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

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(Graphic from ADPH)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Hospitalizations of children in Alabama due to COVID-19 are at a record high, and immediate measures should be taken to reduce COVID-19 in the pediatric population. The Alabama Department of Public Health (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 January 13, there were 9,266 total COVID-19 cases reported in Alabama.

The breakdown of cases by age is as follows:
        Percent of cases, ages 0-4 – 3.1 %
        Percent of cases, ages 5-11 – 4.3 %
        Percent of cases, 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. “School-wide 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 initiated vaccine. For ages 12-17, 35.5 % of young people in this age group 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.”

On January 13, a total of 2,091 patients were admitted to Alabama hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 (of which 71 are pediatric patients). Of these patients, there were three pediatric patients in the intensive care unit, including one on a ventilator. There were also 41 pregnant women admitted, with one in the intensive care unit and one on a ventilator.