccinated.
In May, the Pfizer vaccine was authorized for children ages 12 and up, widening the U.S. population that will be protected against the virus and bolstering chances for a safe return to summer activities and full-time school in the fall for children.
Other key findings from the CDC study included a slight increase in hospitalizations among adolescents from March to April with two-thirds of the hospitalized adolescents identifying as either African American or Latino.
Last month, the CDC reported that more than half a million children ages 12-15 received a COVID-19 vaccine and that complications were extremely rare.
“Vaccination is our way out of this pandemic,” Walensky said on Friday. “I continue to see promising signs in CDC data that we are nearing the end of this pandemic in this country; however, we all have to do our part and get vaccinated to cross the finish line.”