Children and COVID: Does Latest Rise in Cases Mean Stabilization?

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New COVID-19 cases rose for the second time in 3 weeks, as the effort to vaccinate the youngest children continued to slow after just 3 full weeks.

Nationally, over 75,000 children under age 5 years received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine during the week of July 7-13. That number is down from the previous week — 118,000 from June 30 to July 6 — which, in turn, was lower than the 206,000 doses administered through the first 10 days after approval, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That all adds up to just under 400,000 vaccinated children, or 2% of the eligible population under age 5, as of July 13.

State-level data, meanwhile, show considerable variation, the American Academy of Pediatrics noted in its weekly analysis of the CDC vaccine data. Vermont has already vaccinated 10.0% of children under age 5 years, and Massachusetts is at 9.5%, while Mississippi (0.3%), Alabama (0.5%), and Louisiana (0.8%) are still below 1%, the AAP said.

New Cases Show Signs of Steadying

The national count was up by 11.1% for the week of July 8-14, rising to 75,000 new cases, compared with 68,000 the previous week, but the recent trend seems to be leaning toward steadiness. The overall number has been between 67,000 and 76,000 over the past 4 weeks, alternating between rising and falling in that time span, according to data gathered by the AAP and the Children’s Hospital Association from state and territorial health departments.

Despite the absence of a significant surge this summer, though, the weekly numbers “are far higher than one year ago, July 15, 2021, when 24,000 child cases were reported,” the two groups said, also noting that several states have stopped updating their online dashboards over the past year, making the current total artificially low in comparison.

Taken with that grain of salt, the cumulative number of child cases since the start of the pandemic is just over 13.9 million, which represents 18.6% of all cases in the United States. That proportion has been declining in recent weeks and was as high as 19.0% as late as mid-May. “While COVID-19 cases are likely increasingly underreported for all age groups, this decline indicates that children are disproportionately undercounted in reported COVID-19 cases,” the AAP and CHA said.

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