Coronavirus cases are surging among U.S. children just as schools head back into session.
More than 121,000 kids tested positive for the virus last week, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
That is a 29 percent increase over the figure of nearly 94,000 from the previous week, signaling a worrying trend as the fall semester approaches.
It brings the total of pediatric Covid cases to around 4.4 million since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
However, the infections are rarely fatal with just 0.01 percent, or 379, resulting in death, an increase of eight from the week before.
Leaders from the AAP have been pushing for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make COVID-19 vaccines available for young children.
More than 121,000 new COVID-19 cases among children were recorded last week, as kids’ cases grew by 30% week-over-week
Children account for around 18% of all current cases, and 14% of infections since the pandemic began. Pictured: A child a JFK International Airport in New York, New York, is tested for COVID-19
Dr Lee Savio Beers, president of the AAP, wrote an open letter to the FDA on August 5, urging the agency to fast track the vaccine for children under the age of 12.
‘I write to urge the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to continue working aggressively towards authorizing safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for children under age 12 as soon as possible,’ she wrote.
‘Pediatricians and the families they care for have been anxiously awaiting a vaccine that can be used in children 11 years of age and younger, and especially so now given the rise of the hyper infectious Delta variant.
‘The Delta variant is surging at extremely alarming rates in every region of America. This surge is seriously impacting all populations, including children.’
Currently, only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is available to minors, with it having emergency use authorization for children aged 12 and older.
Children younger than 12 are still unable to receive any vaccine, leaving them vulnerable.
Children account for around 14% of COVID-19 cases recorded since the pandemic began in March 2020. Vermont has recorded the highest share of cases, with 23% percent of total cases in the state being among kids
Kids are also beginning to make up an increased portion of cases in many states.
The AAP reports that children make up around 18 percent of COVID-19 cases in the last week, and 14.4 percent of cases since the pandemic started.
In Vermont, kids make up 23 percent of total cases, the most of any state.
In Alaska, 21 percent of cases are children, also has an abnormally larger share of cases among children.
Florida (nine percent) is the only state where children make up less than 10 percent of total cases.
While many believe children are safe from the virus – as they are less likely to be hospitalized or die from it – some children do still end up suffering severe complications.
Around one percent of child COVID-19 cases require hospitalization, per the AAP, and the youth make up around two percent of people hospitalized because of the virus.
Even when kids don’t suffer from a severe case, there is potential for children to suffer some conditions long-term like ‘long Covid or myocarditis.
Children infected with the virus can also spread the virus to parents, teachers, staff and others.
As schools around the country reopen, many fear these numbers will grow in the coming weeks.
Masking in schools has become a nationwide point of contention.
In Florida and Texas, mask mandates are banned, though some individual schools districts may defy the order.
Tennessee Gov Bill Lee issued an order this week, allowing for children in his state to opt out of mask mandates in schools.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said earlier this month that he would support any efforts by local school districts to institute vaccine mandates on to teachers.
But polls find that parents of children seem to be evenly split on whether or not their kids will be receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
One survey, conducted by CS Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at Michigan Medicine last month, found that 39 percent of parents said their children already gotten a coronavirus shot.
However, 40 percent of parents also said it was ‘unlikely’ that their children would be getting vaccinated.’